Easter was always a magical time as a kid growing up — hot cross buns, hoarding chocolate Easter eggs, hand-blowing and decorating and hunting for eggs — and — let’s not beat around the bush, those precious two weeks off school.
There were also some church services thrown in, lots of talk of crucifixion, Jesus dying for our sins, and this beyond-comprehension resurrection.
It was a time to remember how terrible we human beings are, and how pure and without sin Jesus was, as demonstrated by a) making that ultimate sacrifice with his life, and b) all that love he poured out for us while up there dying on the cross.
Now. First off. I wasn’t raised a Christian.
If anything, I was raised an atheist, a non-believer, equally sceptical of the Holy Bible and the Easter Bunny.
But as I’ve grown up and become this alleged adult, I’ve explored more and more of my own spirituality.
I’ve actually found myself very on board with many teachings that are put forward by religion, at a high level. There is so much that Buddhism and Christianity share with ancient yogic teachings that it’s impossible to not believe it comes from the same place somewhere up the line — some shared root.
The moralistic teachings resonate with me, often really strongly. It’s more like recognition of truth than knowledge, or even a belief.
Having this in our hearts is what god means to me.
This is how I understand a connection to god.
As a non-Christian, I do take issue with a few of the fairly fantastic historical accounts in the Bible. Nonetheless, I try and take the message at high level, and I read around it — even if I don’t necessarily take the stories at face value.
So, because it’s Easter, I decided to test this one against my internal discernment guauge.
Well, I’m just not sure it adds up for me.
Hold up. First we need to caveat this whole thing: this isn’t a judgment on Christianity.
It’s not any kind of attempt to debunk or undermine the Bible — I don’t want to do that. I think it has incredible purpose and an incredible message. So if anything, this post is written tongue firmly in cheek, alongside some delicious chocolate easter egg — just because it’s Easter Sunday.
So here lies the nub.
It’s where religion goes sideways for me. The whole making sacrifices in return for forgiveness from committing sin doesn’t sit well with me. There’s a big disconnect between sin, and forgiveness, and God’s role in all of this.
Personally, I think sin, darkness, badness, evil — all of those things are just a part of life. I don’t believe we need to try and live without it per se. Without it, we wouldn’t recognise or appreciate light.
Furthermore, I strongly don’t believe we need to make sacrifices for forgiveness, sin or otherwise.
But we do need forgiveness.
This is huge.
And I really feel that with all the easter eggs and focus on sin and death and crosses, we actually overlook the importance of forgiveness.
We aren’t denying it — the message is definitely there, but it’s like diversion tactics, you know?
It’s not the main event. JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS.
And the second issue I have with it — just to really drive that nail home — pun very deliberate — in my opinion at least, it’s not Jesus and God that we need to ask for forgiveness.
I don’t think they are best qualified to give it.
We need to forgive ourselves.
I’m not saying let’s run around and commit sin, and then just forgive ourselves for it. Wipe the slate clean. Imagine that world.
No. Less sin would be good. But the sins spoken of in the Bible means that we seem to be seeking forgiveness for just being a straight up human being, with (fairly) normal human desires and actions.
Feeling like we’ve sinned for being human is just making the human experience that bit harder — but bad things just keep occurring in the world anyways, sins just getting committed over and over: climate change, war, humanitarian crises, poverty, famine, globalisation.
Fear the God “Profit.”
For shizzle we need to be committing less harm in the world.
But for reals, we need to forgive ourselves for what it is to be human.
‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’
— Alexander Pope
Jesus gave his life, if he even was a person, to forgive us for our sins. He did something for us. He was forgiven. He was resurrected for us to be given the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins.
Easter is about forgiveness.
I just want to take that sin bit out — I don’t like it. God is there for accountability, but it’s a cop-out.
I wonder how the world would be if, instead of acknowledging an external being for absolving our sins, we took personal responsibility for that love and forgiveness.
How much better human beings we might be, and how much less “sin” there might be in the world.
As far as I’m concerned, that is (in huge, flashing neon lights) what the core message and function of god is. That’s how I see religion, as a guide to get there, and things like the Bible a collection of stories to illustrate the journey.
While I’m at it — alongside forgiveness, there’s also a huge message in Easter about staying true to your own beliefs.
There is a huge message around the possibility of rebirth, renewal, resurrection.
I love the metaphors of Easter being about rebirth, renewal, spring time, and even the idea of Ostara (a lesser known goddess associated with the coming of spring, and dawn, celebrated with a feast around the spring equinox, coinciding with Easter … of course).
As nature kicks into life, buds are beginning to blossom, Spring is indeed coming. But as Buddhism teaches, this is everyday.
“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
In that case, Easter is nothing to do with Jesus at all.
It’s about us.
It’s about the opportunity we have every damn day to rise up from the things that happened yesterday and throughout history, and make better choices today.
I do love the contrasts in Easter, between light and dark, birth and death, good and bad, virtue and sin, pleasure and pain. (Of course I’m specifically talking about Easter eggs and how they are diametrically opposite being nailed to the cross).
Traditionally, Easter is about acknowledging that pain and being thankful for Jesus taking the hit.
Yes there’s beauty in his resurrection and his love for us, but really, the true beauty comes when we can see this playing out in ourselves. When we forgive ourselves for our humanness, and we wake up again each day and try and do it better.
This Easter, I just have gratitude for that reminder.
No bunnies. No Easter egg hunt. And certainly, no crosses.
Just one single chocolate easter egg (no, I couldn’t resist, and yes, I forgive myself for it) … and huge gratitude.
Gratitude for being human, gratitude for trying, gratitude for being on this path. Gratitude for love.
To me this is what Easter is really about.