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Reflections on Easter

I went to church Easter Sunday, for about the first time in a month. My family goes to church regularly, but between a snowstorm, illness, a migraine and a visiting friend it had been awhile.

I'm always shocked at the number of people who show up on Easter and Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they do, but many will go home on Sunday and won't be back until December.

My Easter Sunday started like most other families with small children. It's the only day of the year where my kids are allowed to eat chocolate before breakfast. I think everyone should have one day a year were chocolate becomes a mainstay of their diet, maybe two if we include Halloween.

We do the baskets, the bunnies and the eggs like most families.

But I'm actually a little ashamed of myself this year. I got caught up in the hype, perhaps because of the ages of my children; they will be five next month.

Every year you hear Christians banding together around Christmas time encouraging us not to become overwhelmed with gift giving and gift receiving, and remember the "reason for the season". They want us to celebrate Christ's birthday. My mother-in-law actually makes a birthday cake that says "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" We all sang happy birthday, then the little kids blew out the candles. Thank goodness she doesn't go overboard and require that we put 2006 candles on the cake.

Christmas is a wonderful time. And I believe that you can give the gifts, get excited about ripping open packages, and anticipate Santa Claus' arrival without losing focus on the religious significance of the celebration.

Easter is a completely different story, however. Frankly, Easter should be the most important holiday for Christians. Christmas is fun, and the birth of Jesus is a feel-good story. Everyone loves babies, and animals, and most people even like shepherds. Throw in a couple angels, some wise men, and an excuse to say the word "ass" in church, and it's even more fun.

But Easter is more important. We are Christians because Jesus was born, we are Christians because Jesus died and was resurrected. Had the resurrection not occurred, Jesus would be forever known as a teacher and profit, not as a messiah. Today we would be Jews, Muslims or maybe Druids. Without the resurrection, there would be no Easter, Christmas or Christianity.

I think Christians should start banding together around Easter. Some do, but they aren't as diligent. I don't think the story is as much fun. It's filled with prophecy, violence and death, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in. Frankly it sounds more like a Stephen King book or Quentin Tarantino movie than something you want to tell your children before bed.

The story of Easter is important. Pagan symbols of fertility, eggs and bunnies shouldn't be part of Easter today. They are more comfortable, and prettier, then a bloodied cross, but they aren't "the reason for the season".

I'm not going to kill the Easter Bunny with a shotgun, but next year, I'm going to dedicate myself to focusing more on true symbols of Easter, particularly when it comes to my children.

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