The Phoniness of Easter

by Donald Jordan

“Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!” With that joyous acclamation to one another and to the world, one would think that Easter and the resurrection of Christ from the dead would not only be a joyous day but an exuberant time as well.  In reality, however, Easter seems to be almost anticlimactic in our churches and lives. 

For 40 days during Lent, there is an intensity like no other season. We pray, fast, meditate and exert ourselves with mid-week services, Holy Week services, Easter preparations, Easter services, Easter dinners and all the social aspects of egg hunts, baskets, hats, special clothing, family get-togethers and  extra duties that seem to come crashing down upon us in the  “finish line” of Easter.

Parishioners even question their pastors, “Aren’t you glad Easter is here so you can finally relax some?”  They realize that the rigors of Lent and Holy Week mean extra work.

There is even an element of phoniness in our churches at Easter (and Christmas). Attendance at Easter services is dramatically high. People are dressed in their finest. Most everyone seems rather chipper. A breakfast might be served. Trumpets are blaring. Everything is celebratory.  While none of these components is bad, it does strike us that some of this could be a passing fabrication, that coming to church on this special Sunday is based on the culture and may not be genuine.

This certainly is evident in the Sunday after Easter as church attendance dips back to normal or even below normal.  Gone is the excitement and fervor of Easter.  Life returns to normalcy in the Church and world. The flowers fade, and the lilies begin to wilt.  In a sense, there is a letdown that begins with and continues after Easter.

Yet, this is certainly not the way of Scripture and the liturgical year. The Scriptures tell us that Christ, the risen Lord, made His appearances to His disciples and the Church, bringing them the joy and peace of the Gospel in His life, death and resurrection.  When they were sad and forlorn, He came to them bodily, instilling in them a confident faith.  He spoke to them, charging the apostles with the task of administering the Office of the Keys as they preached the Gospel and administered the Sacraments to a dying world. As they did, the Church grew and became emboldened in the proclamation of the Gospel to the whole world. 

Easter made a difference in the disciples’ lives. It was not a letdown to them. Instead, it was the springboard for a real life in Christ that is lived each day in the power of His resurrection.

Easter is not a letdown. Christ is risen.  We are raised to new life in Baptism each day.  The celebration continues for 40 days until the Ascension of our Lord and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.  So, come Easter, let the rejoicing begin.

The Rev. Donald Jordan is pastor of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Chico, Calif.

**This article was first published in the print The Lutheran Witness

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The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
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contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

9 Responses to The Phoniness of Easter

  1. Nancy April 17, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    In my view Easter should be a celebration every day. Christ did not die and rise up again to save us during a season. We have been saved all the days of our lives as believers. And I don’t think it right to say our special celebration once a year is phoney. If just one of those family members who perhaps has lost their faith comes back to the church as a result of hearing the special Easter sermon that day, isn’t it worth a celebration? People must hear the good news in order to learn of salvation and if it takes a few “phoney” celebrations to get them inside the church doors then so be it.

    • Dallas D. April 17, 2017 at 11:17 am #

      Thanks Pr. Don….

    • Amie S. Behlen April 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

      Hi Nancy
      Greetings in Christ. I understand what your view of Christian living should not be a season event celebration. But what Pastor trying to share or going is about the general attitude and normalcy even with Christian sadly became a season celebration event that can be describe as phoniness.
      Yes I agree with that it is an opportunity that this events of the year will somehow may awaken their timid and weaken faith because of the world pressure and demands.
      Yet God is faithful and maybe he the Pastor is encouraging those ones who had gone away from the body of Christ to long must look upon themselves and be concern. Not allowing the phoniness of life cycle they are thriving. Rather they are correctly showed how the first Easter event happened with jubilance among the believers who saw and witness the Resurrected Christ. Those brethren who are weak and timid should realize Christ is risen Indeed even now! And may they continue to move and faithful with their faith in our Risen Lord Savior, Jesus Christ!
      In Christ
      Amie S. Behlen

    • Salina April 28, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

      I hear what you’re are saying. I used to be one of those people who complained about the C&E (Christmas and Easter) members, but then I had a different perspective when someone told me that you never know when one of those C&E people will start coming back. Now I have joy in my heart when I see a person who doesn’t come often but they show up for Christmas or Easter. Only God knows our hearts. 🙂

  2. April 17, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    I think Easter is a wonderful time of rejoicing in our Salvation. I do think there is a bit too much pressure on our clergy and staff, church workers, etc. to overwork during this season. Such a production of special services, musical presentations, Lenten meals, etc. Is enjoyed by many and works every producer to the limit. One of our clergy wives ( God bless each and everyone of them) stayed up until 4AM baking dogwood blossom shaped and beautifully frosted cookies for services- one for each attendee! How much is enough?

  3. Fred Lingenfelder April 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    There was no “phoniness” in our congregation’s Resurrection Day observance. Those who attended included some inactive members who our pastor and elders had contacted over the past few months, several visitors and non members, including an unchurched caretaker of a 90 year old member. What a joy! The early morning service included a sermon with much to ponder for each person in attendance, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and a liturgically rich order of service.

    I am looking forward to the resumption of midweek Bible study, and worship on “low” Sunday.

    The problem of “phoniness” Pastor Jordan discusses may result from some distressing problems I have observed in visiting LCMS churches in his district over the last 40 years.

  4. Jay E April 17, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    Every Sunday is a little Easter!

  5. Debbie Allen April 18, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    Thank you Pastor for an enlightening article. As a Sunday school teacher I look forward to this time, sharing the encouragement and love Christ showed to his disciples. As a mom, I given a reminder from my daughter. She was sick this weekend so we were unable to attend our Easter service. She said, “Mommy​, remember we celebrate Easter all year.” ❤

  6. Timothy Carter April 20, 2017 at 6:06 am #

    Pastor Jordan wrote “We are raised to new life in Baptism each day.”
    Luther said “Remember your Baptism Daily”
    Excellent ways to remember Easter every day.

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