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Easter BasketPastel plastic Easter eggs hanging from the trees, clumps of crinkly green plastic strips unconvincingly masquerading as greenery in gaily colored baskets: All this heralds the coming of Easter.

But wait! There's more! Stores display pictures of ducklings in their windows. Huge ribbons (pastel, again) appear as decorations. Folks start shopping in the Home and Garden section.

Easter parades don't seem to have survived the twentieth century, but this is still the time of year when we put away the bulky garments of winter and don festive finery.

Easter BunnyAnd, of course, there's the Easter Bunny. We're familiar with this charming fellow, who journeys across the face of the earth, hiding Easter Eggs and delivering delightfully decorated baskets of Easter goodies.

These cultural accretions to the Easter celebration have been around as long as I can remember. Except for the Incredible Pastel Plastic Egg Trees. You know what I'm talking about: leafless trees with plastic Easter eggs hung from their branches. I think that curious practice showed up around here ten or fifteen years ago.

I enjoy the colorful displays, even those crazy eggs hanging from twigs. It's a wonderful break from the snow, slush, snirt, snud and mud of spring. And it is nice, seeing people celebrate a cycle of nature by changing their clothing habits.

Easter Eggs

But there's more to Easter than that.

Jesus ... gave up his spirit.

I'll let someone who was around when Easter got started tell what happened, about 2,000 years ago.

"Then toward midafternoon Jesus cried out in a loud tone, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?', that is, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?. This made some of the bystanders who heard it remark, 'He is invoking Elijah. Immediately one of them ran off and got a sponge. He soaked it in cheap wine, and sticking it on a reed, tried to make him drink. Meanwhile the rest said, 'Leave him alone. Let's see whether Elijah comes to his rescue.. Once again Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and then gave up his spirit."

Matthew 27, 46-50


He has been raised from the dead

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene came with the other Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly, there was a mighty earthquake, as the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. He came to the stone, rolled it back, and sat on it. In appearance he resembled a flash of lightning while his garments were as dazzling as snow. The guards grew paralyzed with fear of him and fell down like dead men. Then the angel spoke, addressing the women: 'Do not be frightened. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised. Come and see the place where he was laid. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has been raised from the dead and now goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him." That is the message I have for you.'"

Matthew 28, 1-7

"The eleven disciples made their way to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had summoned them. At the sight of him, those who had entertained doubts fell down in homage. Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words,

'Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
Baptize them in the name
"of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit."
Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!

Matthew 28, 16-20

'I am with you always, until the end of the world!'

And so, for almost two millennia now, those who follow Jesus celebrate Easter: the day when Jesus rose from the dead.


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Text, other than quotes from Bible, is copyright Brian H. Gill 2003
Quotes from the Bible are from the New American Bible, St. Joseph's Edition.


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This page last updated: December 19, 2010