The Easter Season lasts 50 days until the Feast of Pentecost. It is filled with stories of great faith and transformation. The story of our life should be no different. We need to listen closely to the scriptures which recount the boldness of faith and the birthing of the Church.
Did you know that Easter gets its name from the pagan goddess of light Eastre? This works well because Christ is the light of the world. The Babylonians and Assyrians called their spring goddess Ishtar. In Phoenecia, she was known as Astarte. Her spring renewal festival celebration was a moveable event, centered around the vernal equinox.
It was in 325 that the Council of Nicea declared that the date observing the resurrection of the Lord would occur around the first day of spring. Thus, Easter would always be on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. (This year the full moon was on March 20th … and hence Easter Sunday was a bit later in the calendar.) Today, Eastre’s pagan celebration still survives with rabbits, eggs and buns. Easter bunnies? The rabbit was the symbol of new life, new spring and rebirth. Hot cross buns? Eastre celebrations featured these tasty treats. The word ‘bun’ comes from the Saxon boun, which means ‘sacred ox’. At the ceremony, an ox was sacrificed and little cakes were passed to the celebrants. The cakes had their tops scored in the shape of a ‘V’ to symbolize the sign of the ox’s horns. As this was such an integral part of the pagan feast, the Christians scored the buns with the Christian cross.
Every Easter Season – like all seasons within the Church year – provides us the opportunity to focus our minds and hearts toward Jesus in a special way. May we rise above whatever limits us or discourages us from realizing the fullness of Easter joy in our lives. Easter’s empty tomb reveals the transformation that can be ours in seeking reconciliation with one another, in possessing the greatness of heart to forgive and seek forgiveness, in seeking that unique and total joy that comes only from putting the joy of others before our own.
Make an effort to reclaim your particular moment of Easter joy. Having sacrificed during Lent, fill this Holy Season with a bounty of Christ’s compassion, forgiveness, and joy. Heal a broken relationship that is still in need of grace. See one another with eyes of hopefulness and the potential of His call to be whole. Take a moment to pray for someone who causes you angst, has hurt you or even for someone whom you intensely dislike. Turn it over to the Risen Christ!