Holiday traditions develop within a nation, among ethnic groups, and in individual families. Traditions memorialize an event, encasing its significance and ensuring its continuity. They warm our hearts, stir our emotions, and spark our memories. Traditions are those precious treasures that our children will remember long after they have forgotten our words.
Easter is one of those holidays that is replete with tradition. Signs of the approaching holiday can be found everywhere. The stores’ shelves are filled with candy for the customary Easter baskets. Community groups are organizing and advertising Easter egg hunts. Department stores have spring fashions on display in hopes to sell seasonal Easter bonnets, patent leather shoes, and pastel clothing. Families are making plans to convene for that Easter luncheon and fellowship time with the too seldom seen relatives. And, usually, somewhere in the list of traditional Easter activities is a trip to church.
The church service with its hymns, scripture readings, and sermon is a tradition that is rooted in the actual event of the resurrection of Jesus. On the first Easter season, then known as Passover, Jesus had been brought to trial on trumped up charges, found guilty based upon false witnesses, and sentenced to death upon a Roman cross. The Messiah’s short-lived but impressive career as teacher, healer, and miracle worker had come to an abrupt halt, carrying with it the dreams and aspirations of His followers. From their point of view, His promises and their hopes were buried with the body of the Lord.
But Easter morning came! Women arrived at the tomb as the day was dawning to find the stone that had sealed the tomb removed and the body of Jesus gone. At the grave, they encountered an angel who announced that Jesus had risen. Their Lord was alive; their hope was revitalized. The resurrection of Jesus was an actual, historic event that not only changed the lives of His disciples so long ago but is still changing the lives of His followers today.
The Easter tradition of church attendance serves to memorialize the resurrection of Jesus, encasing its significance and ensuring its continuity. Unlike the tradition of the Easter bunny that has its roots in imaginary characters and children’s fables, Jesus really lived, really died, really rose from the dead, and really lives eternally. Of all our Easter traditions, the most weighty, the most significant, the most enduring is that trip to church to celebrate the resurrection.
As you make your plans for this coming Easter season, pick a church –any church. Celebrate Easter. Celebrate with the tradition of church attendance.