... He is risen indeed!
While I've spent the last week taking care of my family and visiting with extended family, many thoughts have been running through my head. Even though Easter is finished now, I'd like to share these thoughts with you.
Some people (like the WMSCOG) will say that Christians must not celebrate "Easter" because it is based on a pagan custom. Even the name "Easter" is pagan, they say. I have a couple things to say in response to that.
* First, Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, not worshipping an ancient pagan god (or goddess). Yes, "Resurrection Day" would be a much better name, but in our language today, that is what "Easter" means. As far as I can find through research, only English and German use a form of the word "Easter" for Resurrection Day. Most other languages use a form of the word "Passover" for the same holiday.
* "Easter" was the name of the month that contained the Passover and Resurrection Day holidays. And that month was apparently named after a goddess, Eostra. There is only one source for this information, and that's from the 8th century. You can read about it here. Many of our months of the year and days of the week (at least in English) are based on mythology. Does using those names means we are secretly worshipping pagan gods? If I go to a weekly Bible study on Fridays, am I inadvertently worshipping the goddess of love Freyja (Venus)? If you go to church on Tuesday nights (like the WMSCOG), are you actually worshipping the god of war Teiwaz (Mars)? No, of course not. Likewise, just because the day we remember the Resurrection is sometimes called Easter, that doesn't mean we are worshipping the goddess Eostra (or Ishtar, or Ashtoreth).
* Meanings of words change as a language develops. Words that formerly meant one thing now mean another. Must we rigidly hold on to the old meaning, when the new meaning is clear and prevalent? Would you insist on saying your friend looks "gay" meaning "merry and lively," when our current society would interpret it as "homosexual"? No, you'd have a serious misunderstanding, even though the alternate meanings of "gay" are recent enough to still be in the dictionary. Look up "Easter" in the dictionary--the only meanings listed are about the remembrance of the Resurrection. That is the meaning of the word now, despite where it may have come from.
* About the Easter bunny, you can read more about the Easter bunny here. I consider the Easter bunny similar to Santa Claus--a distraction from the true meaning and purpose of the holiday. Here's a funny video to make that point: Easter Linebacker. (It's less than 3 minutes long. Hope you like it!)
It's interesting to note... The WMSCOG's keeps the Day of Firstfruits (celebrating the Resurrection) on the same day as the mainstream Christian churches celebrate Easter. They don't call it Easter, but they celebrate the Resurrection on the same day, and have since 2003 (records are available on their website, watv.org).
In other words, the WMSCOG does celebrate Easter. They call it by a different name, but it's the same day and the same purpose, the remembrance of the Resurrection of Jesus.
"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead...."