4 Ways to NOT Celebrate Easter Sunday4 Ways to NOT Celebrate Easter Sunday

4 Ways to NOT Celebrate Easter Sunday

And how to celebrate Holy Week

If you grew up in America, you likely grew up celebrating Easter Sunday. At the very least, you smile (or roll your eyes) at the giant rabbits in the supermarket or give your children low-quality chocolate wrapped in pastel colors. But the meaning of Easter is deeper than rabbits and candy. Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is an ancient tradition that celebrates the day a Jewish man, who claimed to be God, rose from the dead. His name is Jesus, and he is the only person in human history to have risen from the dead, never to die again. With all this in mind, here are four ways NOT to celebrate Easter this year.

Don’t Feel Guilty

Religious holidays and traditions often come with a lot of guilt. As kids, our parents’ expectations might have been higher for special church services, and their anger at our falling short still haunts us. As adults, you might think you should be doing more to celebrate the day your Savior rose from the dead but you feel guilty that all you can really think of is hiding some Easter eggs for the kids and going to church. Or maybe you feel guilty because everyone around you seems very happy and convinced about the claims of Jesus, but you feel nothing. 

But Easter is not a holiday of guilt. It’s a holiday where guilt is taken away. When Jesus died on the cross he forgave those who nailed him to it. He died to cancel their guilt. And his resurrection from the dead means he’s powerful enough to take your guilt away too. Don’t feel guilty for not celebrating Easter the way you think you should. Easter is a holiday for people like you.

Don’t Make It About Traditions

There’s nothing inherently wrong with eggs, rabbits, and chocolate. But there’s also nothing inherently good about going to church on Easter Sunday. Easter isn’t about traditions. Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It’s impossible to celebrate the greatest moment in history with token gestures, even ones that seem pious and good. Easter is about remembering and reliving one of the most important events in history. If we reduce the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus to once-a-year traditions, we will always miss both the tragedy and the beauty of this day. But there is a solution…

Don’t Make It About One Day

For most of us Easter is a one-day affair when everyone is supposed to feel happy. But for the last 1,600 years Christians around the world have celebrated Holy Week—not just Easter Sunday. Holy Week starts a week before Easter on Palm Sunday. And each day of the week remembers the events that lead to Jesus’ death on the cross on Friday. And Holy Saturday pauses to remember that Jesus lay dead in a tomb for a whole day before rising on Sunday.

This might just seem like another tradition and more opportunities to feel guilty for not remembering Jesus' last days on earth properly, but those things don’t have to be true. Holy Week offers us an opportunity to engage intentionally with not just the happy point of Jesus’ resurrection, but also the low points. As humans we need time to process big events. And we need room to feel both happy and sad. By engaging in a whole week of Jesus’ life we can slow down, engage more thoughtfully, and be more open to a fuller range of human emotions. This is the opposite of tradition and guilt.

Don’t Engage Without Help 

The final week of Jesus' life is a difficult story to engage with. Not only does an innocent man die but something impossible happens—a resurrection. And if you’ve ever read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John you’ll know that a whole bunch happens in the days leading up to Jesus' death. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. He turns over tables in a temple. A woman wastes a year’s salary just to pour perfume on Jesus’ feet. And Jesus is betrayed by one of his disciples. The events of Holy Week are both surprisingly complex and intensely meaningful. 

And the best first place to look for help is your local church or pastor. If you haven’t already, reach out to churches and spiritual leaders you trust. Engage with the complexity and meaning of Holy Week. Another great place to look for help during Holy Week are resources like these eight short devotionals and this poetic overview. The Bible App can also help! They can offer you daily reminders to engage with a reading plan like this one that walks through every day of Holy Week. 

Holy Week and Easter Sunday announce that Jesus suffered and died but rose from the dead to cancel our guilt forever. It’s a beautiful story full of amazing details, characters, and a once-in-history resurrection. However you celebrate Easter this year, I hope this article reminds you of the good news this holiday guarantees.

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