EASTER is the most important celebration in the Christian calendar, for it commemorates the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If the resurrection did not occur then there would be no Christianity.
The basic story of the resurrection is well known, but it could always bear repetition: Lord Jesus was born in a poor carpenter’s family and as he reached his late 20s he began to teach an ethic which was different from that which obtained in his home country of Palestine. The ethic which he taught very much resembled that which Lord Buddha had taught many centuries before and several historians have surmised that the 15 years of his life which were unaccounted for in the Scriptures were spent in a Buddhist country, where he imbibed the Buddhist teachings and ethic. The ethic which prevailed in Palestine and the Middle East, in general, could be encapsulated in the phrase, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” while Jesus’ teaching was “If anyone slapped you on one cheek, turn the other.” Jesus’ teaching was therefore strange and revolutionary.
Lord Jesus’ birth was miraculous in that he was born from the Virgin Mary and was recognised as the “Son of God” by his family and even by people in faraway lands such as the Magi who came to visit him at his birth and pay worship to him. The concept of God reincarnating Himself, that is, assuming human form, was well-known and accepted in Eastern religions such as Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism. In Hinduism, the incarnation of God is known as an ‘Avatar’ or ‘Outar’ and Lord Krishna is the most well-known Outar in Guyana.
Lord Jesus’ teaching was therefore subversive to the status quo and the Jewish Establishment which controlled Palestinian society at the time felt that Jesus should be silenced. Trumped-up charges were made against him and he was brought to trial before the Roman governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate. Pilate could find no fault with Jesus, but the Jewish Establishment could engender widespread disorder and Pilate was constrained to condemn Jesus and ordered that he be crucified. He was made to drag his heavy cross to the execution grounds where he was crucified on Friday. This day came to be known as ‘Good Friday’ or ‘God’s Friday’.
After several hours when he had died, his family took his body down from the cross and buried it in the family vault and for Saturday his family and Christian believers agonisingly awaited his resurrection. On Sunday morning they found the large stone blocking the entrance of the vault had been removed and Jesus had gone. He was seen walking about and many, such as the disciple Thomas could not believe their eyes; Jesus had to tell Thomas to place his finger in his wounds to convince him that it was with Jesus he was speaking. The resurrection had occurred on Sunday as had been prophesied and this day was celebrated as aster.
There are many persons, especially from the peripheral churches, who posit that since Easter is named after the Anglo- Saxon goddess of Spring, Eostre, Easter is a pagan festival and has no relationship to Christianity. This nonsensical position is easily demolished by pointing out that in the Mediterranean countries they use the word derived from the Hebrew word for Passover for Easter; in French, for instance, it is ‘Pascal’ and the celebration of the holy day is much the same throughout the Christian world. Another point that shows the absurdity of those who claim Easter is a pagan festival is that in the English language, the days of the week are named after Teutonic deities such as Wednesday being Woden’s day or Thursday being Thor’s day; it is foolish to think that English-speakers worship Woden on Wednesday or Thor on Thursday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the traditional ways Easter and the Easter season had been celebrated. The Stations of the Cross Service or the Midnight mass on Holy Saturday and other church services take place virtually or not at all. The traditional dinners or lunches for family and friends and the children’s fun of searching for Easter eggs and rabbits on Easter Monday morning have fallen into abeyance and above all, the Easter Monday kite-flying and all-day picnicking have become extremely restrained. All are however confident that when the COVID-19 pandemic would have passed away, Easter would re-emerge in all its glory.