Brenda J. Verner is a nationally known media analyst on racial and women's issues, a former talk radio and cable television host and lecturer at scores of the nation's most prestigious universities. Describing herself as a life-long "Christmas" person, she wrote the books "Happy Birthday Jesus" and "101 Ways to Have a Christian Christmas," adopting the title of The Christian Christmas Lady. Her next book is entitled "101 Ways Christians Can ReclaimMore ↓Less ↑
The next major Christian holiday recognized by the overwhelming majority of Christians is Easter. The Western world celebrates Jesus, who came to earth in a miraculous virgin birth and dwelled among us only to offer himself up as the ultimate, spotless-blood sacrifice on the cross, in order that every man, woman and child might be saved from the damnation of his or her sins.
Easter is the High Holy Day that honors the only living God, who died and went to hell to take the keys of hell and death from Lucifer – the enemy of our souls – and rose from the dead on the third day.
Like Christmas, Easter has a 40-day advent (Lent), at least for Catholics. The Christian world enters into intense worship the six days prior Easter, with special emphasis on Good Friday. The proliferation of Passion plays and candlelight church services create a sense of Christ-consciousness that saturates our society and culminates in the sunrise services offered by most churches on Easter Sunday.
Western cultures have developed delightful Easter customs that add aesthetic beauty, anticipation and excitement to the celebrations of Christ’s Resurrection.
Pretty pastel spring flowers are associated with Easter. The exquisite iconic trumpet lily is also prominently featured in our parks, stores, churches and homes in honor of the special day.
Easter clothes are a critical part of the Easter Sunday celebration, especially for children. Shopping for clothes during the Lenten season builds excitement and anticipation for the children’s Easter parade. Seeing all the children in their Easter outfits march in to perform their Sunday school program is one of the more adorable aspects of many people’s Easter tradition.
Proud little boys dressed up in their cute little suits, and smiling little girls eager to be seen in their pretty, bouncy, pastel dresses, give us all great delight. Hearing their tiny voices recite resurrection Scriptures while some fidget in their places on the pulpit touches our hearts.
Women in stylish Easter bonnets that match their lovely outfits have become a common sight on Easter morn. High fashion rivaling any couture house is on display in thousands of churches all across America on this special Sunday.
Families and friends traditionally expect to gather together after church activities for their annual Easter meal. Easter egg hunts and Easter baskets filled with jelly beans, chocolates and those yellow marshmallow chicks are as traditional as the Easter ham in many of this nation’s households. Picture taking of people around the family Easter table is also a tradition that captures the moments of this Christian ritual for future generations.
For some of us viewing grainy old home movies featuring family members when they were younger on their way to church, or with their Easter baskets, is a part of being together on Easter. Images of past Easters, gives us a sense of nostalgia and fosters a clearer picture of our contemporary place in family and cultural history.
Easter under fire
Despite the fact that Americans continue to carry on their family and church rituals, all is not well with our public square presentation of Easter. Over the past 25 years, Easter seems to have lost its excitement and flourish in the public square. The deeply spiritual nature of the occasion has been expunged from public sight and has been replaced by bunnies and elaborately decorated eggs.
Once common decals, stickers and children’s books depicting cute lambs with lilies that were inscribed with “Lamb of God,” or crosses with lilies that said, “He Is Risen!” can no longer be found in department and variety stores. We no longer hear the Easter Sunday church bells ringing to hail His resurrection. Easter parades have disappeared.
These things are some of the building blocks that fortify our Christian culture and should not be neglected.
Currently, all things Christian are coming under relentless assault by organized secularists. It would behoove committed followers of Christ to act to reinforce the Christian nature of our society by raising the profile of all Christian rituals in the public square.
Believers need to create a demand for Christian graphics at Easter time. Our children should have visual images that make them aware of the profoundly spiritual nature of Easter and how critical the resurrection is to their personal lives.
With encouragement from parishioners, churches across the nation can revive the tradition of ringing church bells. This Easter, the sound of bells in honor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should be heard throughout the land.
Surely, Christians would enjoy the return of Easter Parades. Imagine local parades made up of theme floats from churches, ministries and community organizations accompanied by marching bands, being watched by citizens of all denominations dressed in their Easter finery!
I encourage everyone that would like to see an Easter Parade in their town to form a committee and apply for a parade permit. It is a festive tradition that is well worth reinstituting.
America’s Christian heritage can only be preserved by practicing Christians who exercise their Christian cultural authority. When we come together in our towns and neighborhoods to affirm our faith, it unites us as a people and validates us as a nation.