Easter comes at the end of a long winter season. We’re ready for a break, a rest and a holiday. It’s time to relax and spend time with loved ones. To be festive and celebrate.
But there’s a problem. Many in the UK don’t know what the celebration is all about. Are we celebrating spring? Or bunnies and chocolate? Or the holiday itself? Or something religious? For many, Easter in 2014 is a festival in need of a meaning.
For the last 2,000 years Easter has been the time when Christ-followers celebrate new life that comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus. Charged with immense significance, it was until recently bigger than Christmas. But the meaning has slowly been lost in our culture. It’s waned and for many it’s disappeared.
I felt this yesterday as I did a few minutes shopping in York after Good Friday services. The sun was shining and many people were somewhat aimlessly wandering, looking, watching, buying, sitting, drinking, eating and chatting. Most seemed relaxed and unhurried. I don’t know how many knew it was Good Friday or what it stands for, but it felt like people were happy that it was holiday-time and they could be out and about. It made me think again that for many, Easter is a festival with little meaning. It’s more a time for a break, a rest and happy holiday.
I don’t think our culture wants to celebrate Easter as we did before. I suspect it’s perceived as too somber. Too stiff. Too churchy. If we’re to help people in the North rediscover the meaning of Easter it will have to be celebrated differently – in a way that doesn’t diminish or make boring the holiday but rather enhances it.
Is that possible? Can we help people have an even happier Easter? I believe we can. At the very least I think it starts with individual disciples and their families and churches finding good and fresh ways to celebrate – and then encouraging others to join in. We can do that. Starting locally, and over time effecting our streets, communities and region.
Easter is a festival in need of a meaning. Followers of Jesus know the meaning. So what are we waiting for?