Brightly colored eggs were strewn all over Roosevelt Park this past Saturday, April 20, morning. A balloon artist, bouncy obstacles, face painting, a puppet show and a craft table of bracelets made with Cheerios were all part of the White Fields Community Church’s Easter Egg Hunt and Festival. (WFCC) Head Pastor Nick Cady of WFCC…
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)
Yesterday, as people around the world gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, terrorists attacked three churches in Sri Lanka, killing nearly 300 and injuring over 500. [source]
The irony of the situation is profound: The goal of terrorism is to incite fear by taking lives, but they carried out their attacks on the day when Christians revel in the fact that we can live without fear because of the hope that we have in eternal life.
What Jesus’ resurrection means for Christians, is that not only did Jesus die to forgive our sins, but he rose from the grave to conquer over death forever, so that we can have eternal life.
1 Corinthians 15 tells us that Jesus is the “first fruits” of those who are going to be resurrected to eternal life, and because that is true, death has lost its sting! Death will not have the final word.
As a result of this great truth, we who have this hope of eternal lives are free to live without fear. We are free to be courageous and generous, because we have nothing to lose – and the greatest gain is already ours!
Paul the Apostle put it this way: “If the dead are not raised, then we should just eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32) The idea is that, if this life is all we’ve got, then it would make sense for us to be selfish and short-sighted with the time we’ve got, since this is all we have. However, if Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, and we will too – then “to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21)
If you have the hope of eternal life, then this life isn’t as good as it will ever get for you, rather, this life is as bad as it will ever be for you. If you know that you’ve got a thousand, million, billion years ahead of you, in which you will experience joy, security, adventure and love, then you are truly free to use the little window of time you’ve got here on Earth in the service of others, and in the service of God.
If you have the hope of eternal life, you are free to love sacrificially, and to give without holding back!
In other words: Jesus’ resurrection makes us brave, because it gives us hope.
Jesus’ disciples who saw him after his resurrection were so transformed by it, that they went from being timid and fearful to being bold, to the point where they came out of hiding and publicly proclaimed their faith, unwaveringly – even in the face of violence towards them and their families. As Paul says in Acts 13:31, they became “witnesses to the people”; rather than fearing for their lives, they boldly carried out a mission.
Our hearts break, and our prayers go out for those who are suffering from injuries, as well as for the families who were affected by this horrible act of violence. Our hearts ache as we look around and see the brokenness in the world, manifesting itself in hatred and violence. But as Christians, we must refuse to live in fear.
Instead, we set our hearts and minds all the more on the fact that we are pilgrims in this world, and our purpose here is not comfort or security. The time for comfort and security will come – fully and forever! But our time here on Earth is to be dedicated to courageously doing the will of God and carrying out His mission in the world, to bring to others the love of God and the good news of Jesus: the light of the world, who conquered death, and through whom we can have eternal life.
In this latest installment of the Longmont Pastor Video Blog, Mike and I discuss the origin of Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny.
Many Christians are under the impression that Easter eggs and the Easter bunny – and even the word Easter itself are pagan in origin. Is that true? Where do these practices come from, and is it bad for Christians to participate in them?
We answer these questions in this video:
For more on this topic, check out: Does Easter Come From Ishtar?
If you are in the Longmont area, we invite you to celebrate with us on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 8:45 or 10:30 AM at White Fields Community Church.
The 8:45 service will be a family service with nursery available – and the 10:30 service will have a full children’s ministry.
We’d love to have you join us!
Easter Egg Hunt & Festival
White Fields Church is excited to host our 9th annual Easter Egg Hunt & Festival on Saturday, April 20th in Longmont’s Roosevelt Park, in partnership with Longmont Recreation.
This event has grown over the years to become the largest event of its kind in Boulder County and we hope it will become a true Longmont tradition.
The event starts at 10:00 AM, and will include an egg hunt as well as a puppet show, inflatable obstacle courses and bounce houses, face painting and a craft station.
We will have a coffee truck on-site making craft coffee drinks, as well as our friends from GraceFM who will be handing out t-shirts and other swag for free.
It’s fun for the whole family and we hope you will join us!
We also invite you to join us on Easter Sunday at White Fields Community Church to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, the reason we can have hope!
We will have two services on Easter Sunday, at 8:45 & 10:30 AM.
There will be a nursery (birth-2 years) and a wiggle room available at the 8:45 service, and full children’s ministry available at the 10:00 service (birth-middle school).
Join us, and invite a friend or family member to join you, as this is one of the occasions when many people who don’t regularly attend church say that they would attend if invited by a friend or family member. Don’t miss that opportunity!
We all know that the best place to get information on history is from Facebook memes, right?
One popular meme which I saw floating around this year as we approached Easter was this one, which claims that Easter comes from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and that the practices of Easter are all pagan in origin.
There is so much about this that is blatantly incorrect. Let’s break it down:
Is Ishtar pronounced Easter?
Nope. Ishtar is pronounced… (wait for it)… ISH-TAR. Just like it’s spelled.
Was Ishtar the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex?
Yes. Kind of. Ishtar was an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of war, fertility, and sex. She is featured in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the “Ishtar Gate” was part of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. Her worship involved animal sacrifices; objects made of her sacred stone, lapis lazuli; and temple prostitution.
Were Ishtar’s symbols the egg and the bunny?
No. Her symbols were the lion and the eight-pointed star. This one’s a blatant lie.
Was Easter originally a pagan holiday which was changed after Constantine to represent Jesus?
No. The date of Jesus’ death and resurrection are clearly recorded in the gospels. Christians have known and celebrated Jesus’ resurrection since the earliest days. We are told in the New Testament that Christians immediately after Jesus’ ascension began gathering weekly on Sunday to remember and celebrate the resurrection, and we know from ancient Christian documents dating to the early 2nd Century (200 years before Constantine) that Christians celebrated what we call “Easter”, i.e. Jesus’ resurrection annually on the anniversary of the event.
For more on the date of Jesus’ death and resurrection, read: Was Jesus in the Grave Three Days and Three Nights? Here’s How it Adds Up.
Where does the word Easter come from?
The word Easter does not come from Ishtar. There are two main theories about where the word comes from.
Theory #1: Eostre
Some say it comes from the Germanic goddess Eostre. However, there are major problems with this theory, since there is no real evidence that anyone ever worshiped a goddess named Eostre— no shrines dedicated to Eostre, no altars of hers, and no ancient documents mentioning her.
Theory #2: Eostarum
More likely is that the word Easter derives from the Latin phrase in albis, related to alba (“dawn” or “daybreak”). In Old High German, in albis became eostarum, which eventually became Ostern in modern German and Easter in English.
Other languages don’t use the word “Easter” at all
Most European languages use a form of the Latin and Greek word Pascha, which means “Passover.” French: Pâcques. Italian: Pasqua. Russian: Пасха.
Where do Easter eggs and the Easter bunny come from?
During Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter), Christians in the Middle Ages abstained from eating eggs. Eastern Christians (Orthodox and Coptic) still abstain to this day from eating eggs during lent. The tradition of hard-boiling eggs and painting them a few days before Easter developed as a result of people looking forward to the end of the fast from eggs. They would prepare them a few days before Easter and then consume them on Easter Day when they ended the Lenten fast. At some point people made a game out of hiding these colored eggs and sending their children to search for them.
As for the Easter bunny, we know that it is a tradition which the German immigrants to the United States brought with them in the 1700’s. They called it Osterhase, and it was said to “lay” the Easter eggs. It’s origin is not believed to be pagan, but rather… (wait for it)… “fun” (whatever that is!).
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Don’t fall for it.
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
Have you ever wondered why the date of Easter changes every year?
Have you ever wondered how it can be that Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights if he was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday?
How does the Jewish Passover Week correspond with Jesus’ final week leading up to his crucifixion?
Check out this video in which Mike and I discuss these questions! (Hint: Good Friday is indeed good, but it wasn’t a Friday…)
In this episode we discuss how White Fields began doing our Easter Egg Hunt outreach in Longmont which has grown over the years into a festival that draws thousands of people every year. We also address the question: “Why would a church put on an Easter Egg hunt?”
Help us spread the word by giving the video a like and sharing it on your social media or sending it directly to some friends. Follow us on YouTube or Vimeo and Soundcloud.
This week is Holy Week, the week during which we remember the final week of Jesus’ life on Earth leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.
Maundy Thursday is the day in the church calendar when we remember what we call “the Last Supper”, the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before he was crucified. For more on the “lesser known” days of Holy Week, read: “The Less Famous Days of Holy Week”
However, there are several aspects to these traditions that might be misleading.
First of all, Jesus’ Passover Dinner with his disciples would have been on Wednesday evening. According to Jewish thinking, this would have been Thursday, since in Jewish thinking the new day begins at sundown. Thus, what we consider to be Wednesday night would actually be considered Thursday by the Hebrews.
For more on the timing of Holy Week, read: “Was Jesus in the Grave Three Days and Three Nights? Here’s How It Adds Up”
But most importantly, what is misleading is the name “the last supper”. Consider what James K.A. Smith has to say on this topic:
when Jesus celebrates the Last Supper, he actually intimates that it’s not really the last supper, but the penultimate (second to last) supper.1
Smith is right. Think about what Jesus said during that supper:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29 ESV)
Paul the Apostle then says this about the practice of the Lord’s Supper by Christians:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26 ESV – emphasis mine)
In other words, the meal commonly referred to as “the last supper” was not ever meant to be thought of as the last supper that Jesus would have with his disciples, but as the preview of the great supper that they would one day share with Jesus in His Kingdom.
In other words, Communion, AKA the Lord’s Supper, AKA the Eucharist is an eschatological supper, through which we remind ourselves week in and week out of what is to come: the wedding feast of the lamb, in the New Jerusalem (Heaven).
Consider these words further thoughts from James K.A. Smith:
there’s a certain sense in which the celebration of the Lord’s Supper should be experienced as a kind of sanctified letdown. For every week that we celebrate the Eucharist is another week that the kingdom and its feast have not yet fully arrived.2
As you remember and reflect during Holy Week on Jesus’ penultimate supper, and every time you take communion, keep in mind that we do so both as an act of looking back and as an act of looking forward! Both are essential aspects of the hope that we have in Jesus!
Starting the Sunday after Easter, we will be doing a series at White Fields called “The Trouble Is…”, in which we will be talking about and addressing common questions and objections that people have about Christianity.
You can help me by taking a second to fill out this quick anonymous poll to let me know what are some of the biggest hurdles to faith that you have experienced yourself or encountered in other people. Thanks!
(email subscribers can click here to access the poll)