Over the years, I think I've managed to say something about every major holiday on the calendar except for one: Easter.
It's hard to write about Easter. There is nothing amusing about it, and it's not really even a family celebration. Rather, it's an observance that tends to be very personal.
The fact is, at Easter and during the weeks before and after, we acknowledge -- or perhaps try to avoid acknowledging -- some of the most significant truths about our individual and collective humanity.
The truths of Easter touch us as those of no other holiday can. For example: Love is the overriding need in all human relationships; there is power in courageously stating your beliefs, even when sacrifice is involved; popular acclaim is fickle and can easily turn into condemnation; the potential for betrayal and evil lies within each of us; with apologies to Billy Joel, it does seem that only the good die young; new beginnings are exciting; God loves and forgives unconditionally; and God acts on our behalf. There are many more.
Of all the Christian holidays, Easter has most clearly kept its spiritual identity intact. Whether we believe that or not, Easter rests firmly on our accepting an event that does not fit into our 21st Century understanding of reality. And it speaks all the more clearly (and disturbingly) because of it.
The truths claimed at Easter challenge us as no other holiday themes can, and most of us feel a bit uncomfortable with such ideas -- perhaps because they hit too close to home and touch us deeply.
Of course, in the time-honored American tradition, we've tried to make Easter a bit more palatable by commercializing it with rabbits who deliver colored eggs, parades, new clothes, cards and family feasts. But when it comes right down to it, it really hasn't worked.
Like it or not, I guess we are stuck with Easter as a religious holiday. We can accept its claims or reject them; we can even try to ignore them. But we must deal with them in some way.
I hope you will risk using this holiday to consider the message of Easter and what it does, or does not, mean to you. Whether you accept or reject the themes of Easter, they deserve your serious attention.