So say many of our Protestant friends as they celebrate Easter today in a myriad of ways.
Easter is the real foundation of the Christian religion. Christmas, which is celebrated far too long, has become a holiday for everyone. Easter remains primarily a Christian observance.
There are those who will remind us that many major religions include a Spring holiday, when the renewal of the earth signals that after a cold, hard winter, life returns in the form of flowers and blooms. Warm breezes blow and herald a new season of planting to be followed by a season of growth and then harvest. Then, winter again and the eternal passage of the seasons waits for the warm breezes to blow again.
They will be right, of course.
But that does not make our Easter any less meaningful to the faithful who observe it each year as a reminder that their Christ rose from the dead and his resurrection gives us hope of eternal joy when this life is done.
Easter Sunday is the climax of Holy Week, a period that begins with Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a humble donkey. This Jesus, who had been preaching and teaching in the countryside, was welcomed by the masses as a new King of the Jews, and no doubt most saw him as a literal king who would show them how to throw off the yoke of Roman oppression.
Then, as now, the true message of Christ somehow gets lost and twisted. He was not coming into Jerusalem to overthrow the Romans. His purpose was to change the world, and no matter what your theology, no matter what your belief or lack thereof, it cannot be disputed that he and his followers did indeed change the world. More than 2,000 years later his life and death are still celebrated and mourned.
The change Jesus preached was not for new government or for government at all. He preached that we should all change so that love for our neighbor should be second only to love for our God. He preached that we should take care of the poor and homeless, that we should provide food and shelter for those among us who suffer. He taught that peace should govern our lives and not war. He preached that a new way of life on this earth was possible for all of God’s children.
Maundy Thursday is part of Holy Week observed by many churches and includes washing the feet of other worshipers as a show of humility. It is hard, at times, to find humility is today’s versions of Christianity.
Good Friday is often observed as the day to remember the torment of Christ on the Cross. Instead, today it is the day for last-minute shopping to make sure the eggs are ready for coloring, the baskets for the children are filled and the Easter ham is resting comfortably in the refrigerator.
Despite our shortcomings, Easter arrives and in our own way we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Our churches are filled with glorious music and we greet each other with smiles and best wishes.
In many churches, the pews are filled to capacity with the largest crowds of the year. For just a little while, we love our neighbors, as Jesus asked us to do.
We respect those among us who believe differently. But we also join in with those who proclaim “We are an Easter People.”