Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and I find myself thinking of how Easter has changed over the years. I remember when Easter meant a new outfit – new hat, matching gloves, new dress, new shoes. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I spent many Easters shivering in the cold wind and snow, not wanting to cover up my new finery with something as mundane as my winter parka.
Over the years, things changed, and somewhere along the line, hats went out of style, as did the matching gloves, and the new ensemble was no longer mandatory. For some, Easter was a time to dig out the spring outfits that had lingered in the back of the closet over the long winter, and, if it snowed, no one thought too much about wearing that winter coat well into April.
As I grew older, Easter meant getting up early on Sunday morning and attending the Sunrise Service – usually a damp, chilly affair down by the lake. And another service later in the day which was packed with a lot of folks I hadn’t seen in the pews before.
However, the music didn’t change over the years, and I love the hymns of joy and jubilation we always sing: “Christ the Lord is risen today!” and “Up from the Grave He Arose!” On a good Easter Sunday, the Hallelujah Chorus is thrown in, too.
Today? Well today Easter doesn’t seem to make much impact anymore. Good Friday is a shopping day like all others; so is Easter Monday. Yesterday, Good Friday, my neighbour complained that Rona was packed and he had to stand in line for ten minutes. Seems folks think Good Friday means a Good Day to get started on spring clean-up.
The churches are still fuller than a regular Sunday, but that’s not saying a lot these days. I know that the majority of people are going about their usual Sunday business with little thought of what the day means. In most households with children, Easter is chocolate and candy and baskets filled to the brim. Nothing more.
We spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that we’ve lost the “real meaning” of Christmas amid the commercial frenzy of the season, but I think it’s equally sad that we’ve lost the real meaning of Easter, too.
It can be summed up in six words. “Christ died. Christ arose. Christ lives.”
The secret is in the tenses.
Christ died. Past tense. Over, done with.
Christ arose. Also past tense. A one-time event over 2,000 years ago.
Christ lives. Present tense. Here. Now. With me. With you.
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