Home > Faith, God Project > Trouble with Easter

Trouble with Easter

Once again, it’s me, Deanna. I’m here this week to bring you a filler post and all the joys (and hatred) of Easter.

I have trouble with Easter, and my trouble with it is mostly because I have difficulty finding meaning in it without regurgitating the entire manual of Christian idioms and vernacular I learned as a child. All of the natural, knee-jerk phrases I would use to talk about Resurrection Sunday all consist of things that I now hear myself say and think What does that even mean? I was hard-wired to recite and understand events like these like the story of Hanzel and Gretel. And I mean that not so much in the sense that reduces Easter to just a story, but more in the sense that if any seven-year-old at a modern evangelical church were asked to retell either story, both are automatic, integrated stories that can be recited at any moment’s notice.

For family reading, stop panicking that I’ve backslidden (another nicely packaged word with a bow on top that is not heard in any other normal situation) and listen to what I’m saying.

I need Easter to be fresh. I don’t want to reduce or downgrade the potency of its meaning; I don’t want that to go away. I just want to find meaning and an understanding that doesn’t involve a communal feeding on verbal vomit that’s brought back up the Church’s throat every year in April. I no longer can glean meaning out of what I’ve been fed all my life. I can’t sit through another church service and hear the pastor with his happy smile, arms lifted hear him say “He is risen!” and we, as the lovely congregation repeat back “He is risen, indeed!” Don’t misunderstand me, I mean nothing against churches that do that. I just need to understand the exact implications it has on my life. Because as far as I see, it doesn’t mean anything other than a new dress, an ungodly (pun intended, shut up) early church service, brunches, cantatas and lots of irritating Easter basket grass.

Well, it means that he has conquered death! Yes, but what does that mean? It’s great, I appreciate it, but if this holiday is so huge and so integral to the Christian faith, how exactly is my life suppose to change because of this? What does it mean for me, Deanna, in Michigan on April 8th, 2010 to live as if “death has been conquered”? We no longer have to fear death because Christ has be victorious! Once again, what does that mean? When I wake up tomorrow at exactly 7:45am, how should my life be different because of that fact? Because right now it doesn’t. And at least, it doesn’t in most people’s lives that I know. So why is this holiday like a lesser cousin to Christmas for the church?

It’s just a too well packaged, too concise a holiday full of over-arching phrases that have lost their deeply practical meanings. I now am in a place in my life where I have to step away and approach this all from a different angle to even keep it around.

Maybe this is exactly what people mean when they say “Christmas is dead.” It’s not so much that other people (or things) killed it (because if I hear ONE more person say that commercialism killed Christmas, I will probably snap), it’s that it’s lost all meaning in and of itself and it’s lying there on the ground, and all that’s left to say is “I either need to give this holiday a funeral, or take time to find true meaning in it.”

The night before Easter, my husband and I ate dinner over at my family’s house, which was wonderful. There was wonderful food, lots of laughing, and a few Office episodes squeezed in. It was warm, sweet, and what I hope to be doing every Easter. Sunday morning we (surprise!) slept in, went to see Clash of the Titans (because we all know that Easter is not properly celebrated without a Greek mythology 3D action flick), and then went over to Drew’s house to enjoy the new Rob Bell video (happy lights?) and delicious food with his folks and our small semblance of a house church.

We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to celebrate Easter. We just talked about the video for a few minutes, and then went upstairs and spent the next 7 hours just talking.

This is what I desperately need in my life. No amount of new dresses, annoying white sandals, or Easter cantatas can deliver, for me personally, what I need on Easter or in the rest of my life. I don’t need formality, I don’t want gospel songs (GASP!). I need connection, sounding boards, people to laugh with and people who (I am resisting the urge to say “edify” because no one really knows what that means) challenge my own thoughts and ideas. While most of the conversation was talking about the French Connection UK brand of clothing, griping about Flash and how we can’t wait for HTML5, Keisha lyrics, and all things pop culture, we often have conversations that last late into the night about All the Things That Matter. We sit around watching movies and end up in mind-blowing conversations about point of views, the rifts between political parties, the reason Detroit is dying and how it should change, religion and what it means in our lives, etc.

All of it is meaningful, and I am a better person every time I leave those conversations.

If traditional Easter services work for you, great. But they don’t do it for me anymore. They’ve become devoid of meaning because I’m jaded and because I harbor cynicism that’s crept into my life over the last couple of years. I had to find a different way to see Jesus this year. I had to find Him in the people around me and in the community of close friends that I call home. And even in all my pessimism and irritation with my perception of the church, He still showed up. And that, is what I desperately needed to know on Easter this year.

Here’s to finding what you need, and here’s to looking at Easter in a new way.

So, Happy Easter. Or for those of you who hate cantatas, Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

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Categories: Faith, God Project
  1. Josh
    April 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    **”Well, it means that he has conquered death! Yes, but what does that mean? It’s great, I appreciate it, but if this holiday is so huge and so integral to the Christian faith, how exactly is my life suppose to change because of this? What does it mean for me, Deanna, in Michigan on April 8th, 2010 to live as if “death has been conquered”? We no longer have to fear death because Christ has be victorious! Once again, what does that mean? When I wake up tomorrow at exactly 7:45am, how should my life be different because of that fact?”**

    Hey Deanna, just wanted to share my heart in regards to the above paragraph and the blog as a whole.

    I believe with everything that I am that the implications of “Jesus conquering death” are so vastly important to us as Christians, that we must not only ingrain and root them so deeply into our everyday lives so that it spreads to everything we are and do, but we must also take every precaution to never let those roots dry up and wither away.

    I know that you are a VERY bright women, and you don’t need church or anything other then God’s word to tell you what “Jesus conquering death” really means and I submit to you that the only true source for our knowledge and wisdom comes from Jesus himself. We must be very cautious in looking to any other source, no matter how “good” it makes us feel, outside of God’s word. The church, pastors, friends, music, mentors, books, movies(and anything else I’m forgetting) can be great and powerful mediums in pointing and educating and bringing us closer to our Saviour, our king, our father, our friend, our substitution, our God; But at any point, any of these mediums can cease to bring us to our God….why? Because they are not Jesus Christ himself. Only in Him can we have complete joy and satisfaction, and because they are not God we need to be VERY careful that they are always pointing us to Him and not to what makes us “feel” good inside; and if they cease to fulfill that job we cannot look to them for truth any longer.

    This response is in no way meant to judge or to imply that you don’t already know everything I have just said, No, this response is to bring encouragement. As I read your blog, a sense of complete thankfulness and utter amazement came over me as i thought of what Jesus’s finished work on the cross really means and I had to comment. I know i’m late, but congrats on your marriage, its a hard ride sometimes but it is soooooooooooooooooo awesome!!

    Josh

  2. Josh
    April 10, 2010 at 1:49 am

    oops, I meant “*post(not blog) as a whole”

  3. Tim
    April 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Deanna-
    You’ve hit on one of the major problems with the holiday of Easter, and to a lesser extent: Christmas, that everyone on all sides of the pulpit struggle with. I’ve spoken with my dad a few times about this, and his huge problem with being a preacher on Easter and Christmas is this: he needs to tell the same story that has been told every year, but in a new way. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do. After 20ish years of hearing it, it can certainly wear a little thin. I just wanted to point out that you’re not alone in Easter-cynicism.

    • whythulc
      April 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      TMCG! Thanks for commenting. I always forget that you’re Dad’s a preacher. I’m sure you have an interesting take on this whole thing too, being a pastor’s kid. I admire your Dad’s diligence.

  4. Another Josh
    April 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I am intrigued at my generation’s cynicism of the church. There are so many problems that we like to pick at and point out, but honestly were talking about the Bride of Christ. If some were to be as overly critical of my wife, I would have to punch them and punch them many times. With that said I would agree that there are problems with how the church does things, but I only say that with much fear and trepidation because like to avoid a beating by the church’s husband.
    Instead I will thank him for his wonderful gift of sending his son Jesus to die on the cross and rise again. I know that this is a wonderful gift that I will constantly be asking questions like yours, “What does it mean?” God in His wonderful justice had to punish a wrong that was done against Him, and found the perfect solution of a God-man in Christ who came to willingly pay for this wrong. He not only took the punishment but put His righteousness on me so that I could mend my relationship with God, and then He rose again so that I can have a relationship (because who honestly wants a relationship with a dead God). He rose again and broke the hold of death so that relationship is truly possible.
    What does this mean? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means that I have hope that this life is not the pinnacle because that would truly be a bummer.
    I have peace that I can fail because the price has already been paid. I don’t have to be perfect, which is great because I am far from it.
    I have a connection with others because He gave us the church to experience and enjoy this great gift together.
    I have freedom from sin and the expectation to sin, and instead a righteous standing.
    And on, and on, and on….I could continue to list out the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ. “Thank you, God, for this, and I ask, teach me more.” I am with you in that I have questions. I want to know more. I thoroughly enjoyed joining my church for the Easter festivites….we partied, as we should because this marks a time that changed all time. Our partying included the fancy dresses, another Easter sermon (it’s God’s awesome Word there is always something new that pops out for me but only when I’m looking), hymns, a Good Friday Service, and a family gathering where we ate ham and even had a good old fashioned egg hunt for my nephew. Okay, okay, most parties I enjoy don’t have fancy dresses or egg hunts, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all because I enjoy the meaning behind it all. “Thank you God for sending Christ for me.”

    • whythulc
      April 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      “I am intrigued at my generation’s cynicism of the church. There are so many problems that we like to pick at and point out, but honestly were talking about the Bride of Christ. If some were to be as overly critical of my wife, I would have to punch them and punch them many times. With that said I would agree that there are problems with how the church does things, but I only say that with much fear and trepidation because like to avoid a beating by the church’s husband.”

      I understand what you’re saying. The church is ultimately a family, and criticizing a family is not always helpful or kind, and can sometimes do more harm than good. But what you also left out of your analogy, is the fact that this is a relationship as well. If you are in a marriage and your wife is ignoring you, constantly tearing you down, not listening, and making life generally miserable for you, then it’s time to speak up. Things can be awkward for a while, and she probably won’t like that you’re calling her out, but without speaking up there is no healing or change.

      Also, are you saying that Jesus is the abusive husband in this relationship with an anger management problem just waiting for his wife to say the wrong thing to get an excuse to hit her? I disagree entirely. Thank God (pun intended) he doesn’t smite people for asking questions!

      “Instead I will thank him for his wonderful gift of sending his son Jesus to die on the cross and rise again. I know that this is a wonderful gift that I will constantly be asking questions like yours, “What does it mean?” God in His wonderful justice had to punish a wrong that was done against Him, and found the perfect solution of a God-man in Christ who came to willingly pay for this wrong.”

      I appreciate the sentiment, but this is exactly what I am talking about. I need people to explain all this in plain English. I could have told you this exact paragraph, but only because it’s full of automatic, sleepless code words that are over-used to the point where they no longer have dusty, deep, down to earth meanings anymore. I have been in church since leaving the birth canal. I could tell you all this stuff in my sleep. I’m just wanting to talk about all this all over again and convey it in a manner that actually touches my meetings all day, movie watching, day-in-and-out software job, writer’s life.

      The one thing in life we all fear is death. Someone puts a gun to your head as the ultimate bargaining chip, and WE ALWAYS LISTEN because we fear death! So, the fact that I owe and give allegiance to someone who has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt in the Hell gift shop, means a lot. Resurrection is unusual and weird. So it’s not just the happy “rose again and broke the hold of death” that I would usually use to describe this event, it’s like… What? That’s weird. Zombie Jesus? He’s not dead anymore? That never happens. Wait, WHAT!?

      I went for blood work a couple of months back and they found that I am missing some kind of clotting factor in my blood, and that I need to go see a specialist because something isn’t right. That terrifies me. I got the results in August and I haven’t made the appointment because I am so genuinely afraid of finding out something could be wrong, that I just am paralyzed by the whole thing. If Easter truly is about resurrection and rebirth, it needs to effect my life HERE. Not just a new dress or ham dinners. It needs to effect my life in a way that says I can lay my fear to rest in its hollow grave and be reborn tomorrow in a trust that even if this life all goes to hell and I wind up with some weird disease that gives me a year to live, that it’s not the end of the world and that my life still means something in the end and that at least someone upstairs won’t forget about me.

      That’s what Easter is. And that’s what it should be. But I never received that kind of message in church. And it’s not really anyone’s fault, and I don’t hate God, I’m just asking questions about traditional presentations of things like big Christian holidays because I think for some people they are hollow, and they have SUCH a potential to have real, profound, life changing meanings. They just need to find how to reach those people. Like me. I’m not perfect, and I don’t know what’s best, because I could be wrong. I just know one thing: I’m hungry. And I’m simply trying to communicate my feelings, because I know I’m not alone in this and there’s a whole segment of people that are just dying of hunger, that are left in the dark in hollow religions. I’m only asking questions, and telling the Bride “I’m really sorry, but I’m kind of miserable. I need to feel like you are hearing me, that I actually do matter in this life, and that I’m not just worshipping a flannelgraph Jesus that doesn’t care about anything but leaving tracts on park benches.”

  5. April 12, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Another Josh — I think you’re confusing what our cynicism is geared towards: the messenger not the message. Take the recent controversy with the Catholic Church, pedophile priests (again!) and the lack of institutional response (or, effective response). Or, look at the countless scandals with Evangelical leaders. Than look at how their attitudes directly reflect the actions of those they’re condemning. It’s hypocritical, and confusing.

    That’s why I, and Deanna, feel okay questioning tradition, why is it there? What’s the point of it? While I think tradition is important, and has a great place in our lives (both spiritually and non-spiritually) it also has a tendency to make it really, really easy to just really, really fake it. It’s healthy to question traditions and common practices–it helps us grow stronger as a follower of Christ, a disciple, a Christian, or whatever label you want to slap on. It’s not the message, but the messenger and their delivery.

    I agree, the Resurrection is an awesome thing, but my main issue with it is how it has always been viewed as a means to an end. The Resurrection gives me eternal life, access to the Kingdom, but what does that mean? I get to live after death? While I agree, I’m excited that this isn’t the pinnacle, but what hope does that give me? That everything I do here means jack? That makes the Resurrection seem empty and pointless, if all it does is tell me to forget now and live for the future. But I think you’re right: it makes me happy this isn’t the end, because it accentuates everything. It tells me that there is still work to be done here, people to love, needs to be met, and while Jesus is busy preparing his comeback, I’ll be busy doing what Jesus showed us. Showing people what it means to live in the Kingdom. And it will matter.

  1. April 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm
  2. May 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

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