Why Easter Changes Everything
I get the sense that most Christians prefer Christmas to Easter. It's generally a happier time of the year, and everyone is festive. There just seems to be a level of excitement and enthusiasm that isn't really matched at Easter.
I think the Christmas story is profound, and it has significant implications for our lives—but I much prefer Easter to Christmas. Ultimately the message of Christmas is a little more passive; if you had to sum up the message of Christmas in one word, you'd probably choose incarnation. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, which is something that God did for us.
Easter, on the other hand, is something I personally feel like I can participate in. There are a lot of words to sum up Easter; some people might choose salvation, some atonement, some forgiveness, and others self-sacrifice. Each of those is a useful and true way to look at Easter. But for me, the most important description of Easter is resurrection. It's about more than being unafraid of death—it's a fundamental change in how we live in the world, because we know that all things are new, all things are being made new, and all things will one day be fully new. God is at work in our world, resurrecting goodness out of evil and life out of death. It reminds me of a letter that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to a friend, while he was in prison at the end of World War II:
"Easter? We're paying more attention to dying than to death. We're more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death. Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as 'the last enemy' (1 Cor. 15:26). There is a real difference between the two things; the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection. It's not from the art of dying but from the resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world….If a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed. To live in the light of the resurrection—that is what Easter means."
What would it mean for you to live in light of the resurrection, knowing that Easter has changed everything?