To Take Up One’s [Chocolate] Cross

I’m taking a week off from the “We’re Doomed” series in order to spend a few moments to rant a bit over Holy Week and mass consumer culture. It’s bad enough at Christmas, when the holiday feels almost completely detached from its religious significance. With Easter, I’m increasingly concerned, and appalled, by the elimination of the religious significance of the holiday.

Can’t Christians keep Easter for themselves? Why can’t the mass consumer culture come up with something else through which people can be lured into the purchasing of things that they don’t need? What about May Day? Or Arbor Day? They would make great days for mass consumerism.

Sure, there’s lots about Easter that is not connected to Christianity. Those eggs, for instance. And, the bunnies. Not in scripture. So, making those things into something sweet and ready for buying, giving and eating isn’t all that bad. But, now much clearer Christian symbols have been making their way to product shelves:

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What does it mean to eat a chocolate cross?  What does it mean to give one?  Will children who find this item in their Easter basket have any idea of its meaning or significance?  I can’t help but all of those kids who encounter the Christmas manger scene and have no idea what it means or how it’s attached to the holiday.  Can one take up one’s cross and eat it too, without having any idea of what the cross signifies?

Easter has become the holiday of spring. Get a new colorful outfit. Buy some pastel colored treats. Give a basket filled with toys and gifts. Gather with friends and family and eat ham or lamb. But, why? Does anyone ask why everyone is gathering on a Sunday in early spring, on a date that changes year after year?

Christmas has been given a whole other secular storyline. There’s Santa and the gift-giving that is entirely separate from the religious significance of the holiday. Though I am loathe to admit it, one can celebrate Christmas now without anything having to do with religion. I don’t like it, but my complaining isn’t going to change anything.

But, Easter. Really? I know my complaining isn’t going to gain much traction here either, but this really bothers me. There really is no secular reason for celebrating Easter. While Easter has adopted symbols over the years that are pagan in origin, the holiday is religious. It is Christian.

Please don’t make the Easter Bunny into Santa. Easter ought to get some respect. On Easter, we celebrate and ponder one of the great mysteries of our faith.   PLEASE, let us Christians keep this for ourselves. I don’t want to share it with everyone, watering it down so that it has its own separate, secular storyline.

If you aren’t going to church on Easter, please don’t celebrate it. Please don’t. If you are yearning for a celebration of spring, take the vernal equinox or Patriots Day (for those in Massachusetts and Maine) or maybe Cinco de Mayo. Or, use your imagination and come up with something else.

Leave Easter alone.   And let it be religious. Let it be Christian.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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