At this time of year many Christians are conflicted as to whether they should celebrate Easter or not, as the holiday itself has some pagan roots, and many churches have opted to rename Easter Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. Let me level with you. It is not a sin to celebrate the season of Easter.
Easter, is a spring festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. In many cultures, this is observed by various spring festivals. About two weeks ago I attended a Japenese spring festival, and last week I welcomed spring by enjoying Brazilian samba percussion on the beach, under the moonlit spring sky. There is absolutely nothing wrong or pagan about celebrating spring. God is the one who created the seasons, and if we choose to give honor to Him for the seasons, then He is even more glorified as Creator.
Every year, the Jews celebrate a spring festival called Passover. Passover celebrations are not just about eating a passover seder of lamb, unleavened bread, and wine. Historically speaking, under the temple era, Jews were required to bring in a wave sheaf offering of the firstfruits (of early spring crops) before the Lord on the first Sunday following Passover.
Leviticus 23:9-11(emphasis in caps supplied):
9And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH the priest shall wave it.
It was a time for the Jews to give thanks to God for providing food in the spring, after the winter.
Because as Christians we believe that Christ had become the passover lamb, we no longer celebrate the Jewish passover. We have replaced Jewish passover celebrations with Good Friday, as a day to remember Christ's suffering on the cross as our passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Easter Sunday celebrations, or Resurrection Sunday, as it is now popularly called, have replaced the wave sheaf first fruit offering. The resurrection of Christ from the dead has fulfilled the requirement of the wave sheaf offering of firstfruits. We read, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20).
So Good Friday/Easter celebrations have become the new Christian spring festival, and yes, we are not required to keep them yearly, but those who do are only excercising their God-given right to worship God, according to the dictates of their conscience. I join with Christians worldwide in celebration of our risen Lord during this spring season, which is a time of God's renewal of the earth from the darkness and death of winter. Our Lord Jesus' life was renewed/resurrected in the spring too.
So today, instead of attending a sunrise service, I will be celebrating spring by going horseback riding through some nature trails, to enjoy the beauty of God's re-creation and re-newing of the earth this resurrection Sunday, and spring.
Happy Easter! Happy Resurrection Sunday! Happy Spring!
P.S Okay, so Easter has a name derived from paganism. Well, so does our days of the week and months of the year. It is not the name we celebrate, but the season, and the God who created this season.