Ask any child what Easter means to them and more than likely their answer will revolve around kite flying, eating chocolate ‘eggs’, hat shows and for little girls in particular, bonnet parades.
Many adults, this Easter weekend – after two years of COVID-19 and its effect of social curtailment – will be travelling for Regatta or Rodeo or maybe overseas because it affords a four-day break without the need to take an official holiday.
However, not enough attention is paid to the real meaning of Easter – the oldest and most important day of the Christian year.
The meaning of Easter is Jesus Christ’s victory over death. It is about one man, who was blameless, assuming responsibility for all guilty men. And he promises eternal life for those who accept him as their personal saviour, with the forgiveness of sins and adherence to the principles and teachings he advocated.
The Easter message is, therefore, one of renewal and hope. It is about the triumph of good on Easter Sunday, over the desperation and gloom which must have overtaken followers of Jesus on Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion.
It is also about the redemption of man who had fallen through his sinful choices, and for whom the eternal love of God had been shown by the sacrifice of his own beloved son so that the world through him might be saved.
This timeless message is one tailored for these times, if it is properly understood. It is, in a word, a message of hope!
This weekend, starting today with Good Friday, when we celebrate the monumental event that is at the centre of the Christian faith – “The Resurrection” – it is perhaps an appropriate occasion for reflections on the decline in behaviour and values, and the moral and spiritual challenges facing society.
In this context, we may also need to recall that Jesus’ death was preceded by the public acclamation for the rogue and robber Barabbas, and the wholesale condemnation to the horrors of crucifixion of a man of whom Pilate could say he had “found no fault with”.
Even then, the public were given to choosing the popular and easy path in preference to the decision which would have accorded with the virtuous and unpopular way.
This is the period too where the leaders in our country, particularly those in Parliament, should reflect on their approach and treatment of each other in that august chamber, as any semblance of negativity demonstrated by them could easily be mimicked.
Living by example is not just for adherents of the Christian faith, but for all people of this country and in particular those in positions of influence and decision-making.
So, as we observe Good Friday today and then celebrate Easter on Sunday, rejoicing at the Resurrection, both Christians and other members of our society need to reflect on the essential message of the season.
At the same time, we need to recognise the broader appeal of the message of the biblical doctrines which provide hope for us in recessionary times, and also provide a road map for citizens in a society which has been adversely affected by social deviance and increasing violence – that “one should love one’s neighbour as one’s self”.
The meaning of Good Friday today, which precedes Easter, therefore, includes a need to see the wider message of hope and renewal.