I’ve been thinking about Easter, it’s meaning and origins and how to explain it all to my young boys.
And in doing so, where my own faith sits. I was brought up in a church-centric household. Sundays were full of sermons, hymns, Sunday school and visiting friends within the congregation. I accepted what I was told. Even the far-fetched and difficult to believe. Without question, I took it on-board vaguely thinking it would all make sense when I grew up.
As a kid I thought adulthood would be a time when I would ponder, discuss and understand the mysteries of faith. I didn’t realise that adulthood would primarily consist of being so wrapped in the small minutiae of life that the big stuff would go unnoticed.
My boys are not growing up in a churchy family. My own faith has been rocked by a number of things. I’ve been betrayed, more than once, by people who cloak themselves in self righteousness. These are my issues and they exist primarily with the organised church than the central messages contained in scripture. A lot of people fall into this category – I know I am not the only who has been burnt. But it seems a pity to throw it all out with the holy water.
My kids are going to catholic schools and I want them to have a grounding in Christian faith. Particularly with respect to kindness, forgiveness and empathy. So it’s important to me that Easter means something beyond chocolate eggs and fluffy bunnies.
But it’s hard. It’s a hard story. A violent story. No cute baby in a manger surrounded by adorable animals and welcomed by kings and angels. This is a story of rejection, of betrayal, of suffering, of redemption and the eventual triumph of love over death. It’s not easy stuff.
I remember Easter sermons of my childhood. The original fire and brimstone preachers were still around. Their Easter message was brutal. It should have been you on the cross, your hands nailed, you suffering for your sins. The mother of all guilt trips is not what I want my children to take from Easter.
Our Easter is a Christian adaptation of a pagan festival welcoming spring and new life. We don’t welcome spring in Australia (although the weather feels like it) but welcoming new life, new beginnings and new chances remains relevant. For me, the story of Easter is in selfless sacrifice, enormous love, the triumph of both and the new beginnings that brings.
For me this is the part of Easter that I want to emphasise with my boys. The power and the love in forgiveness. The enormity of love defying even death. And the new beginnings that kind of love makes possible.