In the midst of Yuletide yuliness, many Christians are fond of reminding folks like capital-A Atheist Sir Richard Dawkins that “Jesus is the reason for the season so cut us some slack since you got a good deal on that schmancy washer/dryer set.” And while that sentiment is undoubtedly true with or without the extended warranty, we should really be more excited about Easter, since resurrection is the reason for our salvation. But that doesn’t rhyme or have a good beat, so it makes for a poor bumper sticker. And if your theology doesn’t make for a pithy bumper sticker, well, what’s it really good for? Eternal life? Dude, that’s so 2006 B.T. (Before Twitter).
Still, even if all 2.2 billion of us Christians in the world (but not of the world except on bunko night) really want to spread the glad tidings of hope, Easter is a bit confusing when it comes to celebratory messaging and assorted accoutrements. Whereas decking the halls, eaves, balcony and dog with lights programmed to dazzle to the beat of Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Burl Ives mash-ups is merely gaudy during Christmas, doing the same thing during Lent would be ratcheting the tacky up a few notches past “Liberace.” Especially if you swap Burl for the Rolling Stones. But mainly because Jesus hates puns.
The issues surrounding properly celebrating Easter can be lumped into two general groups, or “buckets” if you’re into clichéd corporate jargon from 2009. First, whereas Christmas focuses on the birth of a baby – which makes cursory sense to pretty much everyone except Bill Maher – Easter revolves around a grown man rising from the dead of his own volition even though he is, as previously mentioned, physically kaput. Something the whole “because science” crowd tends to poo-poo because sin nature. Second, many traditional Easter traditions seem to have very little to do with our savior’s traditional triumph o’er the grave unless one considers a sassy bonnet to be part of traditional Jewish burial clothing. Because weird.
In regards to the first category, it’s easy to see how the great unwashed-in-the-blood masses might be confused. After all, we as a Christian body don’t exactly adhere to consistent standards of ritualization which, at the end of the day, leads to a lack of proactive synergization regarding the low-hanging fruit of the seed sown amongst the thorns. Some churches commence the season with Ash Wednesday and give up a vice (watching “The Bachelor”) for Lent. Others only mark Palm Sunday and Easter itself. And many congregations hold Easterly sunrise services that may or may not include pancakes which, if you read between the lines in Mark 16:14, the risen Lord rebuked the disciples for not having at the ready. (The “Pancake Theorem” also explains the reason behind Christ’s healing of Peter’s mother-in-law whose name has traditionally been ascribed to be Jemima Butterworth.)
Also, people both in and of the world tend to think we’re nuttier than a Snickers bar at a squirrel convention. (FYI, this year’s National Association of Squirrels, Sloths and Weasels worldwide meeting will take place in the oak tree in Mrs. Edna Braunschweiger’s backyard from August 5-6 assuming the hawk problem gets resolved.) First, we claim there’s a God who has always existed beyond space, time or Ryan Seacrest. Second, said God exists in three persons that are eternally distinct yet of one nature. Whu-huh? Third, one of those three personages came to earth and died for our sins because saying “no worries, it’s cool” just wasn’t quite good enough for something called “propitiation.” Fourth, because Ryan Seacrest. Obviously, we have our work cut out for us. And by “we” I mean “the Holy Spirit,” for only He is mighty enough to soften the heart of the most ignorant Twitter troll.
And so we turn to the second bucketized silo of non-oppressive categorization: The CHB&B Group. Candy. Ham. Bonnets. Bunnies. What in tarnation (or concretenation if the HOA forbids tar in your subdivision) do any of these things have to do with the sanctifying sacrifice of our Creator? Let’s work backwards up the list, shall we? Aye, we shall! The bunnies are vestiges of pagan fertility rituals, so chase them out of your spiritual garden before they devour your rhododendrons of righteousness. The bonnets once served the practical purpose of catching more pancakes during those more orthodox sunrise services (see above if, as usual, you skipped a couple paragraphs). The ham refers to Peter’s vision of unclean foods being lowered from the heavens. Also, it’s tasty. But the candy? The candy is the most theologically sound traditionally non-traditional tradition of all. While Easter candy comes in forms ranging from marshmallow to nougat, I believe it is the cream- (or crème for the fancypants among us) based confections that are most pointy in their ability to point to Christ.
Take for example (but not for real because I hoard them) the Cadbury Crème Egg. (The original, not that Luciferian caramel interloper of recent years.) It begins with the filling or “innards” for the technically minded out there. A mixture of yellow and white fondant, this sticky goo reminds us that while something may look attractive, tempting, even delicately delicious, it can still be nigh impossible to shampoo out of a four-year-old’s hair without some industrial-strength, nothing-but-tears Pert Plus Lye with Extra Lye. Just like how sin, though often tempting (hence the phrase, “Man, that’s tempting.”) always results in a sticky situation involving dogs, tongues and apologies to grandma. The outer chocolate shell is, of course, the grace of God. Holding all things together, making our once-pathetic lives fit for consumption, and encouraging us to come back for more once Easter is over because everything is 50% off.
Even for Richard Dawkins. Because grace.
Jason Fox will probably not be allowed anywhere near Lee Strobel after this.