Jim Furlong: Two Views of Easter

Strangely enough Easter doesn’t jump up in our psyche and confront us the same way Christmas does. Christmas is a birthday. Easter is a crucifixion with death, and rebirth and speaks directly to the central theme of Christianity; redemption. That is what Christianity is all about; being saved; being redeemed.

The price paid by Jesus to free us from our sins was death. The word and the idea is still part of us. Redeeming coupons, redeeming air miles. It is paying for a kind of grace. Jesus paid, according to Christian thought, with his life to save us from our sins, and from eternal fire and damnation. That is what it is all about; being redeemed.

How to Explain

How do you explain that to a child? It’s easier at Christmas and the birth of Jesus. It is an easy link to Santa and good behaviour and reward. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. G.I. Joe and a Barbie Doll. Be good and get a gift. Be bad and get a lump of coal. It’s simple. It could be Santa determining who is naughty or nice or it could be Jesus. Remember in Trailer Park Boys? Ricky thought Santa and God were the same person. Easter is more difficult as a concept rather, than crime and punishment, there is redemption.

The Bible’s theme right through it all is that God is the ultimate redeemer, saving us from sin, evil and death. Redemption is an act of God’s grace by which he rescues and restores his people.

When we were in school we referred to Jesus as “The Redeemer.” The statue that is part of the main altar at the Basilica is called “The Redeemer in Death.” Redemption is part of virtually every page of the Bible.

I’m not a theologian or even a bible scholar. I’m just a man who used to be a little boy who put his cap down religiously for the Easter Bunny. That is an old English thing I believe. In school you wore a cap.

The Easter Bunny

How is that all related to Easter? The connection is not as easy as Christmas and Santa and Jesus. In fact, the Easter Bunny might actually be pagan in origin. You can go through the Bible until next Easter if you want and find no reference to long-eared rabbits or Easter eggs. Still the Easter bunny has squeezed himself in as a symbol of one of Christianity’s most important events. The irony is that the bunny may be related to a pagan rite of fertility that was celebrated around the vernal equinox. Rabbits are a symbol of fertility and well … procreation. (He said choosing his words very carefully).

So, put your cap out for the Easter bunny or spend the Easter weekend thinking about your redemption. Do both if you want. My family will celebrate. We are having ham and even a bit of salt beef.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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