Why do we celebrate Easter?

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By Ralph Damiani

The Bible says, “As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.’”It is this event upon which Christianity rose and that millions celebrate today. But is there more?Easter is the most important religious event in Christianity. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred on the third day after his crucifixion around A.D. 33.But it celebrates rebirth, renewal and hope – all things people throughout the ages have celebrated with spring.Many non-religious cultural elements have become part of the holiday and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike.Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the 40 days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the 50 days until Pentecost.So as we celebrate Christ’s life and resurrection, we must not lose sight of our history.After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastical spring, or vernal, equinox).Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. The Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion is generally thought of as a Passover meal.Now it is clear that Jesus was crucified on one day. So many may say that moving the date each year diminishes it. Not so.What Christians are celebrating is the event, not the day. And the event was tied to Passover, which does move about.Easter is tied to Passover. It was during this time that Christ was crucified. How does this tie into spring and hope?Passover is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance. Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the planting season. While the primary observances of Passover today are related to the Exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery, its origins are in spring.In that, we are celebrating life and hope in its best form.Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar, as is the Hebrew calendar.It is no accident that Passover is at the beginning of spring. This is earth’s time of rebirth and regeneration.It is all our time of hope.And this is the message of Christ – one of hope.So why celebrate Easter?In His death, Christ sacrificed for mankind to give them hope. That was His message. But that is also the message of spring in all cultures and beliefs. Spring is the time of rebirth.No matter what your beliefs, spring is a time to breathe deep of life and look to the future. It is a time to seek, to see. It is the message of Christ. It is the message of spring.It is the message of hope.It is a message we should all hear.

Some anti-hope

It was interesting to listen Barack Obama talk about racism in America. It is true, racism remains a problem in this nation – as it does in most nations.Only this nation tries to do something about it.But, that aside, I guess the biggest issue here is the racist, anti-American comments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. How do you justify such statements in a church?He has the right to his beliefs, no problem there. But in a church?There are problems to be sure in our society. But there are also vast opportunities for those who wish to take them. Is not Obama running for president of the United States?Simply sitting and blaming others for your problems does not seem to be a very constructive method of problem solving.But worst of all, when the people who are supposed to guide you to God, are supposed to give you hope and faith and His graces, only stand up in His house and spew such words, where does that leave us?We suspect there is much more to this than we know. You cannot judge a man from a 10-second spot. And we want to know. We cannot believe that Rev. Wright is a man of hate.He cannot be a man of God and be a man of hate. There is much more to this story.While we do not agree with Obama that his grandmother’s private comments equal Wright’s public ones, we have issues there.But we wish Wright would speak up, talk to the press and explain these comments – and many years of doing God’s work. We think most people are fair-minded and would listen.Wright’s silence really makes a person wonder: What did go on in that church?We would like to hear from him.