Easter Season

On Easter the Alleluia returned! But for many of us it was a muted alleluia.

Usually Easter Mass is exultant, but not this year. If the bells tolled and the organ played but no one was there, did it still make a sound? Virtual was not actual. iPads and televisions were poor substitutes for the true sights and sounds and smells of Easter Vigil.

I for one missed the ‘carnival atmosphere’ of Easter Sunday morning services, too. My version of heaven is filled with wiggles, giggles, and jelly-bean breath. I missed seeing kids stuffed full of Easter candy, wearing itchy new clothes, packed into an overcrowded church, and expected to sit quietly for over an hour. You can’t get that kind of entertainment on TV.

This year was different. This year we must be smart. We must be safe. We must stay healthy.

So perhaps this was not my favorite Easter. In fact, this was the worst Easter I can ever remember, and my 93-year-old father says it’s the saddest Easter of his life. But our inconvenience and our disappointment are small prices to pay for protecting our loved ones and our neighbors from this pandemic.

Why do you search for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen!

I’m reminded that the first Easter was a pretty quiet affair, and the group was smaller than 10 persons. Still, our salvation is secure. Without fanfare. Without cymbals. Without trumpets. We are saved.

Let’s have a joyous Easter season and remain a grateful people!

(And maybe next year we can have that Easter Parade and you can wear your bonnet with all the frills upon it)



Alleluias and Easter Bunnies

Throw open the shutters. Spring has arrived! Daffodils and tulips and the dogwood are blooming. Birds are singing. New life is in abundance!

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, the day in which Christians celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead. As believers, our salvation is ‘a done deal’ if we choose the gift of His redemption. So churches will be filled to capacity.

Easter 1958aWe need the joy of Easter. It is a welcome balm that can ease the pain in our world. I for one love the carnival atmosphere of Easter Sunday services. Kids dressed in itchy new Easter clothes barely able to sit still because of all the candy that they have consumed before breakfast; beleaguered parents who rose before dawn to hide eggs and prepare baskets full of the aforementioned candy for the little darlings; folks who have not been to church in a while looking conspicuously out-of-place; ‘the regular-attenders’ barely able to conceal their annoyance of having to share their pew. We squeeze in and make room for all. And we love and forgive and ask for forgiveness for the times that we have failed to love. The Alleluias return!

Baked ham, lamb with mint jelly, hot cross buns, deviled eggs and asparagus will adorn our dining tables. Desserts will be rich and plentiful. And don’t forget the candy, surreptitiously snatched from the kiddies Easter baskets while they’re being distracted by yet another treat left behind by the Easter Bunny. Welcome home Springtime!

Some Christians are bothered by all the focus on the Easter Bunny, feeling that it diminishes the sanctity of Easter. After all what does a bunny that hides eggs and gives candy have to do with our Risen Savior? I’m not sure. But what difference does it make? Easter supplanted pre-Christian spring festivals and it doesn’t make it any less sacred to me.

So I’ll welcome the Easter Bunny to hop into my back garden again this year and hide his (her) eggs and leave behind some treats. I’ll smell the sweet aroma of new flowers and tree blossoms. I’ll love and forgive and ask for forgiveness. I’ll eat some ham and sing my Alleluias. And be thankful for it all.



 “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” Luke 24:5


Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s On Its Way

The origins of the Easter Bunny are unclear, but he is mentioned in early German writings. The first edible Easter bunnies appeared in Germany in the 1800s, and were made out of sugar and pastry. As a kid I often wondered what the Easter Bunny had to do with eggs. Polish folklore has the Virgin Mary offering eggs to the soldiers guarding Christ on the cross, as she begged them to be merciful, her tears left stains on the eggs. Eggs and bunnies and candy. There are so many conflicting images that all seem to converge at Easter in some pastel menagerie with chocolate and jelly beans thrown in for good measure.

EasterRecently I’ve read commentaries by some Christian writers complaining about the commercialization of Easter; how Easter is demeaned by the purchase of candy and greeting cards, etc. In 2013 the average consumer spent $145.13 on everything from Easter candy to new clothes. But wasn’t Easter originally a pagan feast to celebrate spring? Painting and dying eggs pre-dates Christianity. It seems that early Christians just conveniently supplanted what was already a festival. Sort of, “Hey, we already have a party – let’s make it about Jesus!”

As a Christian, I’m not really bothered that Easter was formally a pagan feast day. I’m equally undisturbed with the Easter Bunny sharing the day that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we find new life in Christ, why not celebrate the new life around us? And if you’re not a Christian, I still hope that you can enjoy a dyed egg and a chocolate bunny (or whatever means springtime to you). According to the National Confectioners Association’s survey 87% of people create an Easter basket for their kids. This just makes for happy kids. It needn’t diminish the importance of Easter. To the contrary, it should emphasize the joy we share. Why not “wear your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it?”

For Christians this is our Holy Week. This is the most sacred time in our Church calendar. We celebrate and remember the passion and death of Jesus. We begin this week with Palm Sunday and continue through Holy Thursday and Good Friday, as we journey with Jesus to the cross. On Saturday at the Easter Vigil we celebrate His rising anew. Through His death and resurrection we are saved!

This year I’ve decided that instead of being annoyed with the secularization of Easter, I will embrace the world that God has given us. Whether I encounter those who are thankful for a Savior or folks who are just thankful for spring weather, I will try to share their joy. As some of my friends celebrate Passover and others are looking forward to a long weekend, why create conflict? Instead of looking for something to be angry about or focusing on our differences I will try to bring peace and reconciliation to those I meet.

I believe that God created a world big enough for all of us. So I’ll be singing Alleluia on Easter and later if I spy a bunny in my garden or a jellybean should find its way to me, so much the better.




Learning About God From Children

Recently our (almost) 5 year-old granddaughter Anna was discussing Easter with her Mommy. She was talking about Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead. She knows that we live forever in heaven even though our bodies remain on earth after death. She wants to know if Grannie is an old lady in heaven or has a ‘zero baby’ body. Also she’s super excited that Sophie (our aged Maltese) might someday be a fuzzy puppy in heaven and that we’ll all be with her and Grannie someday. But “not for like a hundred years”.the-story-of-easter

Pretty profound stuff.

Anna’s conversation with our daughter reminded me of a time years ago when our younger son Blake was 4 or 5 years old and was attending ‘Pre-school Sunday School’. He was learning about Jesus and Easter and Salvation. And of course as anyone with a preschooler knows, there were lots of questions:

Why did Jesus have to die? He died to forgive our sins.

Is God Jesus’ Daddy? Yes.

Why didn’t his Daddy save him? Because God knew that Jesus needed to die to so we could live in heaven forever.

I’d rather live here than in heaven. You would save me, wouldn’t you? Yes.

Do you have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven? I’m pretty sure that you do.

What about Greg (his older brother’s Jewish best friend)? Well I’m not sure. Ummm, can we talk about what the Easter Bunny will bring you?

A few days later he woke me up in the middle of the night. “Blake why are you awake?” “I’ve been worrying about Greg, but just I figured it out!” “What’s that Buddy?” If God made Greg Jewish then that’s what he should be – God wouldn’t be wrong!” “So Greg can come to heaven, too.” “Oh, okay Pal, can we go back to sleep now?” “Sure!”

Blake fell fast asleep that night. I on the other hand laid awake for hours amazed at his insight. Great scholars and theologians couldn’t have spoken more eloquently.

And then I just stopped pretending to have all the answers. In fact, I realized back then (and still know today) that I had few of the answers.

What I do have is faith. Faith in the unknown; the unseen; the unproven. I’ve been blessed to have glimpsed heaven a few times through the eyes of a child.

As we enter Holy Week may you stop looking for answers and rest assured that God already has them all.




Easter. Spring. Rebirth. Resurrection. New Life. Alleluia!

On Easter Sunday after six weeks of Lent, the Alleluia returned. Triumphantly we proclaimed that He is risen – He is risen indeed! And we sang Alleluia. And we shouted Amen!

Easter Joy!

This Easter Sunday was exceptional because I was shouting and singing Alleluia because He is risen and because we were re-united with our children and grandchildren. All the more reason to shout Amen! And so there is new life and rebirth and hope and joy and love in our lives. We are experiencing the eternal springtime that we find in Christ.

Next week we will head back to England but we will carry with us a rejuvenated spirit in our hearts and we will fill our home there with it until we are re-united again. Don’t misunderstand me. Our life in England is good. And we are thoroughly enjoying it all – the travel, the sightseeing, the new experiences, the new people but I miss my life here, too.

So this week we are savoring simple pleasures and quiet moments. We are sharing time with family and friends and filling up those empty places in our soul. And it is wonderful. And being here this week and tucking my grandkids in at night after bathtime and bedtime stories and prayers is the sweetest reward life has afforded me. It’s God’s gift to me; so precious and true. And waking up to smiles and hugs and kisses. And chants of “Pawpaw, Pawpaw, Pawpaw!” is music to my ears.

We’ll head back to England next week and make more memories and have some experiences of a lifetime (I hope). And we’ll remind ourselves (most days) how fortunate we are to have this opportunity.

And when we get homesick and melancholy we’ll remember that just like the Alleluia, our life here will return, too.



He is Risen, Indeed!

Today the Alleluia returns! The bells will ring. The choirs will sing. Our salvation is secure.

Easter Sunday Mass is always exultant but of course there’s usually a bit of unplanned “entertainment”. That’s what you get when you stuff kids full of Easter candy, put them in itchy new clothes, pack them into an overcrowded church (if only every Sunday could be this well attended) and expect them to sit quietly for over an hour.

I for one LOVE the ‘carnival atmosphere’ of Easter Sunday services – My version of heaven is filled with wiggles, giggles, and jelly-bean breath.


Have a joyous Easter!