Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

March 30, 2013

Easter a time for hope, renewal, and the promise of a richly rewarding future

Recently, one of my favorite church bulletin boards proclaimed “Without Christmas, there would be no Easter.” No matter which “holiday” Christians revere — and they will be dedicated to both —the significance of the resurrection is at the very center of the faith being celebrated by millions around the world this week and certainly tomorrow.

Any minister will be quick to point out that the living leader is unique to the Christian faith and that alone is an incredible source of hope to the believers.

No less an “authority” than the History network notes that Easter can be termed a moveable feast because it falls on different calendar dates. Western Christian churches celebrate the day on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21.

There are versions of exactly how the time came to be known as Easter. For example, before the birth of Jesus, there were some Europeans who worshipped the so-called Goddess of Spring known as “Eostre" and these people believed that the sun died during the winter and was reborn in the spring.

They believed that the goddess was able to bring a new birth to the sun. Christians, of course, believe in a rising of the Son. Easter celebrates Jesus’  return on the third day after the crucifixion.

This weekend is the conclusion of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting. Many individuals also “give up” something during this time as a sign of penance.

The range of sacrifice during Lent may vary from giving up chocolate to favorite television shows to other (more) personal activities or events. The final week of Lent is known as Holy Week with perhaps the most famed date as Good Friday, celebrating the death and crucifixion. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper.

Following Easter Sunday, the next 50 days are often referred to as Easter Tide and will be concluded by the Sunday of Pentecost. This is in recognition of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles 50 days after the resurrection. Pentecost is held at the time of the old Jewish festival known as the “feast of weeks.”

Commercially the sale of cards, flowers, candy eggs, baskets and similar items has made Easter one of the significant calendar dates for businesses not only in America but around the world. For instance, the National Confectioners Association estimates that a whopping $14.6 billion will be spent in 2013 on Easter purchases. Nationally, every American is projected to spend about $145.28 during the holiday time. That includes food items, notable since families traditionally have a gathering and sumptuous meal on Easter Sunday.

Eggs are an integral part of the celebration for many and traditionally the eggs represent the empty tomb of Christ. Long a traditional symbol of fertility, the egg has been decorated for thousands of years in a variety of celebratory and festival settings. The deliverer, also known as the Easter bunny, is somewhat like Santa Claus in legend, a being to bring gifts to children.

There are legends and versions of legends in a score of ancient civilizations for scholars to discuss in this regard.

Easter also coincides with spring break for many schools and colleges, so travel is impacted. In the air, on the sea, and on the highways, travel is expected to be up this year. Generally, though, both airline and train travel are not as impacted by Easter as for some other major calendar events.

Many sections of the U.S. report that gasoline prices are as much as 25 cents per gallon lower than a year ago, and within the past six weeks, the price of a gallon of gas has gone down by an average of 17 cents on the East Coast, according to industry sources.

No matter one’s beliefs or depth of purse, the Easter season can surely be viewed as a time of hope, of renewal, and of looking forward. In Four Seasons Country, the hills will soon be alive with the sound of music from a thousand song birds. It is a gloriously promising season.

May you have a happy and blessed holiday.

 

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