A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - I Love Easter!

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

I love Easter……
I don’t love Easter…..

Before I am called up on charges of blasphemy  for that last comment,
I would say the same thing about Christmas.

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Let’s start with the date.
It’s like playing whack-a-mole at the carnival.

Always changing,
no one ever knows where it is till it pops up.

Christmas is always December 25
How else would shoppers know how many shopping days remain?
The 4th of July is of course,  July 4th,
and Thanksgiving is always the  4th Thursday of November,
unless you are Canadian.

Easter is determined by the cycles of the moon.
Say what?
Can we get away from the lunar calendar thing?

In case you wanted to put this in your smart phone,
it is the first Sunday after the first full moon 
following the March equinox.
This was decided at the 1st council of Nicea in 325AD.
This means it can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

And to make it more confusing,
the Eastern Orthodox branch of the church
celebrates on a different day because they follow the Julian calendar
rather than the Gregorian calendar,

Got that?  Good. Now you can plan your life.

How about the pope, a few cardinals,
and some nuns get together,
check their calendars and say,
how about we do this the third Sunday of April every year?”

Which leads me to the second thing…..
the weather.
Because of the lunar thing,
Easter can be somewhat, let’s say chilly……

Last week around these parts,
they did an Easter Egg hunt
in the snow
Now I know why they paint the eggs.

One Easter morning in March it snowed 2 inches during worship.
As a church musician,
I was very tempted to lead
“Christ the Lord is risen today,

Christ was indeed risen,
but my daffodils were nowhere to be found.

Been to an outside Easter sunrise service lately in Pennsylvania?
I would suggest you wear the same outfit you wear on your ski trip.

Then there is the issue of the mascots.
The 4th of July has Uncle Sam.
Christmas has jolly old Saint Nicholas.
St Patrick’s Day has a cool little leprechaun.

Easter has a rabbit.

Now I am not morally opposed to rabbits.
But I am a little freaked out.
Maybe it’s because as a child
I ended up on an Easter Bunny railroad excursion.
I remember being trapped in an overheated railroad car
next to the “Easter Bunny.”

To some children, this might have been a magical adventure
but this “bunny” had a goatee,
was perspiring profusely through his fur,
and by smell, was obviously a chain smoker.

And then he wanted to give me some candy…..
My momma warned me about such situations.

Let’s talk decorations.
Hands down, Easter is the worst decorated holiday
Nothing sends my spirit soaring
like pastel plastic eggs hanging in a dormant maple tree.

Inflatable bunnies in your yard?
Well, that just sends me back to my railroad trauma.

I think I saw the tackiest Easter decoration ever created
last year when I saw a plastic tomb at the end of a driveway
which could also be used to store garbage cans.

And how about the food at Easter?
Ham, scalloped potatoes, coconut cake,
jelly beans, anything with chocolate and peanut butter…..

Okay, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that menu.
Score one for Easter.

Easter, like all religious holidays
has its pluses and minuses.

Because most of them are so intertwined
with religious and secular traditions,
it is easy to have many differing feelings about them.

But of all the holidays,
Easter claims THE defining moment in human history.

Either the tomb was empty or it was not.

If it was not empty, that’s a major con for you and for me.
for there is simply then no hope after the grave.

But if it was empty,
then you and I have every reason to awake each morning
and put on our dancing shoes,
because the holiday is in full gear,
and shows no signs of ending.

And that’s the part of Easter that I love.

Thanks be to God who has won the victory through Christ Jesus!

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn,
they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which had been prepared.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, 
two men  suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel;
and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground,
the men said to them, ‘why do you seek the living One among the dead?
He is not here, but He has risen.’ ”

                                                                                                                               Luke 24: 1-6a

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