Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Easter - The Bunny or the Beloved Son?

What's the most celebrated holiday?  Christmas, right?  Well, not in all parts of the world or in all cultures, of course, but generally speaking.  Everyone sees or catches in some way the Spirit of Christmas that time of year, or, more accurately the Spirit of Christ.  It's a wonderful time of year that often brings out the best in people.

But there's another holiday that gets much less attention than it should.  I believe it should get as much, if not more attention, than Christmas.  That holiday is Easter.

Why is there not more hype about it?  This is something that has bothered me more every year.  It's the day the full force of His Atonement became complete, the day we were all granted eventual immortality, and it's His real birthday (And don't go there, yes it is.  You seriously don't believe that shepherds would be out feeding their sheep on green grass in the middle of winter do you?).  I have asked my wife every year if I can please keep some of the Christmas decorations up until April for that reason and the last few years she has been gracious enough to let me keep the mini tree up on our piano as well as (this year) our nativities.  This year we are also putting up (permanently) next to our front door a framed copy of The Living Christ alongside The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

For satan to have things his way, what a better way to distract from the supernal wonder of the Resurrected Lord than to give plenty of distractions to draw people's attention away from Him?  I'm not saying the Easter bunny is a bad thing.  I just think that if we take an honest look at where our focus is and where we are putting our families and children's focus the result will be a realization that we are not centering our families and homes on Him enough.

How would you feel if you had given all your heart and soul to provide someone the most sacred and everlasting gift that could be offered and they brushed it aside or split their attention between it and something totally irrelevant?  The answer to this question I believe can be illustrated by something President Nelson wrote in his book Accomplishing the Impossible, "Many years ago, two colleagues of mine-a nurse and her doctor husband-asked me why I lived the way I did.  I answered, 'Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.'  I let them borrow a copy of the book, inviting them to read it.  A week later they returned my book with a polite 'thanks a lot.' I responded, 'What do you mean, thanks  a lot? That's a totally inappropriate response for one who has read this book.  You didn't read it, did you?  Please take it back and read it; then I would like my book back.'"  The result from his experience with was two people returning the book with tear filled eyes, saying "We know it's true! We'd like to know more."

This is how I feel when Jesus Christ and/or His atoning sacrifice for us, including His victory over death, is brushed aside or given a few brief moments of thought followed by an "okay, moving on now." It's so saddening.  As Tad R. Callister said, "One does not speak lightly of the Atonement or casually express appreciation.  It is the most sacred and sublime event in eternity.  It deserves our most intense thoughts, our most profound feelings, and our noblest deeds.  One speaks of it in reverential tones; one contemplates it in awe; one learns of it in solemnity.  This event stands alone, now and throughout eternity."

How can we possibly claim to be true Christians if we're taking the greatest and most miraculous of all the achievements in human history - the conquering of death, sin, weakness, etc. - while in any degree allowing ourselves to get distracted from the One who beat them for us?  The answer is simple.  You can't.

A true disciple of Christ will view Him and His example, sufferings, death and resurrection as a reason to center Easter - and, really, your whole life, heart and soul - on Him.

As the hymn says:
"He is risen! He is risen! Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst his three days' prison; Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered; man is free.
Christ has won the victory."

It reminds of the beginning of the first Harry Potter book when Vernon was met by wizards out in broad daylight and was even told by one of them "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today!  Rejoice for You-Know-Who has gone at last!  Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!"

When I see Easter "decorations" all over the stores and public areas based on a bunny and eggs (which doesn't even make sense, since bunnies don't lay eggs), I feel disappointed at how successful the devil is at keeping people's attention away from Christ during a time of year where our attention should be on Him more than ever.  I think it would be awesome if it was a hunt for an empty tomb and folded sheets instead of for eggs.  We have plenty of Christmas pageants and nativities done for kids during Christmas time, so why not more portrayal the scene at the cross and 3 days later of Mary Magdalene at the Garden Tomb being greeted by the risen Lord?

I know He lives today.  I know His life, His example, His church, His gospel, and most importantly His atoning sacrifice for us are just as efficacious today as they always been.  I have seen and heard things throughout my life that don't leave any room for doubt about Him.  I know for certain He has personally stood with me, helped me, wept for me and sent angels from both sides of the veil to lift, strengthen, correct and console me in my weakness and my burdens.  He is real.  He is our perfect, glorified, immortal Redeemer and Son of God.  I know this from my own personal experience and you can too if you but follow Him by striving to live how He did and following the counsel of His prophets today.

My testimony of Him echoes that of modern prophets, certifying "the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice."  I stand with them in their declaration that "none other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth."

The Prince of Peace lives!

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