Special to 0-A News
From Walter Albritton, Senior Pastor Trinity UMC
For April 1, 1999

Easter is about more than bunnies, butterflies and springing flowers

Once again we celebrate Easter! No day is quite so special to Christians as Easter. Even Christmas must take second place to Easter. The resurrection of Jesus is simply of greater significance than his birth.

Yet the true meaning of Easter is shrouded in confusion and paganism. For multitudes "Easter" is simply an adjective used by merchants to describe eggs, rabbits, baskets, lilies, shoes, dresses, and suits. Many children will hunt "Easter eggs" on Saturday and wear their "Easter shoes" to churches filled with "Easter lilies."

All this despite the fact that Easter has absolutely nothing to do with bunny rabbits or Easter eggs. Still I must admit that it is difficult for me to resist the temptation to purchase one of those delicious milk-chocolate bunny rabbits. I am a sucker for chocolate any season of the year. Easter always occurs in the spring of the year because the death and resurrection of Jesus occurred in the spring, at the annual time of the Jewish Passover. And because Easter occurs in the springtime, it is easy to understand how we began to associate Easter with the budding of flowers, the new life of nature.

It is indeed a delightful time of the year. Winter is past and the earth bursts forth with the glorious beauty of green leaves, spring flowers, and budding trees. New life is everywhere as what appeared dead comes suddenly to life.

But what happened to Jesus on Easter morning was much more than the changing cycles of nature. His resurrection was not like the spring resurrection of flowers. In fact his resurrection was entirely different. Flowers born in spring will die. Next spring new flowers may come from the seed or bulbs that have lain dormant in winter. But as much as we may delight in the beauty that spring brings, this process of nature is not what Christians mean by the resurrection of the dead.

The dead body of Jesus did not "sprout" buds from which a new person would grow. God simply infused life into his dead body and he was suddenly alive again. The tomb was opened so the women and the disciples could look inside; the Risen Christ was already out! He had conquered death! The grave could not hold him!

Beautiful flowers and butterflies are wonderful gifts of God. We can enjoy their exquisite beauty and even consider them as expressions of God's love to us. If we like chocolate we can enjoy a chocolate bunny this weekend. But we can do so without including all these Easter parasites in the same breath with the resurrection of Jesus. And remember that butterflies and bunny rabbits cannot save you from your sins!

Some learned thinkers would have us believe that the grave is the end. Beyond the death of the human body, there is nothing more, only dust. The resurrection of Jesus was God's way of saying, "Don't be afraid. There is more, plenty more. In fact, so much more that you cannot imagine in your wildest dreams what a wonderful eternal life I have available to you - if you will only trust my Son!"

So enjoy the wonders of bulbs, seeds, and cocoons. Celebrate the coming of spring. But remember that the resurrection of Jesus has done something for you that flowers and butterflies can never do. His resurrection has opened the gates of heaven to you and offered you blessed hope that you will see your loved ones again when the Risen Savior welcomes you to your eternal home.

That's the faith which Easter people may enjoy when the true meaning of the resurrection is embraced. And that's why most of our churches are filled on Easter Sunday. We simply have to raise our voices in grateful celebration of this shining truth: "Up from the grave He arose!" Believe me, it's true; He is alive!

Glory Hallelujah!