I cannot believe that Easter is here all ready. I am sure it's only five minutes since Christmas, and when time speeds by at such a fast pace, you know you're getting older. It's like noticing that policeman are getting younger!
Easter is a celebration. It is a holiday and a time to eat chocolate eggs. In today's society it is easy to forget the true meaning of Easter. It is a Christian festival remembering how Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday and rose again, three days later, on Easter Sunday. In the days of my youth Good Friday was a day when shops closed and there was an air of solemnity as Christians remembered how Christ died and suffered for our sins, "he died to make us good". There would be hot-cross buns for tea as a reminder of that cross. The church was the focus of everyone's attention as we shared those three hours from 9-12 remembering His suffering. Some people organised Passion plays where actors acted out the entire 'passion' or suffering of our Lord. I remember taking part in one in Crewe in the early 70's.
On Sunday the church celebrates the Resurrection of Christ. That first Sunday morning, when the women went to the tomb where Jesus had been hastily lain only to find the stone removed and the body missing, is celebrated. Christianity stemmed from Judaism; Jesus, himself was Jewish and the Jewish holy day or Sabbath is on a Saturday. The beginning of the Sabbath is sunset on a Friday evening and is marked by a synagogue service and meal. It is a day of complete rest and worship; no work is done. Consequently, there was a tremendous rush to pronounce Jesus dead and remove Him from the cross.
The women were anxious to anoint the body, in accordance with Jewish tradition, at the earliest opportunity. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and other women arrived at the tomb, expecting to find it secured by a stone. Imagine their surprise, the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Inside, a young man, wearing a white robe, spoke to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him as he told you." Mark ,Chapter16, vs 6 & 7.
Later, we read of several appearances by Christ to the disciples and others. The belief in the risen Christ was enough for some very frightened Jews, scared of prosecution, to become the first followers, or Christians. The Eucharist/Mass became the main service, where bread and wine were received by the congregation, in memory of the bread and wine at the last supper on the Thursday evening, and having the extra symbolic significance of the body and blood of Christ. Services were held in secret, and the early Christians identified themselves to each other, not by the cross, but a fish, after Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, the disciples who were fishermen.
Christians remember that first Sunday morning and rejoice. It is proof, that there is an eternal, afterlife or new life. Chickens, eggs, rabbits are all symbolic of new life and new hope. However, you spend this Eastertide, have a very HAPPY EASTER!
Love to you all,