Once again we arrive at a season of the year when our religious
observances don’t always blend with cultural observances. How do we reconcile the bringing of Easter baskets filled with candy and toys, with the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?
The interesting thing to note is that many of the rituals surrounding the celebrations of Easter were first seen in pagan rites and rituals. Beginning around the 4th century A.D., when the Roman Emperor Constantine became Christian, he began incorporating typical holidays and festivals of the culture into church ritual to consolidate his rule. Springtime brought with it fertility and the symbols we see at Easter of eggs and Easter baskets
symbolize that in many ways as well. So the symbols and holidays of rebirth are also now adapted by us in the Easter celebration of the Resurrection, given new emphases of new life and rebirth.
In our Easter celebrations, children can begin to understand the concept of new life with eggs in the animal kingdom. Older children can see the cycle of life represented in the bursts of spring flowers and the birth of baby animals. As children mature, more of the realities of the crucifixion and resurrection can be understood. The giving of gifts then, just like at Christmas, can be part of our celebration of the greatest gift of salvation and new life given to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Try incorporating some Christian items in Easter baskets instead of standard toys—items such as Bible storybooks, crosses, Christian DVDs and CDs, etc. New clothes for Easter church service can be considered a way to present our best to God in joy for the resurrection. Feasting together with family and friends can be an important way to share God’s story over food and fellowship.
This season can be a wonderful season to celebrate in our church and in our community if we focus on the message at the heart of Easter. God loves us more than we can imagine; so much that he gave his own Son so that we may have the gift of eternal life with God. That’s a gift worth celebrating!