by Pastor William Ringer
People spend nearly three months getting ready to celebrate Christmas, or at least advertisers and stores do. Work places have parties, families travel across the country, stores have massive sales (or claim to), and there are plenty of decorations adorning homes and towns. Christmas music plays on the radio and television channels have a slew of movies to play just for the season. Some channels even devote their entire morning programming to showing a log burning in a fire-place! We have fireworks on the 4th of July, BBQ/picnics, parades, and plenty of outdoors activities prepared. Halloween has everyone dressing up in costumes, going to parties, trick-or-treating, and more candy than any dentist can possibly bear to think about. Even Valentine’s Day can get folks worked up in a tizzy, lest they forget to shower their most dearly beloved with candy and flowers.
There is a pecking order for holidays in the modern culture. Christmas seems to receive the most attention, because, who doesn’t like presents? Easter has candy and baskets, but not as much as Halloween, nor are the baskets as impressive as a tree with boxes beneath it. The 4th of July has fireworks and cook-outs. Other holidays have parades. Easter parades are relatively rare, and since the Easter Vigil isn’t observed in many places, the Easter Fire is rarely seen by most Christians – nor is it as flashy as the night sky being lit up by grand explosions of color to ordinary eyes. It seems that Easter, aside from perhaps a long weekend, some candy, and maybe a family get together, is the type of occasion that could easily be forgotten on the calendar.
Yet, in the Church, Easter is the greatest of the holidays. It is the Holy Day which sanctifies all days. Easter is the reason why we worship on Sunday, even! Without the Resurrection of Christ, no other celebration in the Church would exist – including that beloved Christmas day. While the birth of our savior is incredibly significant, it is His death upon the cross for us that ultimately makes His birth such a wonder and celebration. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, we have all the joyous celebrations as people of faith. We have Christmas, Epiphany, the Lenten Season, Holy Week – Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, The Great Vigil of Easter, Easter Morning, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity, the season and life of the Church, all leading us to the end in Advent which is also the beginning. We have all of that because of Easter. We have all of that because of Jesus giving His life for you and rising again from the dead. In Jesus we have a new life of faith, the faith which saves us by His holy and precious blood. We have the life of faith which is filled with celebrations to remind us of the work of God to save us from sin and give us everlasting life.