Since we’ve moved here, we have yet to find a church. Quite honestly, there has been little hunt for one, all of the reasons for that I won’t go into now. Every Easter though, I’ve been very tempted to go to the sunrise service at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Red Rocks is a natural amphitheater that is now used, primarily, to host concerts. It’s amazing and beautiful and how cool would a sunrise service be there?! The problem is, it’s at sunrise and it’s a popular event so one would have to arrive super, super early to insure a spot. I am not a morning person. At all.
This year my friend, Alicia, said that there was a sunrise service on Mt. Falcon. It piqued my interest… Mt. Falcon is closer and the service is not as well known… I could probably muster up the oomph to get out for this. I mean, how many people get to have an Easter sunrise service on top of a mountain?!
I agreed to go and then immediately began to regret the commitment. I just really hate mornings.
“I just don’t understand the sunrise service thing,” I complained to Man. “I don’t think Jesus is even up that early.”
“Michal!” he said, rather surprised at my blasphemy. (I guess)
“What? I mean, really, why do they always have Easter sunrise services?”
“Because that’s when he rose again. Remember, the women came in the morning and found the tomb empty.”
“Yeah. The WOMEN were there early in the morning. Jesus clearly was not. That guy bolted in the night, I tell you. At sunrise, our Lord sleeps.”
However, the family agreed we would get up at 5-ish and hike a mountain for an actual Sermon on the Mount. I was in. I didn’t have to be happy about it.
As Easter approached, I was encountered several times with the same question. Why is the most holy day for Christians celebrated with pagan traditions? Also, why is it celebrated on Sunday if good Friday, the day we celebrate His death, is not three days after to coincide with the story of His resurrection?
“I don’t know boys,” I honestly answered Buddy and Bug when they asked about the Sunday celebration point. “Maybe it’s because that’s when most people go to church.”
I’ve heard that there are times when the Hebrews used “day and night” to mean only a portion of a solar day, not a full 24 hours. Sounds good but does it really matter WHEN we celebrate it? I’ve had the same complaint of Christmas. “Christ wasn’t actually born in December!” a Scrooge would grouse. To that I say, “So what.”
My friend’s Dad died a few years ago on April 14th. She remembers because a lot of friends kept asking her mom if he had sent in his taxes prior to passing. Just one less thing to have to worry about. This year on the 14th I went to check on my friend and she said, “I had it wrong. Dad died on the 15th.”
There was the briefest of pauses then we both guffawed as tears welled in our eyes and we said, “It doesn’t matter.”
It doesn’t matter because a loss is a loss. It’s felt daily. It doesn’t matter when we hold remembrance of the loss or, in the case of the resurrection, the win. As goes with Christmas. We don’t always celebrate a persons birthday on their exact birthday. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that time was taken to remember the event and to celebrate the person.
Ishtar. Say it three times fast and it starts to sound like….Easter. Ishtar was the goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols were symbols of fertility like…I don’t know…eggs, bunnies… This is so terribly shocking. Are we inadvertently celebrating a sex goddess? No. We’re not. I’m not, anyway. It does make our favorite Easter story all the better though:
Our friends sent their little boy over to their neighbors house with a special Easter gift and instructed him to shout “Happy Resurrection Day!” when he presented the gift. The boy knocked and the door was open. The neighbor howled with laughter when the little boy shouted “HAPPY ERECTION DAY!” It’s like he knew…
As a Christian I am celebrating the miracle and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. I believe God is about heart. Many, many years ago eggs and bunnies were for Ishtar. I don’t know how it changed and I don’t care. Our hearts hold our truth and my truth is in Christ.
My grandma loved her son-in-law, Art. Art one day mentioned moon pies. For whatever reason, Grandma got it in her head that Art loved moon pies. Every time she came upon them, she’d buy them for my uncle. If she need to say thank you, she’d buy them. To celebrate his birthday or something, she’d buy him moon pies. After she died I found out that Art does not like moon pies. Did it make Grandma’s gifts less meaningful? No. The heart of the gift and the gesture were still felt and appreciated. He just…didn’t ever eat the moon pies.
Saturday night I got up at 3 a.m. to put out Easter baskets and hide eggs. I shuffled back to bed somewhat bitter about the whole chore. Maybe I should just tell my kids who the real Eater bunny is. I could wear a sexy bunny outfit as I confess. I just want them to have good stuff to tell a therapist later. I went back to bed for a two hour nap and then up again to get ready for the sunrise service.
It was a quiet ride.
We picked up Alicia and her eldest son. We drove up the mountain and when we got to the trail head noticed a few cards parked but not many.
It was a quiet hike.
The boys carried chairs and I carried a bag of blankets. Alicia talked with my Man and the boys ran ahead of us and I marched on in silence wondering where all the people were. Where were the other church goers? Did Alicia have this all wrong? Was there no service?
Did I come out here for NOTHING?! Enjoy the beauty of a sunrise hike. Pfft. Shut up, you.
Bug complained about carrying the folding chair. I adjusted the way he was carrying it and told him to remember how Christ had to walk a long way as well and that was after being beaten and while carrying a cross.
“At least no one has beaten you…yet,” I whispered in his ear.
I’m so joking about that part! I should’ve though! Again, good therapy fodder.
We finally got to where there are ruins of an old building. Everyone calls it the castle but it’s actually an old stone house/mansion. We kind of assumed the service would be there but no one was there. While Alicia and My Man sort of walked about and wondered where the service may be, I took pictures of the sunrise. In the mean time, the children decided to set up camp. They wrapped themselves up in their blankets and sat in the chairs they had lugged up.
“Well, it looks like I got it wrong,” Alicia stated the obvious. She checked the website on her phone again to confirm that there was indeed supposed to be a service at Mt. Falcon. “Maybe it’s in a different part of the park.”
We talked about going to look for it but the boys made it clear that this was where they were staying. Then Buddy stood up from his chair and re-wrapped himself in his blanket. He faced us all and began a sermon:
“Friday was the day we remembered the death of Christ, known to us as Good Friday. We did not get Good Friday off from school, which is commonly known as Bull Crud,” he then went on to tell us of the crucifixion of Christ and the torture prior to it.
“The people wanted to kill Jesus. People had very little common sense back then and so they asked that the most murderous and villainous criminal of the time be released so that Jesus could be crucified instead. They beat Him. They blindfolded Him and slapped Him trying to make Him guess who hit Him…”
“I don’t remember that part of the story,” I whispered to Alicia.
“Me neither…apparently there were games played?” she giggled.
“…they mocked Him with a crown of thorns on His head. Some historians speculate that they just smashed a thorny bush on His head because, really, who’s going to take the time to fashion the thorns into a crown…” our unconventional pastor went on.
“That is a bit of my influence,” I explained to Alicia.
“He was nailed to a cross. Not tied with rope or duct tape but nailed. He died because, I mean really, who could survive all of that? Then there was a huge thunderstorm and an earthquake and then the people were like, Oh crud! Maybe this was the Son of God! He was placed in a tomb that was sealed with a large stone. They put guards at the tomb because they were afraid someone would steal His body because He claimed that He would rise on the third day. An angel came and put them to sleep…”
“Or maybe them just fell asleep because it was 3 in the morning,” Man speculated in whisper.
“…and the stone was rolled away. In the morning, some lady came or maybe two…and they saw that the tomb was empty. They thought His body had been stolen. They cried…obviously…and while they were crying a man appeared to them and asked them why they were crying. ‘Because someone stole Jesus’ body, they cried and He said, ‘no they didn’t because here He is.’ and they looked and saw that it was actually Jesus talking to them. They went and told the disciples who were hiding because….you know, they were wanted men and then Jesus appeared to them and they didn’t believe it either until they touched Him and then He went to heaven. And that is why we can be saved from the fires of hell.”
“And it’s why we get super yummy Peeps every Easter!” shouted Bug from under his blanket.
We all laughed and then Buddy lead us in a prayer thanking the Lord for the day, the sunrise and for His sacrifice.
Alicia put the cherry on top by playing a hymn for us off of her phone. It was this:
As we returned to the parking lot we saw others coming from a different trail.
“OH! The service must’ve been THAT way!” we all figured.
But we all agreed that our service was perfect. It was unconventional but it was lovely and it was from the heart.
Our actions have consequence and the consequence for sin is death. There is not one of us with out sin. No one teaches a child to lie. It’s something we’ve all done/do because, by nature, we are sinful. The devil didn’t make you do it. He doesn’t have to do a thing because we are sinners at the core. Not evil, but sinful. I personally believe there is a difference. The consequence for sin, for something we do by nature, is hard and harsh. Does not sound like something a loving and merciful God/Father would do. But He is merciful and loving and because He loves us He sent His son to us to teach us about love and to die in our place. But death has no hold on my God and Christ rose again and is alive and I celebrate that however I freakin want to.