An article I read recently in Christianity Today had this opening line:
“One of the advantages of my job is that I get paid to look up stuff I always wanted to know.”
If I might be allowed to express a sentiment not too dissimilar from that writer’s: One of the blessings of belonging to the small groups at Sligo Church to which I belong is that I am enriched by the stories fellow members tell about their life experiences; informed by the questions they ask; instructed and inspired by their spiritual insights; and nudged by a comment or observation to go look up stuff (research) for myself. A member’s comment may be about something I hadn’t before thought of or that I have been curious about but didn’t necessarily have a burden just then to pursue.
In a recent discussion on spirituality, a fellow member made a comment about something I have been curious about but had not pursued. She fondly recalled how spiritually meaningful for her the observance of Lent had been while she was growing up and into adulthood within the Methodist communion. The comment set off my own recollection of the Easter festival when I was growing up on a small Caribbean island in the 1950s and 60s.
My most piquant recollection from the celebration of Easter as a boy growing up in the “old country” was about food. Easter was that special time of year when we ate the Jamaican version of hot cross bun with New Zealand cheddar cheese. Time off from school for the Easter holiday was an added bonus.
It’s interesting now looking back that Easter didn’t then mean attending services at church, even though during Lent and Easter I rubbed shoulders in high school with observant friends who belonged to the Anglican, Catholic, and Methodist churches. Their preparation for Easter began with Lenten observance which started on Ash Wednesday; some of my school chums would come to school, after stopping at their church, with a spot of ash on their forehead.
Adventists in that and other places, then as now, for the most part don’t do Lent or Easter. So, nudged by my friend’s reminiscence I thought I would look for an answer to the question: why don’t we Adventist celebrate Easter? After all, it commemorates the most important of Christian religious festivals, the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord.
It’s a timely question, I’d venture to suggest. We are presently in the period of Lent in the Christian calendar preparing for the celebration of Easter later this month.
I have learned much from my search for an answer to the question, much of it new to me. Unfortunately, due to the limitation of space, and at the risk of over-simplification, I can only give a cryptic and altogether incomplete answer to the question. Adventists are believers in the resurrection of Christ. Some Adventist churches have introduced Easter observances out of a fear of being misunderstood. Happily, Sligo Church’s observation of Easter grows not out of fear but from a positive desire to witness to the efficacy of God’s amazing grace through Jesus Christ.