I want to briefly address an issue on why we use the word Easter instead of Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday. Among my Reformed friends (and non-Reformed friends), Resurrection Sunday is the popular way to call this coming Sunday, and we typically just call it Easter.
The word Easter does have pagan origins. There’s a few that argue it doesn’t, but I think most scholars would agree that it has pagan origins, which may be new to you. But if it has pagan origins then why wouldn’t we say Resurrection Day? We call it Easter – why is that?
Anything from our culture, you really have three choices. You can reject it, receive it, or reform it. You can:
- Reject it: say it’s bad; throw it out
- Receive it: you embrace it just as it is
- Reform it: take it and make it better… that’s kind of what we do with Easter
So why would we say “Happy Easter” this Sunday instead of “Happy Resurrection Day?” For us at Northridge, it has to do with our target. Who is our target? Our primary target is a brand new Christian, secondary target is an almost Christian, and our third target is an 8th grader. And with all three of those primary groups they understand Easter is a Christian holiday, and the phrase Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday would be foreign to them. And so we want to use the terms of our culture, the language of our culture, whenever we can. They know it’s a day they go to church, and when they’re at church (if it’s a good church) they’ll clearly know it’s about the resurrection and they will hear the Gospel. Many Christians are big proponents of not using the word “Easter.” They say you should use “Happy Resurrection Day,” and that’s fine. Every Easter Sunday I have people that say, “Happy Resurrection Day” to me, and I say it right back. Of course I do. That is what we are celebrating. But I’m not a legalist on such things and I actually use the term “Easter” primarily for strategic purposes.
There were years ago early on at Northridge that I would say Resurrection Sunday out of some kind of conviction I had, which is fine (if you have that conviction). But the more that I’m trying to connect with people that are far from God that don’t understand the church culture, I think using the term “Easter” is good. They don’t think pagan holiday they actually think a churched holiday. So that’s why we use the term Easter and we don’t look at it as evil and we don’t think someone is more godly if they use the term Resurrection Day, but if you do, that’s good. It’s all for us about who our target is.
Don’t forget: this Sunday, Resurrection Day, Easter Sunday at Greece and Webster 9:00 and 10:30, at Irondequoit 8:30, 10:00, and 11:30. Pray, invest, invite. Who will you bring? Hope to see you there!