Driving home one night last week, I passed a church that was wrapped in lights. Not lit up with a spotlight or a Living Nativity display. With actual, multicolored lights. It seems like even the church wanted to get into the feel-good festivities of the season, because, you know, everyone stops to look at Christmas lights!
And then it struck me: why don’t we have Easter lights?
If the church can ‘buy in’ to more secular celebrations of Christmas (most of which I have no problem with, for the record), why isn’t it equally as loud and crazy during Lent, or at least the few weeks leading up to Easter, in church?
Is it because Santa is an easier sell than the Easter Bunny?
Is it because at Christmas, we often get gifts, while at Easter, we primarily only get candy?
Does the progression round the rabbit hole lead us to two questions that probably have more truth than we’d like to admit: Is it because we can make Christmas about us while Easter is about Jesus, or is it because the baby Jesus (even to those who approach the holiday cynically) is more palatable than the bloody and bruised Jesus gasping for air on the cross?
At Christmas, we exchange presents – even co-opting it as a second birthday in some parts.
Baby Jesus is marketable but dying/dead/resurrected Jesus takes a leap of … faith. But separating them out makes for a lukewarm belief system, a faith stripped of devotion, sacrifice, or costly grace. Christmas shines bright, reflective lights that attract us, but without Easter behind it, Christmas’ power fades. Without Easter, do we celebrate the birth of Jesus? Do we even know who he is or reflect on the holiday at all? Is there a holiday called Christmas if there isn’t an Easter?
Probably not. But how ironic that we throw out the budget to celebrate the house party of Christmas and leave the leftovers for Easter.
Maybe you and I can change that. Who is up for hanging some Easter lights?