Renewal, that was the theme of the Sunday service, held at the Presbyterian church on Queen street, this past Sunday. We attended because our daughter Natasha Green was asked to play piano for the accompanying worship time.
It was an up lifting thought to ponder... Renewal, resurgence, revival, all words that carry the reminder that the process of Life is never dissuaded by times of cold or the harshness's in life, not ultimately. Metaphorically it goes further than our outward physical lives and surroundings. This time of year we celebrate in our culture this victory in its ultimate manner, via the Resurrection of Christ.
Celebrated most often under the reference of “Easter”, Resurrection Day is another one of the cultural things we “do” throughout Canada and much of the world, but in many circles, outside the church, it's misunderstood. Yet people all over commemorate a day well worth investigating further.
If we travel backward through the tunnels of time, we find the word Easter comes from a Saxon word “Eostre”. It's easy to see the word “East” in it. The Saxons, came from a Germanic offshoot of the Vikings, the Jutes, amoungst many other, like the Frisians, Angles, and Normans they worshiped their common goddess of dawn and light.
There were many other dialectic versions of the word but they all carried the same association to the sun's light. The intense whiteness of the robes worn by ministering Christian priests, meant to illustrate the cleansing of our spiritual condition by Christ's personal sacrifice and subsequent resurrection, were brighter than anything these people had seen, and so were associated with the brightness of the sun. More importantly, this ultimate victory of life overcoming death through Christ, along with the internal intimacy of this triumph, was an association too strong for these viking tribes to deny, and so they embraced Christianity and named this day in their own tongues.
The Saxon word Eostre, the Norman (or Northman) Ostara, and the Angle Ostern word all found there way into the eventual English heritage, as these Scandinavian viking groups all conquered parts of England at different points. This is how it went, their equinox, around our beginning of spring, when sunlight began lasting longer than darkness, carried with it their word “lent”, longer daytime, breaking the earth's fast of winter for 'sprig' or 'springing of life'. This made it easier to invoke the idea of the Resurrection in Christianity, by retaining these basic concepts.
This week of Lent is one of Christian fasting, of inner challenge to embrace new healthy ways. You've heard the phrase, “I'm giving up for Lent.” It's often used in humour, from naïveté, but Lent is when someone gives up something they would normally not and offers that to God. Often this translates to people bringing 'White-wrapped' food or other needful items, to the church, as part of a collection for those in need.
Easter occurs connected with Passover, the day the Jews celebrate their protection from the spirit of death, passing over their first born, while it destroyed the first born of their Egyptian captors. Usually the Sunday after Passover is Easter, but sometimes when the Jewish Lunar calendar shifts things it is celebrated the Sunday before Passover.
On this day we celebrate Christ rising over spiritual death, setting us free from its ultimate affect, previously permitted through the streak of inherited sin coming from Adam and Eve. The very reason why we sometimes are compelled to act as our own worst enemy. This breaking of the bonds of death, is forever good news, for those who have realized it's application!
Being that our Canadian culture is basically made up of all these groups, and others that came from them, and that the spread of this viking reference followed Christianity into many European and subsequent cultures, which we are also part of, it comes as no surprise that we refer to Resurrection Day as Easter.
Now about the rabbit and the egg... well, maybe next time. Happy Resurrection Day, or how you say... HAPPY EASTER.