Last week, we celebrated Palm Sunday, granted a lot differently than in years past when we were all waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna!” Well, this week we are also celebrating a lot differently and shouting, “Alleluia, Alleluia, He is risen!” Who are we talking about that arose on Easter Sunday? You got it – Jesus. He overcame death to begin a new day of us being able to have our sins forgiven and eventually live with Him in heaven. This year, even when we are staying at home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, we are still celebrating Easter and Christ’s resurrection. That has not changed nor will it ever!
When you get up this Easter morning, I bet many of you will still have something waiting for you. Will you get an Easter basket full of goodies – maybe colored eggs, candy, chocolate, bunnies, some little toys? Did you ever wonder what an Easter basket has to do with Jesus’ resurrection? Well, I did, so I researched it and found out some rather interesting things. I have been asked to repeat the information I found a few years ago.
Long ago, the church said people were not allowed to eat eggs during Holy Week, so any eggs that were laid by the chickens during this week were saved and decorated to make them “Holy Week eggs.” Then they were given to the children as gifts. Today, we still color and decorate eggs. When the eggs are cracked open, the empty shell reminds us of the empty tomb. The eggs don’t seem alive, but they have life within them, especially at springtime when chicks hatch out. The children put their Holy Week eggs in hats or baskets filled with colored straw to resemble a bird’s nest. Those were the first Easter baskets. The Europeans took the Holy Week egg a step farther and started making the eggs out of chocolate which made them really good to eat. When the chocolate eggs were covered with foil, they could be decorated even prettier.
The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become popular during the 1800s. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies during the Spring, so they became a symbol of new life too – just like Jesus gives us new life in Him. So all the real bunnies we see and chocolate ones we eat at Easter are supposed to remind us of the new life we receive when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Easter is a very, very special time for us as Christians. NOTHING can ever change the importance or message of Easter and Jesus’ rising again from the grave. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection – where He overcame His death on the cross and came back to life. He did this, so we could overcome death too and live with Him forever. So this Sunday afternoon when you are eating some of that chocolate egg or marshmallow bunny from your Easter basket, you’ll have some idea why we celebrate this special church holiday with colored eggs, bunnies, and chicks in a basket filled with colored straw. Remember, Jesus is still Lord and King and more powerful than anyone or anything that comes to make us afraid.
Let’s say a prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You so much for dying and rising for us, so that we might have new life in You. Thank You also for giving us traditions that are meant to remind us of what You did for us – and especially in such a yummy way. Please be with all those who are fighting this virus, either as those who are ill or those who are helpers. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.