Preparing Our Hearts for the Empty Tomb
As we draw close to the end of the Lent season and prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I thought it would be a good Idea to use my blog as a platform to explain why Easter is not rooted in any pagan tradition or celebration. Why is this important? Well for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost I want to disarm and attempt the enemy might take, to make us overly anxious or divided about the words or dates we use to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection.
Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 2nd Timothy 2:14
Secondly, I want our focus to solely be on our resurrected King Jesus and what He wants to do in us and through us, as we celebrate Easter Sunday in our Church family and Livingston community.
So with that said, I will be calling April 9th Easter Sunday. You may feel convicted to call it Resurrection Sunday, and you are more than welcome to do that. I am confident that we are both correct. Though I am also confident that there are many more potential visitors to our Church looking for an “Easter Sunday'' service then there are people looking for a “Resurrection Sunday Service.” To me that is important to note, and takes precedence over trying to concoct a nuance of explanations of why we call Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday to people who are still trying to find salvation. Especially when there is no real historic evidence that any of our Easter traditions have roots in paganism. After much research, prayer and consideration, I can say with certainty, to believe Easter is rooted in paganism is FAKE NEWS! I believe that villainizing the term “Easter”, also creates a stumbling block of exclusivity for new believing and unbelieving visitors to experience the power of Holy Spirit moving in our Church services that we have become so accustomed to. My desire is that we are being gracious and accommodating to those who are seeking God in all of our speech and actions. We are in fact a seeker friendly Church. As in we are very welcoming and friendly to those who are in search of God. Oftentimes we confuse the term “seeker friendly" with the term “world conforming”(which we absolutely are not), but that is a different subject altogether…
So whether you hear me say Easter or Resurrection Sunday please understand that I am meaning the same thing, and I am in now way trying to replace the celebration of the Christ rising from the dead with anything Paganistic. For the sake of clarification here is a brief list of the historic origin of the words and traditions we celebrate on Eater.
The word Easter : “Pascha” (Hebrew: פסח—Pesach) which means “Passover”—and this is how all modern translations show it.
Some people have inferred that Easter is the English derivation of the Greek Astarte, but there is no linguistic or historical basis for this. In addition, the English word Easter is said to have derived from an Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess named Eostre. This theory was based on an incorrect conclusion by St. Bede the Venerable about the etymological origins of the English month that coincides with spring and the celebration of Easter, Eosturmonath. But, as Anthony McRoy, a fellow of the British Society for Middle East Studies, notes, there is no historical basis for this derivation. He notes that St. Bede himself said his conclusion was based on his interpretation rather than a generally held position or proven fact.
Also, there is no doubt that the focus of Easter for St. Bede and English Christians in general, was and is Jesus, the Passover Lamb who died on our behalf and rose from the dead.
Indeed, in most European countries, the name for Easter derives from the Greek word Pascha, which itself is derived from the Hebrew Pesach—i.e., the word Passover. Thus, the term paschal sacrifice refers to Jesus’ one sacrifice
Easter Bunny; although we don't invite him to our First Church Easter celebration you should at least know his origin and not be fearful, or judgmental of his basket or eggs…. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. It is un-conclusive where the Easter Bunnies exact inception began, but it is unlikely that they represented pagan gods, because these immigrants would not know of the ancient pagan gods who have not been rediscovered through archeology until recently.
Easter Eggs; The most historically logical roots for Easter eggs is their use during Medieval Easter traditions. Eggs were prohibited during Lent, and so in preparation for their return to eating eggs, people decorated eggs and used them as part of their Easter celebrations. This is the most reasonable source for the traditions we continue today."
In today's celebrations, eggs are used to commemorate new life, specifically, the new life of Jesus. I.E. We do resurrection eggs in the children's ministry.
I really hope this was a help and not a source of division or contention. Again if you genuinely feel conviction to only use the phrase “Resurrection Sunday” you are welcome and encouraged to do so. But please remember that when others say “Easter” it is acceptable and good as well. My goal as your pastor is that we will gather in unity with expectation for Jesus’s presence to encounter us through Word, Worship and Fellowship. That we would also continue to be a refuge and a source of connection for those who are seeking God. That we would not allow the nuance of words or phrases distract us from those points.
I am so thankful for each of you and the incredibly unique, powerful body of believers. I look forward to opening our doors to our community as we passionately worship Jesus this coming Easter Sunday.
For reference I have cited my resources below: