As I was sitting in church last Sunday, halfway paying attention and halfway playing Angry Birds, I’m pretty sure that I heard my pastor say something about Easter being this Sunday. I’m not 100% sure because sometimes he mispronounces Esther. He mispronounces Philippians too and I don’t know whether to turn to it or get out a map of the South Pacific. Anyway, the point is that I got my new high score in Angry Birds and nobody can ever take that away from me.
“You hear that you stupid Iphone? NEVER! I don’t even care that you’re spying at me through my own camera. You can’t spy into my thoughts. And right now I’m thinking one more peep out of you and you’re getting replaced with an Android. They’re better phones anyway. I mean at least they’re compatible with Flash and that’s more than you can claim. UGH, I hate you…and yet I can’t quit you. This is so complicated.”
I went ahead and gave my pastor the benefit of the doubt and assumed that he was right about Easter quickly approaching. When I got home from church I opened my Bible and decided that I wanted to learn all about Easter that I could. I feverishly started looking for Easter in the Bible and after searching for what seemed like five minutes, I was discouraged to not have found it. I had a Strong’s concordance lying around so I decided to consult it even though I had no idea what it was for. I just thought it was a bigger Bible. I scanned all of the E’s and I found no Easter. At this point I started to get a little worried. Everyone at my church was ranting and raving about how much they were looking forward to Easter and my pastor was proclaiming that Easter is the most important day of the year. I wanted to sit down and think this through. Should I be the one to tell them that this “Easter” they’re talking about is nowhere in the Bible? I didn’t want to hurt their feelings because I saw how excited they were. Maybe it was because I was using the wrong Bible. I had been looking through an NIV but maybe Easter was in another version. I looked at the King James. No. HCSB. No. NASV. No. CEV. No. YMCA. No. Every Bible I looked through didn’t have one single mention of Easter. The lack of evidence was beginning to pile on. Was I the one who was going to have to go in front of our church and tell them the very bad news? “Why me?”, I shouted as I fell to the floor and pounded my fists on the ground out of frustration. I could just imagine the look on Mrs. Johnson’s face as she heard my grim report. She had been going to the church since its founding and always gave me an encouraging word and a junior mint every time I saw her. It pained me to think that I was going to crush her hopes. But I couldn’t keep this from her or the rest of the congregation because the obligation was too great.
I was going to have to be very careful the way I approached this. I couldn’t just make this announcement in front of our church because either they would dispel my membership or form a lynch mob and beat me until I recanted. I don’t blame them, though. If someone walked up to me and told me there was no donkey in Donkey Kong, me and my fists would help them quickly change their minds.
Yep, definitely a donkey.
As I examined this from every angle, I found that the best way to tell this was to speak to my pastor directly and then he could deliver the bad news. This was perfect because they wouldn’t do anything to him because finding a new pastor would be too much of a hassle with all the search committees and whatnot.
I pulled into the parking lot of the church and I sat there contemplating whether I should go through with this. I finally built up the courage to go do it. I got out of my car and started toward the pastor’s office. About halfway there I started to completely regret my decision so I scrambled back to my car. I found a pen and a piece of paper and scribbled the words ‘No Easter’ on it. I went up to the church door and jammed the paper between the frame and the door. I walked away feeling so relieved that I could do this while keeping commotion and confrontation to a minimum. I was almost to my car when suddenly I heard a voice calling to me.
“Hey, Aaron!”, I heard the voice call.
“Here I am Lord.”, I said as I looked upward. The voice called again.
“Aaron, what are you doing?”
I soon realized it wasn’t God who was calling me so I turned around to see who it was. It was my pastor. I figured he was calling me over to thank me for breaking the news to him in a subtle and respectful manner. I walked over to him and noticed he was holding the piece of paper in his hand. Before I could get out a ‘you’re welcome’, he held out the paper and asked me if I put it there.
“Yes sir” I said, “and I’m sorry you had to find out this way. I wanted to tell you face to face but I knew how heartbroken you would have been and I didn’t want to see you like that.” The pastor rolled his eyes as he seems to always do when we talk and he asked in a rather condescending tone,
“What do you mean by ‘No Easter’?”
“Well sir, I knew how much you and others were so excited about Easter so I wanted to go home and read all about it. But when I started reading, I couldn’t find the word Easter anywhere in the Bible. I decided to tell you because you always correct me when I’m wrong so it’s only right for me to correct you when you’re wrong.”
“Let’s go into my office.”, he said as he crumpled up the paper.
My initial thought was ‘let’s go into my office’ could mean so many different things. We could be going in there to have further discussions on this. He may have some kind of reward in his office that he was saving for such an occasion. Or it could mean the same thing it did in high school and I wanted no part of that. We walked into his office and I sat down in the chair in front of his desk as he reclined in the big leather chair behind the desk. This was starting to bring back memories of the high school experience and like I said, I wanted no part of that. I got up to walk out hoping that he wouldn’t notice but unfortunately he did and he told me to close the door while I was up. I was used to fear tactics like this. My principal used them on me all the time. His main goal was to make me so scared that I soiled my pants. Well the joke was on him because he was too late. However it did make for an uncomfortable rest of the meeting between us. I sat down and allowed him to begin the interrogation.
“Aaron, I know that the word Easter is not in the Bible”, the pastor began to explain. However there was something about his voice that triggered my eyes to glaze over and my ears to tune out. It happened like clockwork every Sunday morning and so from that point on I only picked up every couple of words. The rest is just paraphrased.
He continued, “Actually the word Easter derives from an Old English word that was attributed to an Anglo-Saxon goddess. They held a feast in her honor during the spring but eventually it died out and since “Passover” was a well established festival, Christians celebrated it instead but the Easter part stuck.”
“Groovy.”, I said not knowing how to respond because I had no clue what he was talking about.
“The main thing you need to remember, Aaron, is that it doesn’t matter when it is or what we call it; the whole reason behind this celebration is to give God glory and to exalt our Savior, Jesus, for his death, burial and resurrection. Because of God’s grace, Jesus did all that for us so we can have salvation and eternal life. Do you believe that, Aaron?”
“Yes sir.”, I replied while nodding.
“Good, now stand up and come over here.”, he said while motioning me to come near him.
At this point I had regained full consciousness and was very hesitant but I soon realized he wasn’t going to let me leave until I did so. I walked over to him and he opened his arms as if he wanted to hug me.
“Give me a hug.”, my pastor suggested.
“No way. What are you, mental?”, I replied. He walked over and embraced me before I could get away. I was so close to escaping but unlucky for me he grabbed my legs so my attempt to jump over his desk ended with a loud ‘thud’.
The hug wasn’t so bad and to be honest I could have used a hug. I leaned back and asked, “Since Easter’s not in the Bible I don’t want to say it anymore. Is there any other way to say ‘Happy Easter’ without actually saying those words?”
“How about ‘Happy Resurrection Day?'”, my pastor replied.
“Happy Resurrection Day.”, I told my pastor as I went in for the rest of the hug. I reflected on the day and felt very satisfied on how it ended. There was, however, one question about Easter that I knew only someone with a Masters of Divinity could answer.
“Just one more thing, how come Easter bunnies lay eggs while regular bunnies don’t?” My pastor immediately stopped hugging me and pointed toward the door.
“Get out.”, he said while shaking his head.
I headed toward the door and just as I was about to leave, I turned around and with a huge grin, looked at my pastor and said, “I think I’m going to sit on the front row Sunday”.
He facepalmed. I left.
Yeah it was something like that, Captain Picard.