FOCUS: The promise of Easter

Easter is celebrated the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21. The earliest date for Easter is March 22 and the latest date for Easter is April 25. People celebrate the Easter holiday period according to their beliefs and their religious denominations. Many of the Easter Customs have their origin from pre-Christian times and have been adopted along with the Christian beliefs of Passover, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the Son of the Living God. Many churches have special services for Passover, a Jewish feast commemorating the night when God, smiting the first-born of Egyptians “passed over” the houses of the children of Israel and is a celebration held in many homes. Many churches have a Maundy Thursday Communion Service to commemorate the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his Disciples prior to his death on the cross. Good Friday is a time to remember Jesus Christ on the day of His death on the cross.

Palm Sunday will be celebrated this coming Sunday with Palm branches as we remember Jesus, riding on a donkey as people wave the palm branches on his arrival in Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the first day of Holy Week.

Next week will be Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday April 17. Many churches will be sharing various services leading up to Easter. Check your local newspaper for the churches, dates and special services to be held. What a blessing it would be to see our Upshur County churches full for all the Easter services provided for all ages.

The true meaning of Easter began thousands of years ago with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How many people would lay down their lives to save others?  Jesus died on the cross to offer his life as a sacrifice so we can have ever lasting life. This sacrifice was made for all who believe in the birth, the death and the resurrection of our Lord. By faith we can know we are saved and will one day live with our Heavenly father in love and peace. 

Easter is a celebration of new life and there are many symbols that represent the Easter story. Symbols make the story of Easter easier for children to understand. It never hurts for adults to read and listen about these symbols that represent the life of Jesus. Of course, the cross represents the death of Jesus. Did you know that the dogwood tree was used to make the cross upon which Jesus died? If one looks at the blossom of the dogwood tree the story is there. The dogwood blossom has two short and two long petals. At the end of each petal, there is a dark red which represents the nail prints of Jesus hands and feet. In the center of the blossom, there is a circle of green which represents the crown of thorns which was placed on Jesus’ head. God made a promise that the dogwood tree would never again be used as a cross for crucifixion so as you look at the dogwood tree, it is twisted and bent and never again will be tall and strong enough for a cross.

As Easter season is upon us, you will see butterflies, chicks, bunnies, eggs, lilies, roosters and palm branches in many stores. The challis and a loaf of bread, the basin and cloth, are seen in pictures and candy made into the symbols of the Easter story are sold for Easter baskets. Each symbol is part of the Easter story. Palm branches represent the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The challis, or cup, and the bread represent the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples. The wine in the cup represents the blood shed by Jesus and the bread is a representation of the body of Jesus. We celebrate this symbol as Holy Communion which is remembering the life of Jesus and the sacrifice he gave for us. We remember the basin and cloth as the service Jesus gave to his disciples when he told the disciples that he would wash their feet and be their servant. This example shows us that we should be of service to others. The rooster represents the three times Peter denied knowing Christ before the rooster crowed. Chicks, bunnies and eggs represent the creation of new life.  The lily represents the pure life of Jesus. The lily comes out of a bulb which dies for the flower to grow. As long as we use these symbols during the Easter season we are remembering the life of Jesus.

My favorite symbol of Easter is the butterfly. I believe this symbol best describes the life on earth, death and resurrection of our new lives. If you want to share the Easter story with your children, use the symbol of the butterfly. A caterpillar is the larva of the butterfly and represents life as we know it. The cocoon is the envelope spun by the larva which houses the caterpillar as it changes into the butterfly which is very different than the caterpillar which enters the cocoon. The cocoon represents the resting and changing that takes place at death. The butterfly which comes out of the cocoon is new, different, beautiful and flutters about sharing its beauty with the world. The butterfly is free to fly anywhere. This butterfly represents the new life after death. Just the story of the butterfly should attest to the God of Creation. These symbols are teaching tools for making the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection easier to understand. God has given us His Son to show us the way to everlasting life. All we have to do is believe by faith that Jesus was born, lived and died to take all of our sins away. Jesus rose on the third day into Heaven and will return again to reign on the earth. What a promise that is for all who believe in the Easter celebration of the life of Christ. We are given a choice. God has given us the directions. Jesus made the sacrifice for all. We have the choice of everlasting life. The choice is ours to make.

Many churches have special services through Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunrise Services and Easter church services. Post your services in the newspapers, radio and tv with an invitation to attend. Chapel Hill UMC has a variety of services and invite you to attend. The following services planned for Palm Sunday through Easter can be found in the community calendar.

If you do not have a church that you attend regularly, find one this coming Easter Sunday. Upshur County churches open their doors to all who wish to enter.

I leave you with this message. “For God so loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it but to save it.”- John 3:16

From my family to yours, have a blessed Easter.


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