Easter Meanings, Easter Joys

“What is all this juice and all this joy?”

– Gerald Manley Hopkins

“As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.”

– Walt Whitman

Photo of easter eggs in various colorsWhen I was growing up in the predominantly Humanist Unitarian Universalist church of Worcester, MA, Easter had nothing at all to do with Jesus. But it was still a special Sunday- both at home and at church.

We dressed up in our Easter best, unlike most Sundays. We hunted for hidden eggs in the morning then went off to church where we got to sing Lo, the earth awakes again! with great gusto and joy.  (At least I did.) Easter was all about celebrating and expressing delight in amazing, spectacular LIFE!

It was only when I became a minister that I started to try to figure out the Jesus part of Easter. That’s the part that many of you may have grown up with, and some of you still deeply value. I have come to see the story of Jesus and his followers as another layer that adds to the meaning of the holiday. For me, the Jesus story brings in the human dimension; it brings in the human relationships and love that last even beyond loss and death, as well as the celebration and expression of that amazing, spectacular love.

I still love to color and hide Easter eggs and make my kids run around looking for them outside on an Easter morning. I love that at Easter you can see pagan symbols everywhere- chicks, bunnies, flowers, eggs hiding in green grass. I love that earth-centered symbols persist; that they have been resurrected by people and by secular, consumerist society and so have the last word after centuries of being overlaid by Christianity. I still love singing Lo, the earth awakes again!; in fact, for me, Easter wouldn’t BE Easter without singing that hymn. But since we offer folks the choice of which version of the words to sing, sometimes I’ll slip in a verse of the newfangled (to me) hymn Jesus Christ Has Risen Today”- like the third verse that says Hearts are strong and voices sing… Where, O death, is now thy sting?

However you celebrate Easter, whomever you celebrate with, however its meaning touches you, I hope you look up from whatever preoccupies you or weighs you down, and feel some joy.

Yours, impatiently waiting to eat the Easter eggs,
Rev. Lee