Easter is a sacred and deeply meaningful time for Christians. In the weeks leading up to Easter, we reflect on the profound sacrifice of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, we get to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the incredible love of God. (more…)
Is all the extravagance surrounding Easter a distraction, or are Christians right to give it the special attention they do?
Let’s avoid the culture wars of the Easter Bunny, Cadbury eggs, and egg hunts, and simply speak to what happens in most churches on the morning of Easter Sunday: we go all out.
Going all out for Easter
The music is typically a notch or two more elaborate than normal. The sermon is noticeably more refined and passionate. And everyone seems to dress in their very best Sunday best.
Many churches even decorate specifically for Easter Sunday. The church I attended in college used decorations to heighten the contrast between Good Friday and Easter. In the Good Friday service, red roses with thorns lined the aisles to communicate suffering. On Sunday, white lilies replaced the roses to communicate resurrection. It was a beautiful, artistic way to remind us that in the Christian faith, life comes through death.
Churches seem to love pulling out all the stops for Easter, but is all the pomp justified, biblically?
Why is Easter special?
The apostle Paul says of the resurrection, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14 NIV). Without the resurrection, there is no Christian faith.
A few verses later, Paul declares how all of history pivots on the resurrection:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:20–24 NIV)
It is only because of the resurrection that anyone can move from corruption to restoration—only by Jesus’ work is Adam’s undone and a new creation secured.
Easter is the day we set aside to celebrate this truth. It is a day we dedicate solely to the central tenet of our faith: Christ is risen. (He is risen, indeed!)
As such, a certain amount of pomp is more than justified—it is encouraged.
Let the bright pastels, the pressed suits, the church choir, the full band, the near-perfect sermon, and the however-else-you-mark-it-special commence.
In the church I most recently called home, we recited the Apostles’ Creed weekly. But on Resurrection Sunday, we added a twist:
On the third day, he rose again
On the third day
—the third day—
On the third day, he rose again
If you have a hand in putting together Easter Sunday at your church, have it at. Add your twist. You still have a couple days to prepare elements that draw unique attention to the reason for our faith.
One easy way to do this is with free, beautiful Easter media (such as the image featured in this blog). Get a free bundle of 600+ pieces of Good Friday- and Easter-themed church graphics. Start a no-risk, 30-day free trial of Faithlife Proclaim to get your bundle (no credit card required). Get the bundle free now.
This post originally appeared on the Faithlife Proclaim blog.
Observe Lent this year with 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers—a devotional prepared by the Lexham Press editorial team.
Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, reflection, and preparation for Easter. Traditionally, it runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter (excluding Sundays). And though it’s often associated with church traditions like Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism, Christians from a variety of backgrounds observe Lent with a mixture of fasting, reflection, and repentance.
It was with personal knowledge of the power in the Lent season that the Lexham Press editorial team set out to compile a 40-day devotional to guide you through it. The team that brought you Connect the Testaments, the Lexham Bible Guides, the Studies in Faithlife Living Collection, and the Faithlife Study Bible drew upon the works of great theologians like Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, and many others.
Each day contains a passage of Scripture to facilitate confession, a reading from the Gospels cataloging Christ’s journey to the cross, and a reflection from one of church history’s greatest scholars.
Personally, I’ve been celebrating Lent since 2011, when my home church made a point to observe all the major points on the church calendar. As a faith community, we celebrated together. In the weeks leading up to Lent, our pastor explained the traditional observance practices, unpacked their meanings, and challenged each man and woman to single out something from which we would abstain. He also challenged us to find something with which we’d like to fill the resulting void in our schedule. To punctuate our commitments, a member of the church who also happened to be a skilled carpenter crafted a pair of giant less-than and greater-than signs for the stage. At the close of the second service, each congregant was invited to leave their seat and write a single-word summary of our commitments on each sign. They remained on the stage throughout the Lenten season as a reminder. On Easter Sunday, dozens of resurrection lilies replaced them. Our season of preparation was over. Our celebration had begun.
It was a beautiful season that I will never forget. Our small commitments focused our attention on the work of Christ, and prepared my heart for one of the most meaningful and joyous Easter Sundays I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve had the privilege to preview this resource so that I could share it with you. I sense the same spirit in it that motivated me to rise from my seat and write a commitment on a wooden less-than sign. I was reminded how much more meaningful Easter has been since I started observing a season of preparation. It excites me to imagine that others will enjoy a similar experience thanks to this devotional.
We’ve discounted this new product by 25% until March 9 because we want more people to experience the power of Lenten preparation, prayer, and meditation. Get it now, and enjoy it each day until Easter.
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It probably felt funny standing on the Galilean hillside that spring after everything that had happened. The people were all familiar, but not quite the same. I imagine Peter looking over Jesus’ shoulder, expecting the Roman cavalry to crest the ridge any moment and break up their little gathering. John was just happy to be with Jesus once again, and he was determined to savor every moment. There were a few skeptics, even among the 11 remaining disciples, but everyone waited, anxious to hear what Jesus would say this time. He stretched out his arms, raised his voice, and issued a command:
“Go therefore and make disciples . . .” (Matthew 28:19)
After following Jesus for three years, hearing his teaching, and witnessing his miracles, the disciples were told to go recruit.
Were they surprised? Were they scared? These are the questions I wish Scripture answered more often. We don’t really know how those 11 men felt, but we do know how they acted. They obeyed. Their actions in the months and years that followed are recorded for us in another book of the Bible—”Acts” is short for “the Acts of the Apostles.”
While I may never get an answer to how it felt, if I read the passage in my Faithlife Study Bible app, I get extra details not otherwise available, like this picture of Mount Tabor, where Jesus probably spoke these last words of his earthly ministry.
These were the last words Jesus spoke to his followers on earth, and the Faithlife Study Bible helps us understand the context in which they were spoken. Download it free from your favorite app store, and you can start enjoying the extra details in this and many other passages.
As Easter approaches, Faithlife is offering a 14-day reading plan that follows the story of Christ’s resurrection. This year, you can learn more about Christ’s sacrifice—together. Join the 14 Days on Resurrection plan with your friends, church, or family, and grow closer to God during this time of reflection.
This reading plan is designed to guide Bible-study groups, worship teams, families, and individuals through the power of the Resurrection. Each day, the digital reading plan will notify you with what to read. If you happen to miss a day, the plan will catch you up!
The 14 Days on Resurrection plan gives you a different approach to reading in community. You can share questions with your group at any time, and with the Faithlife app, take your group Bible study anywhere.
How do I start a group?
Faithlife makes group Bible study easy and interactive. Just join or create a group by logging in to Faithlife.com. You can invite your friends, your family, or anyone from church to become members of your group.
To start a Resurrection reading plan, go to your group Faithlife page and add the “14 Days on Resurrection” reading plan. Members can connect to your plan and start diving into the Word for the next 14 days. While everyone reads together, you can share prayer requests and notes with the Community Notes feature.
Ready to join? Sign in with your Logos credentials, or sign up for a free account today!