Saturday, April 19, 2008

Give the Pagans Back Their Easter Bunnies and Eggs

I am greatly troubled by how the church so often looks just like the world. We have even brought pagan holidays right into our assemblies. One of the worst offenses happens in almost every evangelical church just as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord (I know we should be celebrating Jesus' resurrection every time we gather, but let's leave that for another post).

On Resurrection Sunday, more popularly known as Easter, our churches often celebrate by having the little kids run around the church grounds looking for hidden eggs full of candy. The children usually draw or paint some kind of picture of a bunny while in Sunday School. In order to spiritualize it all, the pictures sometimes have a rabbit with a basket of eggs praying in front of a cross. Yuck.

Could we please just give the pagans back their traditions?

We recently received a newspaper clipping from my in-laws, who live in Northern New York State. The clipping shows a few pagans celebrating the spring equinox at St. Lawrence University. The article says, "Attendees celebrated Ostara, a nature-based festival centered on the spring equinox."

Describing the celebration, the reporter writes of what occurred after a drumbeat started, "Unable to resist the rhythm, attendees began to twirl and dance in a circle. Lights streamed through the stained-glass windows as attendees processed around the altar, a table bearing candles and ritual items. Attendees invoked the powers of north, south, east, and west, symbolized by earth, fire, air, and water."

One part of the article in particular caught my attention. It reads, "One of the attendees portrayed the 'Ostara Bunny,' by donning rabbit ears and hopping around the room to offer chocolates and eggs."

The person dressed as the bunny said, "We're also reclaiming the symbols the Christians have assimilated. Eggs and rabbits are fertility symbols. Spring promises a new beginning, just like eggs promise a new beginning - a new life."

If pagans want their own symbols returned, then let's do it. If they want the word "Ostara," then let's give them "Easter." Why don't we just call the Christian celebration "Resurrection Sunday"?

If pagans want their bunnies and eggs returned, then let's cooperate. They can have them. This would only help the church get rid of pagan ideas that have made the church more worldly over the years.

Could we please just look to the bible to gain our beliefs and practices instead of always compromising with culture? Could we allow the scriptures to guide all we do in the church?

Let's give the pagans back their bunnies and eggs. While we're at it, let's be rid of Santa Claus, too.

20 comments:

Rhea said...

Wasn't Santa Claus supposed to be loosely based off of some Christian who helped out the poor? Did he give gifts and such to poor children, or is he (the idea of Santa Claus) more directly related to some pagan celebration?

Eric said...

Rhea,

I'm no expert on Santa Claus, but I think you are correct. My main point of mentioning him was just that I think the church as a whole would be better off without bringing him into the celebration of Christ's birth.

Thanks.

Bethany W. said...

Eric,
I think you are right on! My husband and I were deeply convicted of this form of idolatry about 3 years ago. Since that time we have put far less emphasis on these holidays or stopped celebrating them all together.

And, if someone disagrees in my use of the word "idolatry" then let me remind readers that an idol is something that replaces God that we don't want to give up. Have you seen what happens when a preacher recommends to the church that they remove such icons from the church building (or even worse, their whole lives)?! Take it from me - it isn't pretty!

Rhea said...

Eric:

I totally agree with you...I only mentioned it b/c I was curious if in reality "Santa Claus" was actually some pagan god. I still think that with Santa Claus, we're in a bad situation, but I was just wondering if it were worse than I had originally thought :-)

I think that we agree a lot regarding the way the church has chosen to celebrate Easter and Christmas. Personally, I think that I'd rather follow the Jewish custom of Passover, and then perhaps the Sunday after Passover, do a "Resurrection Sunday" type deal (though, just like you said, every Sunday is in essence, "Resurrection Sunday")., specifically recalling how the Jewish holiday of Passover got its start, and how we now have Jesus as our Passover Lamb.

Eric said...

Bethany,

I'm glad to hear that you and Paul agree with us on this. We cringe every Easter when the paganism begins.

I have to admit that I am not looking forward to confronting ardent defenders of traditions such as this in the church.

Eric said...

Rhea,

I think Santa is OK in his origins. I don't see pagan beginnings for him.

As for Passover, I also wish we at least made more mention of it. I think Christ transformed the Passover celebration into the Lord's Supper, but that doesn't mean Passover itself now has no meaning. I wonder what Messianic Jews do at Passover?

Rhea said...

It's my understanding that at least some Messianic Jews celebrate Passover, but then focus on how Jesus has become the "ultimate" Passover Lamb (probably not the best way to word it, but I think that you get the gist of what I'm trying to say). To me, I really like that idea....I think that far too often we completely disconnect the NT from the OT...I'd like to see the church as a whole put more of an emphasis on the continuity of the Bible, and specifically how the OT relates with the NT.

Banner Kidd said...

If the professing church were to believe the words of Messiah in Matthew 5 they would study and apply Torah. HE said we are to do Torah and teach Torah. And if we begin to do and teach Torah, according to Scripture without man's additions and subtractions, the pagan practices will begin to disappear. The Feasts of Yahweh are what we are commanded to observe and we are likewise commanded to have nothing to do with pagan worship of the sun god in his various names and forms - Easter, Christmas, etc...

And for the one who doesn't see a problem with Santa and Christmas... they are of pagan origin. Check the historical record. It's easy to find.

The clarion call of Yeshua and the apostolic writers is the same as that of the prophets - repent and return to Torah. The gospel preached througout time is that if we hear HIS Voice, obey HIS commandments, keeping HIS covenant then, and only then, will we be HIS people, and we will be special above all the people of the earth. HE will make us kings and priests in HIS kingdom.

Come out, come out, come out of Babylon into the glorious kingdom of Yahweh! It is where true blessings, peace and joy reign in love because HE is love. Those remaining in paganism are settling for far less and quite possibly could, if they continue in idolatry, end up missing the kingdom. In lawlessness the veil remains and the true Messiah and the comprehension of HIS Scripture is is not realized or recognized.

Cindy said...

I am not a Messianic Jew, but we do strive to observe God's commanded festivals, which includes Passover. It is my understanding that many Messianic Jews keep Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in much the same way that Jews have done so for centuries. We bought a really good DVD from Zola Levitt Ministries called The Miracle of Passover, which does a really good job of explaining the Passover seder (service) and the many ways in which the Messiah is portrayed in it. There's just so much meaning in the Passover service and understanding these things has really made me appreciate my Savior and His sacrifice for me all the more. For me, nothing about "Easter" in the church can hold a candle to Passover, which God commanded His people to observe, and which Jesus Himself observed. Four yrs ago my husband & I decided to stop celebrating "Easter" and Christmas, choosing instead to focus on the holy days which God commanded His people to observe. We have been misunderstood and have taken plenty of flack for our stand, but have been so blessed as we have learned the lessons our Father "hid" within these special times--foretelling of our LORD's birth, life, death, resurrection, and soon return to reign as King of kings and LORD of lords. I've spent most all my life (51 yrs) in church and nothing I've experienced there of church traditions comes close to the meaning I've found in keeping God's commanded holy days. There are plenty of websites with info available on how the Biblical holy days are observed, if anyone's interested. One really good one is BiblicalHolidays.com. You might also be able to find the book, Celebrating Biblical Feasts in Your Home or Church, by Martha Zimmerman, Bethany House Publishers, C. 2004, another good resource. Passover has got bunnies, colored eggs, candy, Easter bonnets, sunrise services, etc beat hands down! Do look into it. You won't be sorry! Take care and may the grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with you!
Love in our Messiah,
Cindy in Wisconsin

Eric said...

Rhea,

I agree that we need to put more emphasis on the OT. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to at least mention the Passover at every Lord's Supper celebration. When people understand the meaning of the Passover, they gain a fuller understanding of just how amazing Jesus' sacrifice is for us.

Eric said...

Banner Kidd,

Thanks for your comment.

I agree that we need to return to the Torah. This would benefit individual Christians and the church as a whole. Since the Torah points to Christ, it will help us better understand what He has done for us and better comprehend how to live for Him.

Eric said...

Cindy,

Thank you for commenting on this blog.

Thanks for the information you have mentioned. I agree that Passover has a great deal of amazing truth in it that points ahead to Christ. The imagery of the slain lamb helps us all to better comprehend Christ's perfect sacrifice.

It is exciting for me to see Christians who are rejecting the paganism of Christmas and Easter. Those days are more for retail sales than anything else. I must say that I'm not surprised that you have been misunderstood.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

I'm interested in your last comment to Rhea where you say,"I agree that we need to put more emphasis on the OT."

Because I have realized (from our previous exchanges) that somewhere in our individual use of the English language our minds don't fully connect (but I'm really trying), the following comment should not be understood as a criticism of anything you have or your correspondents have written.

My major concern in this country is the opposite to the sentiments in your quoted sentence: Here,O.T. (law) is preached at the expense of N.T.(grace). As a result we see congregations of very proud people, who, like the Pharisees,openly boast about how well they "perform", because that is the expectation placed on them from the pulpit.

In fifty years of ministry, I have found very few Baptist or other similar evangelical conservatives who do not believe that they fully obey all of the Ten Commandments. When questioned as to their confidence of salvation, their common response is, "I obey the Ten Commandments is most often their first response".

Teaching the whole counsel of God from Genesis to The Revelation is extremely important, but what a joy, when teaching from the O.T, to be able to show the grace of God in Christ revealed in the O.T. through understanding the N.T.

By the way, it has also been my great joy to see that when our teaching is Christocentric, and our Lord and Saviour is given His rightful place of prominence, such issues as Christmas and Easter are non-events. God's people are simply far too focused on God's Greatest Gift to His people.

Eric said...

John,

Thank you for your comment. In reading back over my comment to Rhea, I wish I had used more precise language. I should have said that I would like to see more emphasis on the OT, but then clarified this by giving the purpose. I love to hear the teaching of the OT when it points us to our absolute inability to keep the law and our absolute need for a perfect Savior. When the Torah is taught accurately, it will be very Christocentric.

Thanks again. I appreciate your insight.

Goblin said...

There are a couple of problems I se with the whole Santa Claus idea. Firstly it is so tied into the modern god of consumerism and 'I gotta have...'. Secondly the whole deal with Santa is that parents tell children that Santa weighs up whether they've been bad or good, but then always seems to give them their presents anyway. It reinforces the concept that you are saved by your good deeds outweighing your bad ones and that God lets everyone into heaven anyway. That not a concept we should be teching our children in my view.

Eric said...

Goblin,

I completely agree with you. As a family, we agreed early on that Santa would have no place in our celebrations. I wish the same could be said for all American churches.

Goblin said...

and British ones too!

Eric said...

Goblin,

Sorry. I didn't mean to leave out the British churches, but since I've never been to Britain, I didn't think I could comment on the situation there. However, I'm not surprised to hear that our church situations are similar.

Goblin said...

I suppose to be honest I would have to say that evangelical churches in the UK do not 'major'on Santa Claus to any great extent. HOWEVER, individual Christians are another matter. Apart from avoiding the excessive consumption of alcohol which is an integral part of the non-christian celebration of 'Xmas', there is really very little material difference to distinguish between how Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas in the UK and the 'cultural norm' is followed without too much question. Exactly the same goes for Easter, only more so!

Eric said...

Goblin,

I guess we need to keep praying for revival in our churches on both sides of the Atlantic.