Monday, 24 March 2008

Why celebrate Easter?

OK - the question's a wee bit misleading. What I really mean is why celebrate Easter in a special way, on a date determined by the moon and the vernal equinox? I remember having a conversation with one of our deacons several years ago, when we discussed the merits of any 'special' days in the ecclesiastical calendar. After all, we should live each day in the light of Easter ...

I suppose there's a cultural element of Calvinstic suspicion of high days and holy days behind this thought process!

Having said that, I do believe that we should celebrate Easter in a special way. In part because it's one of those occasions when people attend church who wouldn't ordinarily cross the threshold. So it's an oppor-chance-ity for them to hear about Jesus.

But I think there's a more important reason. I think that it's a chance for Christians to reflect on the theological significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. Now I know that talking of theology puts some people off, but there are ways to do this without over-complicating things.

I was listening to a podcast recently featuring the late Jaroslav Pelikan talking about the
Need for Creeds. Pelikan has studied Christian creeds in depth - and despite my Calvinistic suspicion of creeds (anyone spotting a recurring theme?), I think that there is great value in using creeds to communicate longstanding beliefs.

Two things stood out for me in the Pelikan podcast:

1 - He spoke of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (used in the Greek Orthodox church), where the congregation say, "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess the Holy Trinity one in essence and undivided." In other words, the creeds exist within the context of love - God's love for us and our relationships in a loving community.

2 - He also said that one of his favourite creeds is the
Maasai creed. I'd never heard this before, but I think that it's absolutely wonderful!
"... always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love"
Easter is for creeds? Any thoughts?


That Hideous Man said...

Although the Calvinists have been traditionally very credal. Calvin was keen to assert the historic creedal orthodoxy of his Reformed churches, while his heirs were themselves great producers of creeds and confessions.

His Girl Friday said...

I think that creeds are good, in that they do convey the longstanding belief of a group (as long as the group practices what it preaches! ;))

Brother Mark said...

I believe as Christians, we should
seek the truth of scripture.
Anything false in our traditions of men...lead us away from the truth.

My beef is calling the resurrection
the name of Baal. It serves no good purpose. The name Easter is used one time in The KJV and it is a mistranslation of the word passover.

I say forget Easter and celebrate
the resurrection leaving out Pagan
terminology. Celebrate the Resurrection on the day it happened....on Firstfruits !
makes more sense.

God Bless,

nonprofitprophet said...

I just got thru leading a study over The Apostle's Creed... it is interesting to actually understand the words you are saying, instead of mindlessly repeating them sunday after sunday, where they loose their effectiveness. This Creed is very good as it covers all the basics of Christianity. ~npp

Lins Honeyman said...

Not knowing much about Creeds (except of the Clearwater Revival type)...

The BBC's The Passion really made a difference to me this Easter. I guess it really brought on home to me that God actually walked the earth and suffered for us. Ok, so the programme used some poetic licence but it really helped me to understand my Saviour that bit more.

Endlessly restless said...

Thanks for all your comments.

Aye it's funny that we view creeds with a wee bit of suspicion - I guess that over the centuries the views of Calvin have dimmed as our prejudices have taken priority in our thoughts.

Our church housegroups studied the Apostles Creed a few years ago, which I really enjoyed. Challenging, but rewarding.

I like the way that the creeds bring us back to important truths and the foundations of our faith.

I agree that we need to live accordingly, and avoid mindless repetition - although there is a place for more familiarity in my view.

I also think that there is scope for modern and culturally relevant creeds - although the key has to be 'relevant'.

Finally, like Lins, I enjoyed the Passion. For all its flaws and liberty-taking with the gospel story, it did provoke thought and that's got to be a good thing!

lucy said...

i am choosing not to step into the creed conversation, but wanted you to know i particularly liked this line:

"After all, we should live each day in the light of Easter ..." i wonder what that would look like? lots of love and light, i imagine :-)