Easter Sunday

“Easter” comes from the pagan goddess Oestre, of Spring and therefore fertility and love. The French Pâques, from Latin Pascha, is in English as “paschal”, as in “Paschal candle” or “Paschal lamb”, making me think of sacrifice, but which in late Middle English referred to Passover or Easter. German for Easter is Ostern, close to our old English: Angles and Germans use our pagan roots, unlike the Romance languages closer to the core of the Roman Empire- though Swedish is påsk. Establishing freedom from Swedish rule in the 19th century, Norwegians consciously worked to differentiate their language from Swedish, but retain the word påske.

Can I do yoga as a Christian? Of course: just as we built churches on pagan holy sites, we “baptise” it: take its holiness and beauty for our use.

What is the Resurrection? If Jesus just comes to life again, does his sacrifice have any meaning?

Christ’s sacrifice is aimed at the wrath of man, not of God. Left to ourselves we seek to control, for all sorts of positive reasons, leading to fear, hostility to outsiders, and killing rebels. Jesus faces this with non-violent resistance. His sacrifice is our example, a practical rather than magical/spiritual event: by his non-resistance he draws the poison from the murder. As Isaiah foresaw:

I offered my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
    from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.

The shame is not in the treatment designed to shame, but in being broken by it.

And then- the Resurrection. Does that not nullify the sacrifice? It is almost bearable, if you know you will come to life again. No, it symbolises the transformative nature of the sacrifice. We can create a better world.

Quakers do not count any day holier than any other. This is a positive, not negative thing: it is not that Easter Sunday is no holier than any other day, but that no other day is any less holy. And yet it seems to me sometimes like a rebellion against the alternative view, rather than a transcending of it to something better. I see value in the rhythm of the Christian year: Advent then Christmas, Epiphany, Lent then Easter, Pentecost.

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