<font face=courier>-----Original Message-----
From: [[url=mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/url]] On Behalf of John Waddey
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2007 2:54 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 04/07/07</font>
DO YOU CELEBRATE EASTER?
<font color=black face=arial>Dear Friends in Christ:
Today's lesson answers a question commonly asked of New Testament Christians. It provides a good way to respond to those who sincerely ask us about our faith and practice. It also reminds our own brethren why we do not observe a special Easter celebration. Please feel free to forward this to others in your e-mail address book or make copies to share with those where you worship.
- <font size=5>DO YOU CELEBRATE EASTER?</font>
<font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman>Our neighbors sometimes ask, Does the Church of Christ celebrate Easter? To understand their question and to properly answer it a bit of information is needed.
For 21st century Americans, Easter means many things. For example, for some it is the annual time for displaying spring clothing fashions. For children, it is a time for gifts, candy treats, pastel colored bunny rabbits and an Easter egg hunt. For teens and young adults, it is a time for spring break from school. For Catholic and Protestant churches, it is a time for pageants, choral performances and communion. Even those church bodies consumed by liberal skepticism celebrate Easter. Although their preachers do not believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus, they dutifully perform the rituals of the season.
Historically, Easter was a time for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Although it is the oldest of the holy days church leaders have designated, it was not observed during the time the apostles were here to guide the church. J.D. Douglas notes,"...the Scriptures make no provision for the observance of Easter as the day of the resurrection..." (Dictionary of the History of the Christian Church, p. 322). It was well into the second century when the practice became common. Over the centuries it grew to become one of the two most celebrated days in the year for Catholic and Protestant bodies.
"The derivation of the name 'Easter' is uncertain. According to Bede (673-735 A.D.) it is connected with an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, "Eostre." At any rate it seems clear that as in the case of Christmas, the Christian feast of Easter has superseded an old pagan festival" (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church p. 432-433).
But do Churches of Christ celebrate Easter? Most of our members have a family day on Easter Sunday. They gather for a nice meal and fellowship. Most of our small children will have their Easter eggs and candy, stuffed rabbits and an egg hunt. Many of our people will adorn their spring clothing on that day and our older youngsters will enjoy the holiday from school.
On the Sunday designated as Easter every church of Christ in the world will assemble for worship. On that day they will participate in holy communion and will hear a lesson from God's Word. Many of the lessons will discuss the resurrection of Christ and what it means for us. But then we do that every first day of every week of the year. We do so because that is how the early church, under the supervision of the apostles, celebrated the resurrection of Christ. He was raised on the first day (John 20:1) and on that day his disciples have gathered to celebrate the event (Acts 20:7). We have no pageants, plays or special programs. This does not indicate in the least a lack of faith in, gratitude for or lack of interest in the resurrection of our Lord.
Rather, it is evidence of our commitment to worship and serve God in the same way as did the church in the beginning. We do not wish to incorporate anything into our faith or worship that has originated with uninspired men, no matter how old or how popular it may be. We hope you share this commitment.</font>
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now