Thursday, March 28, 2013

We are Easter "Peep-le"

My older daughter, while in seminary, had the privilege of celebrating Passover with the family for whom she worked. As she shared her reflections on this ancient tradition, I couldn't help but wish that our Easter traditions were more about religious remembrance, and less about bonnets and bunnies. Yet, when I think back over the dozens of Easter celebrations of my life, I cannot do so without a smile. Joy is the order of the day on Easter and new life can be celebrated in so many ways. The trees and the wildflowers have burst into bloom, the birds are in a frenzy of nesting and mating, singing their hearts out as spring blows away the bleak and cold of the winter months. People too are coming out of homes where they have been sheltered for months, eager to open themselves to some warm sunshine, and it seems, to one another. The return of spring each year is a profound experience of resurrection, worthy of celebration.

There will be plenty of solemnity this week, especially on Friday, but the joy cannot be repressed. And the joy is the part of Easter that the children best understand. The children feel it on a primal level. The stirring of new life makes them almost giddy as the days grow longer and color bursts upon the earth. They may not understand death, but they understand life at its fullest, which may be the truest way to understand resurrection.

Several years ago a young pastor introduced the Easter Vigil to our congregation, and it seemed almost shocking to celebrate Easter late at night with fire and drums and remembrances of Old Testament stories we don't normally associate with Jesus and Easter. The service ends with a burst of light and noise and is soon followed by the popping of champagne corks and indulging in chocolate after the fast. It is a profoundly joyful experience - not to be missed if the opportunity presents itself.

In the face of all this, our most abiding family Easter tradition seems tacky and silly, yet the annual ritual never fails to bring smiles. I guess it can best be described as "blowing up the peeps." Take those little marshmallow confections, put them on a paper plate in the microwave, and heat them on high. Like marshmallows at a campfire, they will grow and grow and grow. And as they do they will morph into grotesque shapes that never fail to amuse the children watching. Well into college the children I have spent most Easters with continued the ritual, and the joyful laughter. 

Christ, through death and resurrection, came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. On this most profound day of our faith, let us rejoice, and share the joy with even the  youngest among us.

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