It seems to me that you learn a lot about people from what they celebrate. I was thinking about that while I was reading the Christmas newsletters we delight in receiving every year. Generally, these newsletters celebrate some aspect of the year gone by in the life of those who send them. For many, it consists in the achievements of their kids (or grandkids!). For others, it lies in notable accomplishments and successes. For still others, it stems from the trips they have taken and the places they have seen. Some even mention their churches, and one of the most touching cards we received talked about experiences had on a mission trip. The most logical conclusion one might draw is that these are the things that are most important to the people who make the effort to write about them.
In much the same way, Passover and Easter are celebrations that are meant to express what is most important in the life of a Jew or a Christian. Passover, described in the reading from Exodus, points to God’s grace in sparing the Israelites as he delivered them from the brutal slavery of the Egyptians, and brought them through exodus and set them free. Christians celebrate this same grace in Easter. Only now that grace becomes most fully manifested in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb by whose blood God passes over our sins, and through whose resurrection God delivers his people from the power of death and sets us free.
So on this Easter Day, what are you and I celebrating, really? Baskets and bunnies? Chocolate and ham? Time off and a trip with the family? There is nothing wrong with any of these things, of course. They are all good and beautiful in their own right, and they are all that many in the world around us think of on this day. But for the Christian…well, Easter is a very different story. It is the day where we remember the importance of the Jesus who delivers us from sin, raises us to life anew, and causes our hearts to burn like fire within us. That, friends, is something well worth celebrating!