Manitoba·Point of View

Faith and festivities: Christians can honour Easter's significance and enjoy non-religious celebrations

On Easter Sunday, many people ask the question: is it possible to honour the holiday's religious significance, and also participate in non-religious celebrations like Easter egg hunts? Winnipeg pastor Todd Poirier says yes, and they should.

'I grew up celebrating both' the resurrection and non-religious celebrations of Easter egg hunts: pastor

My Church Winnipeg's Pastor Todd Poirier says there's a connection between the message of hope in the religious significance of Easter and the connections drawn between people in the holiday's non-religious festivities. (Supplied/Todd Poirier)

On Easter morning, children across North America will wake up to the excitement of hunting for chocolate Easter eggs, placed carefully by the Easter bunny throughout their respective homes.

On the same morning, Christian children and adults will wake up to the excitement of hunting for hope through the celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection.

The question is raised: can a follower of Christ still enjoy the non-religious celebrations of Easter egg hunts, decorating eggs,or even the Easter bunny?

I think they can, and I think they should. I grew up celebrating both.

Unashamedly, I still do.

We aren't trying to water down the message that Jesus brought, but instead strengthen our community through intentional moments of celebration and tradition.

In fact, this week my mother texted my wife and me to see when we could come over to participate in the family annual Easter egg hunt, along with my siblings and niece. I love family traditions and Easter is no exception.

As a follower of Christ, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are more than just statutory holidays. I take both days to reflect on what Jesus Christ of Nazareth did more than 2,000 years ago.

Good Friday typically takes a solemn tone, where I reflect on the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, I celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead, defeated death and bridged the way for humanity to experience eternal life in heaven.

It's a celebration of hope and life. I celebrate restoration: the life and order Jesus brought to this chaotic world.

Today, in a world where families are driven by activity, technology and overall busyness, I find there is something restorative when I take the time to stop and celebrate with family and friends. I love being able to pause with my family as we have fun and create memories together.

A message of hope, a celebration of family

At the church where I work, My Church Winnipeg, we celebrate the miracle of Easter.

We value bringing Jesus's message of hope to the hopeless. Jesus has changed my life and the lives of so many people in our community. I've seen people who are searching for hope and peace find solace within the comfort and teachings of Jesus.

We provide programs and opportunities for families to spend time together. Our church intentionally invests in community through block parties and other family events.

Can I draw a connection to the restorative miracle in the cross and empty tomb with taking the time to invest in loved ones and build relationships? I think I can.

On Easter Sunday, our church will also take the opportunity to celebrate families. We combine the hope that Jesus brings with the joy of celebrating together as families and friends. After the Sunday morning service, all the children will be sent out to the lobby to hunt for chocolate eggs that our volunteers hid that morning.

I love seeing the joy in the faces of the children as they search for chocolate, and I love seeing the joy in the faces of their parents and grandparents as they watch the children.

Our church community places value on celebration and connection. We aren't trying to water down the message that Jesus brought, but instead strengthen our community through intentional moments of celebration and tradition.

An opportunity for connection

Holidays present an opportunity for connection. I would rather embrace some of the secular traditions that allow me to celebrate with my family than discard them.

Of course, it is up to each family to decide the merits of a tradition before embracing it. We don't celebrate every single holiday simply because it's on the calendar. I recognize that the roots of some of the traditions that we celebrate in North America may not sit well with every person. Not every holiday may warrant making a tradition for your family.

As with Christmas, in North America we've created a non-religious way to celebrate Good Friday and Easter: chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and painted eggs. There aren't strong religious arguments to connect the two, but I don't think that requires the Christian community to dismiss these non-religious celebrations.

In fact, this could be an opportunity to connect with your community and build relationships with family, loved ones, friends and neighbours. That would be an opportunity to put into practice the command Jesus gave his followers to "love
their neighbours."

Can I draw a connection from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to hunting for chocolate eggs laid by the elusive Easter bunny? No, that would be a stretch.

Can I draw a connection to the restorative miracle in the cross and empty tomb with taking the time to invest in loved ones and build relationships? I think I can. Isn't that closer to what Jesus came to do anyway?

So this weekend, even if you don't hunt for chocolate or attend a church service, could I encourage you to at least take some time to celebrate with your family?

I will be.


This column is part of  CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Todd Poirier serves on the pastoral team at My Church Winnipeg. He and his wife are proud to call Winnipeg home and explore what the city has to offer.

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