Easter and springtime–they go together. When I was a kid I probably thought that baby chicks, colorful eggs and spring flowers were mentioned in the Biblical story of the resurrection—at least it’s somewhere in the gospel according to North Americans.
Then we moved to Costa Rica, and it shook up my Easter theology. I was surprised that there were no chocolate bunnies, Easter eggs or spring flowers. They didn’t even have a spring–it was either dry season or rainy season.
Instead of an Easter egg hunt, my husband and I got caught in the crowded streets of a crucifixion procession. There was a man who reenacted Jesus’ walk to Golgotha with the cross on his back—and believe it or not, he didn’t have blue eyes and straight blonde hair. The following day there was another crowd in the central plaza for the burning of Judas. And Sunday, instead of Easter baskets, most people went to mass to celebrate the resurrection—others went to the beach.
Seeing a bloodied image of Jesus drag a cross down the street on Friday was not as pleasant as showing up at Grandma’s on Friday welcomed by daffodils arranged on the table. And the thought of Judas’ role in the crucifixion story was not as warm and fuzzy as thinking about a new stuffed bunny rabbit.
What happened to my Easter?
Maybe I let too many of our North American traditions sanitize the story of the crucifixion and normalize the miracle of resurrection (Miracles) .
I grew up with more excitement about the chocolate bunny in my basket on Easter Sunday than the miracle of God’s Son resurrecting from the dead. When I was kid, my church tradition seemed to minimize the religious part of holidays because we said that we celebrated Jesus all year. I took advantage of that to maximize the chocolate part.
Costa Rica stripped me of the Easter bunny traditions and forced me to look at the crucifixion and resurrection.
Now that we live in the states, I try to read the story of the crucifixion and resurrection according to the gospels while I’m bombarded with Easter according to the media.
I don’t have a problem with chocolate bunnies or dying eggs—I won’t tell you how many malted eggs I’ve already eaten this week. I loved Easter egg hunts with the kids. And I enjoy the symbolism of new growth in springtime. I just don’t want my North American culture to limit my Easter celebrations to that.
The real Easter story is in the gospels. Read it, and I’ll bet you’ll find yourself in the story too. Here are some ways that the story has spoken to me during my readings–
- I see myself in the indignance of the Pharisees when the woman poured the expensive perfume on Jesus.
- I relate to the disciples who fell asleep in the garden instead of keeping watch and praying.
- I would have joined the disciples who said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
- And I feel the remorse of Peter when the rooster crowed.
- I’ve wondered what it was like for the women who watched Jesus on the cross from a distance and their marvel at the tomb when the angel said, “Do not be afraid. He has risen.”
- I love the courage of Joseph, a member of the Council who was “waiting for the kingdom of God” when he asked for Jesus’ body to bury him in his own tomb.
- I relate to the disciples doubting the words of the women who told of the resurrection because it would have “seemed like nonsense” to me as well.
- And I would have ran with Peter to the tomb because I would also want to see for myself.
Most of all, I love that Jesus really did rise after three days. He stood among the disciples and said, “Peace be with you,” and then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” What an experience to eat broiled fish with Jesus, the Son of God, after they spent three days thinking their Messiah was dead. And what good news that we can all participate in the same resurrection with Jesus.
The resurrection story is great news to celebrate wherever we live–whether it’s springtime in the US, autumn in Chile, or dry season from Costa Rica to Thailand.
I hope you take time for a refreshing look at the gospels before you go buy those chocolate bunnies, malted eggs and jelly beans.
And remember, “He is risen.”