Easter Day Brunch & Egg Hunt

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A final word about ‘Christian’ and ‘Pagan’ versions of Easter
by Garry Deverell @ Uncommon Prayers, Easter 2011

“You may have noticed that there is no mention in any of these specifically Christian forms of Easter worship of either eggs or bunnies. Some may find that surprising. In fact, the celebration of Easter using eggs and bunnies owes far more to pre-Christian Europe than to Christianity. The pagan celebration of Easter was essentially about the turning of the seasons from the dark of winter to the brightness of spring and the new harvest this would make possible. For pagans Easter was, and is, essentially a celebration of the returning fertility of the earth every year at springtime. In this context, symbols of fertility such as eggs and rabbits make perfect sense.

The Christian Easter celebrates something rather different, however. For Christians, the risen Christ is not simply another version of the ‘Corn King’ (C.S. Lewis’ phrase) – a god or goddess who returns to life when the earth has been warmed by the spring sun in order to bless the fertility of the earth and guarantee a successful harvest. Christ is not, in this sense, an ‘eternal return’ (Nietzsche) of that which we have come to expect on an annual basis: the eternal fecundity of the earth, and a symbol of our endless capacity to become what we have always expected we can become as human beings. No. Christ is something more than this. Christ is the arrival, within human history, of something which neither nature nor history could produce on its own, from its own cycles or resources, as it were. Christ is the arrival of something genuinely new: a new idea, a new creation, a new way to live.

For in Christ, so Christians believe, God has acted to liberate human beings from the despair of their eternally cyclic imaginations. To the cry of the wise: ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, God poses not a confirming answer but an eternal question: ‘What kind of world would be made if you abandon yourselves, your resources, your imaginations and allow yourselves to be re-made – from the outside in – in the image of this human being from another time and place, this Christ?’ For what does the risen Christ mean, for Christians, if not the arrival within the possible of that which is not, strictly, possible: life, where there was only death; light, where there was only darkness; peace, where there was only conflict; hope, where there was only despair; purpose and vocation, where there was only accident? For Christians, then, the resurrection of Christ is nothing less than the contradiction of every expectation built on the principle of the ‘eternal return’. It is the shattering of every pattern or model built on what has happened before. It is the beginning of a future which is genuinely new, genuinely revolutionary. SO new, SO revolutionary that we can barely glimpse its import.

For me, that is good news. Because I am tired of iterations that never solve anything, answers that simply confirm what we already think we know, solutions that never really worked in the first place. It is the good news that it is God who can save us. We are no longer condemned to save ourselves.

A holy Passiontide and joyful Paschal season to you all!”


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