Easter, glorious spring!
March 20 or 21 each year marks the vernal equinox. The 24-hour day is split into 12 hours as the sun crosses the equator. The Lord God Who created our earth did it all by a plan. We had the autumnal equinox and watched as plants and flowers slowly went to sleep. Now our half of the world is finding its way out of the darkness into light, trees budding and green tips pushing their way out of the ground. Amazing nature! It has been so since the beginning of time. The Lord God planned it all.
For the Jewish faith, it is Passover. For the Persians it is Nowruz (new day). For Christians, it is Easter. That word and that celebration has multiple meanings. The word Easter comes from the name of a pagan goddess, Eostre, probably incorporated into the Christian faith in the early days when Rome ruled. In time, Easter became what we know today, eggs, bunnies and a lot of commercialism. For Christians, it became Lent, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, all with some specific significance. Lent was celebrated as a time of denial of the body, a time to give more attention to God. Good Friday was a time of worship, remembering what happened when Jesus died on the cross.
Why it is called “Good” Friday can be understood only when we remember out of the evil of a horrible crucifixion came new life when Christ rose from the dead, conquering death for all who believe Him. Easter Sunday was and continues to be a day when Christians all over the world call out, “He is risen!” It signifies what we believe about the Son of God, promised from eternity. He came to bring us respite from the wages of sin, which is death, into which we all fell when Adam and Eve disobeyed in the Garden of Eden.
God has told us in His Word — the Bible — the whole story, how and why we are a part of that. It is sacred history, HIS story, a love letter to us, a sacred insight into why there are wars and rumors of war, greed, anger and hatred. When we remember the story and believe it, we find the peace of God, which passes all understanding.
There is one problem. If we celebrate Easter as only one day of the year, it soon wears off and we sink again into our old ways — fear, sadness, depression — happiness and joy gone, flown away like the birds after they empty the bird feeder. We are captured by the mundane affairs of all that is happening around us, our hope diminished that things could change. It is ever that way in this world.
If we want to know reality, we must get beyond the Easter we enjoyed in the past, the baskets, the Easter egg hunts, the chocolate bunnies we enjoyed, the one-day celebration. We must turn away from what idolatrous Israel turned to when they accepted and began to worship a false goddess. If we give our lives into the Hands of the risen Christ, we will find new life. That is the essence of the Gospel and a lesson from the vernal equinox. It takes us into light where we find the Light of Christ.
Even in the seasons of the year, we find God’s love comes to us as a reminder. We can come out of darkness and death into new life in Christ when we put our faith in Him.
Myrtle V. Thompson, 93, is a retired educator, Bible teacher, writer and missionary. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.