Bunnies at the Tomb


That’s no ordinary rabbit! That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!
—The Wizard Tim, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Santa Claus I can deal with. The Easter Bunny drives me nuts, though.

At least with Santa you can trace him back to an old Christian saint. The Bunny, however, exists solely as a fertility symbol that has been traced back to the murky, disputed goddess Eostre and pagan celebrations of springtime among Germanic peoples.

It’s possible to play down Santa Claus for Christmas. But the eggs, chicks, and bunnies are everywhere.

Last weekend, my son won a game at the YMCA that was manufactured by a historically conservative Christian publishing house. easter_bunny.jpgThe game talked explicitly about the Resurrection, but it married Easter eggs, chicks, and bunnies to that story so intimately that it was impossible to extricate the two. In the end, it came down to battling messages, Jesus’ gory and brutal, with the bunnies’ all warm and cuddly.

Though I had an Easter basket as a child and participated in more than my fair share of egg hunts, I didn’t become a druid. I don’t go on a yearly pilgrimage to Stonehenge.

Still, it bothers me that it is so hard to cut through the competing messages to find what is real. My own son seemed to get plenty geared up for egg hunts and bunny-related ideology, but the resurrection didn’t garner the same enthusiasm.

“Our triumphant holy day” is how my favorite Paschal hymn labels it. That the highest holy day in Christianity must compete with foggy imagery from a forgotten diety of questionable origin bugs me to no end.

Unlike some other nations where a dictator makes proclamations that determine practice, Americans watch what is best and brightest in our culture and body politic erode through the constant dripping of one watery drop of concession after another. In time, the end result is a canyon. Our reaction? “Wow, now where did that come from?”

Maybe I’m just an excessive, joyless crank, but when you see the end result, when it becomes impossible to separate the resurrection of Christ from bunnies and chicks, it’s hard not to think that the goddess and her barnyard have won the war in the hearts of too many people.

Our Triumphant Holy Week


Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Many of our children don’t know this hymn and that breaks my heart. Growing up in the Lutheran Church, we sang “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” almost every Easter. Peter Paul Rubens - The Resurrection of ChristI used to love the ascending melody in the third line of each stanza. Our organist would pull out all the stops and my heart would thrill.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that the sign of the Church wasn’t the cross, but the empty tomb. Though he readily acknowledged the difficulty of rendering an empty tomb in jewelry.

Maybe that’s for the better, for as much as the symbol of the cross has been co-opted by pot-smoking, women-abusing, hip-hop artists; bed-hopping, clueless, Hollywood celebrities; Christians in name only who never got to the real cross; and the the inane, shallow world-at-large, no one’s done a good job transforming an empty tomb into bling.

And that’s good for us, because an empty tomb that defies secularization can still say, “He’s not there.” In fact, about the only place we can say the Lord is not is in that chamber of death. He’s risen. He’s risen indeed.

More so than Christmas, we Christians should find a way to turn the celebration of Christ’s resurrection into the party of all parties. We are people most pitied, Paul wrote, if Christ did not rise from the grave. But because He did, we’ve been granted an immeasurable gift. How can we not pull out all the stops on the organ? How can we not join up with friends and family and laugh, play, run, jump, and dance till we can barely catch our next breath? This is our day, the precursor of that final day. Our earthly celebration should resemble the one that is to come.

We somehow manage to take a week off for Christmas if we can, why not do the same for celebrating resurrection? They celebrated a wedding for seven days as we know from Jesus’ first miracle. Christ’s resurrection made us His Bride. So why not live up Easter for a week afterwards?

Instead, we’ll dress up nice for Sunday 9 AM and by 9 PM we’ll be dreading another week of work. We talk and talk about countercultural living, but when it comes to our high holy day, it’s twelve hours then back to the grind.

How I wish we would learn how to live! How awesome would it be to not let the world dictate how we celebrate our faith. I think the greatest impediment to revival in this country is our slavish devotion to systems rather than to Christ. The Holy Spirit could bust out and do miracles and we wouldn’t be able to tarry even a day because some system tells us we have such and such we MUST do. We’re important people. The world would stop if we did.

Bah, humbug!

Don’t you want to see our triumphant Holy Day go on and on?

{Image: Peter Paul Rubens – The Resurrection of Christ, 1612}