Philosophy Lite: A time of new beginnings
Spring has sprung and the landscape has come to life. Trees are leafing out, the birds are singing, the rains have come and wildflowers are everywhere. Spring is a time of renewal.
It's easy to see the connection between this event and our renewal after this life. Martin Luther has said, "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time."
One of the significant events of the season is the celebration of Easter - one of the two most important religious observances of the year and certainly the most well attended Sunday service of the year.
We do not know the time of Jesus' birth, but we do know the time of the resurrection because Easter is closely related to the Jewish passover. "Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christians holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw in the winter Olympics." (Marvin Olasky)
In pre-Christian Germany, the Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal's high reproduction rate. Most early Christians kept the Passover as written by Paul in I Corinthians 5:7-8.
It was the council of Nicea in 325 that Easter was tied to the vernal equinox, which is March 21. Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs upon or next after that equinox. It can fall between March 22 and April 25. To this day, the non-believers celebrate Easter and the Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Neither Christmas or Easter is called for in the Bible, but I see no problem in having those observances, since they call attention to our Savior's life and message. It is our responsibility to separate out all pagan influences.
The great gift of Easter is the assurance of bodily resurrection and a new life in glory where we will see our Savior face to face. Job asked, if a man die, will he live again? The answer is a resounding yes.
Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." He laid down his life for all who would believe from that time forward until he comes again. Moreover, that laying down His life was on a Roman Cross, the cruelest and most painful death imaginable.
The loss of friends and relatives can seem overwhelming at times, but we can be confident that we will be reunited upon our own death, for, "The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and mortal with immortality." (1 Cor. 15:52-53) When our time comes, we can face death fearlessly.
As we partake communion this season, let us try to grasp anew the words of Jesus from John 14:19: "Because I live, ye shall live also."
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria