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What’s Wrong With Easter?

I have a complaint about how we celebrate this holiday.
By Barbara Rainey

Something feels a little uncomfortable about Easter to me.

For starters, it’s not about a sweet, soft, cuddly newborn baby—like Christmas. Babies are likeable. Our hearts are pulled to them, to their innocence and to their need for our care. The Christmas story is easy to love with the happy, healthy birth; the visitation of angels to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds; the star that moved and the wise men who brought gifts. All the elements of a grand epic are present, including miracles and a dramatic rescue from the dangerous Herod. What’s not to love about this feel-good story? 

But Easter is about a man who was executed, brutally and humiliatingly. It’s not pretty. Definitely R-rated for all the blood and gore and violence. Even though our culture flocks to R-rated movies, there’s an understanding that they are not real. But Jesus’ story did happen, and our sensibilities recoil from the harshness of that reality. And beyond the murder is the shocking statement Jesus made to His disciples before His death about drinking His blood and eating His flesh, by which He meant they would partake of His coming sacrifice. Frankly it can sound creepy. It’s quite a different image than the Nativity scene.

Something else about Easter feels wrong. It’s not an entirely happy story. Jesus lived a life of profound, inexplicable grief and sadness. To be completely rejected by everyone, to be purely innocent yet condemned to death is and always will be beyond comprehension. 

This is not to say Jesus did not have moments of joy and happiness during His years on earth. He did. But He came to His own—to the planet He made—and I imagine He felt deep loss every day at the broken state of all He created and loved. 

So how do we celebrate the Easter of death and sacrifice? With symbols that soften that harshness, like baby chicks, baby bunnies, and bright, happy, colored eggs. To be sure, Easter is about new life and all of these happy symbols represent that truth. It is no coincidence that Easter is a spring holiday when all of the earth is awakening from its winter slumber.

But, I wonder, shouldn’t there be more?

Christmas is essential, for it is the beginning.  But without Easter, Christmas would be worthless, forgotten not long after it had begun. And we would be living in perpetual winter, not unlike the land of Narnia under the spell of the white witch.

In many orthodox religions, Easter is more celebrated than Christmas, for truly it is the apex of the Christian faith. And I believe that is how it should be. 

Instead of viewing Easter as a holiday, which has come to mean only a vacation of sorts, we who believe should return to it being a holy day. For it is the holiness of Jesus that gives us new life, the resurrection we commemorate on Easter morning.

What I desire is the creation of a celebration that surpasses Christmas. Not with gifts and parties and elaborate decorations, but a genuine day of rejoicing, similar to a stadium full of enthusiastic people who are jumping up and down cheering because their team won.   

The truth is we have won in Christ! At Easter, we who believe celebrate a victory unlike any sports team; we rejoice over the unspeakable deliverance given to us by Christ when He conquered sin and set us free. We, too, were dead and now are alive! That victory deserves an extravagant, jubilant celebration.

My favorite hymn says, “My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!” Many times, when singing those lines, I’ve wanted to jump up and down and cheer as I would at a football game. 

Too bad that isn’t normal Easter protocol.


Copyright © 2011 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared on MomLife Today®, FamilyLife's blog for moms. 

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family. 

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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