This time of year the easter eggs, bunnies, chocolate and fake green grass fly around in a consumeristic frenzy making all the little kids happy. I remember how much I loved getting an Easter basket this time of year. This year I have wrestled quite a bit on the season and how easy it can be lost to each of us. Let's make it clear - there is no commandment in Scripture to have a celebration/feast called Easter. The observance does however have a long history and such celebrations hinge upon what it is we are celebrating. At Easter the church celebrates something extremely important, in fact the central kernel of the gospel. Easter is the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to bring sinful human beings back into relationship with God.
Every year people come out with opinions, articles and documentaries about the life and death of Jesus. The usual experts are paraded around on both sides to say that Jesus was or was not this or that. Yet the central tenet and claim of Christian faith is remembered annually at this time - God became a human being and died himself for rebellious human beings. The question for me - is this lost to the church at Easter in our day?
This year I have struggled a bit in soul with a sort of goofy reality. This year Easter came early in the church calendar which also meant it coincides with another religious activity found on the American cultural landscape - March Madness. Now you may think - Reid, basketball does not compare to Jesus. Not so fast friend. My guess is that Good Friday and Easter will not cause a blink away from the massage celebration of the round ball in America. In fact I have struggled with what to do with the NCAA Tournament because I am a huge fan. I am a sports guy, love the tourney, but feel awkward about Easter and talk of Sweet 16s in the same breath. Maybe because I sense that I am actually a worshipper of both God and basketball games. Thank God for Easter – as it demonstrates God’s grace to me as an idolater.
My fear is that in our culture of show without substance we might miss, and our neighbors will certainly miss the incredible, radical implications and claims of the gospel. Many will do their hat tip duty of church attendance for family this year at Easter - yet what will they hear in the churches? My hope is that sin, death, the cross and the resurrection might be on full display. My hope is that people will be corned by good news and choose to turn to God for his forgiveness...or they will have to wrestle with the gospel in its biblical form - not the "here are three things to make you happy this Easter" drool that some churches will peddle.
May Christ dwell in each of your hearts richly through faith this Good Friday. May his love and wrath, mercy and justice, grace and severity be real to each of you in these days. And please don't shame yourself for watching basketball games with friends. I will be cheering for the UNC Tarheels in the tourney and have a few brackets I will check. Yet do examine your hearts if you are feeling that Good Friday and Easter celebrations are "in the way of your getting back to the games" - such would be a huge adventure in missing the point. My hope and prayer for this weekend is that my life, love and worship will be found in Christ alone...even amongst Easter eggs and Easter hoops.