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No Easter War?

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G.K. Chesterton is supposed to have commented that Christianity has not been tried and failed, but has been tried and found too difficult. I am not sure about that quote, but I do know that the historic Christian faith has been overwhelmed with a host of counterfeit versions which continue to make the rounds. There is a prosperity gospel that somehow claims that Jesus came to make those who believe rich. There is an American patriot's version, which seems to claim that God blesses America only. There is a version of personal piety that tells us to focus only on our inner spiritual experience and leave the social problems alone.

There are two great major mysteries in the Christian faith. There is the amazing story of the incarnation of God entering into human history as a human being. There is the second amazing affirmation that God has raised up Jesus from the dead. There is the Christmas story and there is the Easter story. These are both incredible, extraordinary, mysteries.

It is fascinating to watch and listen to people when the Christmas season comes. No sooner do the stores and businesses begin to market their wares for Christmas shopping than we begin to get the complaints about commercialization of Christmas. The slogan comes out "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." The great challenge of Santa Claus to Jesus is very real. Santa is much more awaited than the birth of the baby.

There are articles and essays concerned that there is now a "war against Christmas." The growing efforts in the public square to disengage the religious claims of Christmas from the public support. For a very long time, the Christian faith and the public square have been entwined. But now that there is a necessary and appropriate effort to place the Christian faith on an equal footing with Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and all other faiths in the public arena, Christians claim that that is a war on Christmas.

What I find very curious is that I have not seen any comments about a war on Easter. Certainly there is the economic push to make the Easter bunny more important than the Resurrection. The spring break at school make Easter a great travel time. The fashion industry talks about new clothes. The great Easter egg hunts are enjoyed all over the place.

There is just as many forces moving against the mystery of Easter as there are moving against the mystery of Christmas. Even Christian churches have a great problem, because so many of them end up talking about Easter as if it were one of the great pagan myths of the rebirth of spring. As if the Resurrection was the same as the annual return of spring. There are lots of old myths about the escape of fertility from the underworld for a few months. All the talk about new life of spring, new life in eggs, new life in butterflies is to corrupt the Easter resurrection with ancient myths.

Neither Christian mystery: The incarnation and the resurrection are logical, natural, organic to the history. They are affirmations of the invasion of love and power from outside of history. Now you may not want to believe them. But, like Chesterton said, we ought not to condemn the real mysteries of the Christian faith by looking at the distortions.