It’s Easter morning, and in many parts of the world children are looking everywhere they can think of for chocolate. Families get dressed for church, with many making an extra effort to look just a little bit more springlike before they head out the door. In a few hours they’ll be back home or will head to a relative’s house for a great meal amidst more chocolate and even more laughter. It’s a glorious day filled with all the happiness of a miraculous rebirth and joy and love.
It’s Easter morning, and in many parts of the world children are looking everywhere they can think of for food. Families are meeting to worship in secret or marching for freedom. Whether they celebrate Easter or not, many will go with little or no food and even less laughter. It’s a challenging day filled with the tears of constant struggle and not enough joy or love.
For those of us who are blessed with much, it’s easy to celebrate an Easter teeming with even more treats than we already had, but it’s also easy to forget that this is not a happy day — or even a happy life — for some people. It is very unlikely that even one of us cannot think of someone who is really struggling today. Whether it’s because of a broken relationship or poor health or financial challenges, some people we know will find little joy this Easter morning.
And of course then there are the millions of people worldwide we don’t know who deal with struggles we don’t comprehend. For those people and for the many dear souls who are out there trying to alleviate the sufferings, Easter must seem to be a very irrelevant celebration, enjoyed only by those who are sheltered in a happy little world that few ever find.
Ironically, Easter is actually most relevant to those who suffer. It tells the story of the rebirth of a man who was put to death for his beliefs and for coming to help others. It all happened during a time when many were being persecuted for their faith, and their struggles were great. Even today, while the media sees it most as a celebration by those who have much, the Easter story and Christianity itself are seeing substantially more growth in developing and underdeveloped countries than they do in the few places that have much.
It is an inescapable lesson of history that the Christian faith has flourished most when and where it was least comfortable. In times of plenty, believers often stall and the things they believe in become irrelevant to the many around them. The lesson is that there is a big difference between growing and growing fat. There is also a big difference between Easter and the way many of us celebrate it today.
To those of you who face challenges this Easter morning, take a look again at Easter and its story of hope in troubled times. It is not at its core a day centered around chocolate and Easter hams. Many of us may have indeed tried to take it there, but our doing so has no more changed the message of Easter than our badly reciting a poem can diminish the talents of the original poet. Easter is still a time to celebrate; we just need to stop to remember and resurrect what the celebration is all about.
To those of us who celebrate amidst plenty, let’s not forget the family, friends and strangers who struggle and who may need some reason to believe in new beginnings. God gives each of us the power to change our surroundings as well as the surroundings of others, and to help them create better days. That’s an Easter gift well worth sharing.