Easter is one of the most highly celebrated festivals by Christian communities around the world. Prelates together with their church members convene in designated places of worship to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Just like Christmas, Easter is a religiously observed day worldwide and has impressively managed to preserve its essence, Its call still stands loud for religious consecration and worship, unlike Christmas that has been taken by many to mean buying of new clothes and gathering as families and friends to conduct none Christian activities.
In many Christian communities, Easter is sandwiched in other related celebrations, most conducted as a prelude to this Christ’s resurrection centered day with activities rendered symbolic to the Christian cause.
In spite of its significance in Christianity, some branches of Christian faith do not celebrate this day because its origins are ascribed to pagan worship. The Jehovah’s Witness congregation is one among many that do not commemorate this day. One of the questions asked by anti-Easter Christian communities has to do with what is more important to be kept fresh and alive in the minds of Christians? His death or His resurrection?
The Bible in Leviticus 17:11, stresses the importance of blood for the forgiveness of sins, which most Christian communities if not all, believe is pointing to the death and shedding blood of Christ on the old crude rugged cross for the remission of sins. For the law to be satisfied someone was to die, and this was accomplished in the person of Jesus Christ.
If truly his death is more important to humanity, why then do Christians observe his resurrection more than his death?
In his book Miller’s Church History Short Papers on Church History, Andrew Miller states it was a decision made by the Nicaean council held in AD 325, with church leaders from all over the world including the Emperor Constantine to resolve a number of doctrinal conflicts including the question of Easter worship.
“It was ordained by the council of Nice to be observed in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ throughout the whole Christendom… thus Easterday is the Sunday.”
Encompassing the question of pagan originated symbolism associated with Easter observance, is the question of its name, which some scholars including Andrew Miller argue that the word Easter itself is pagan in nature and origin as it comes from ‘Eostara/ Ostara’ a name of the goddess worshiped in paganism. It is believed that the observance of Easter is timed at exactly the time a festival (Eostara Festival) of worship to this pagan goddess was conducted.
Could it be that the Nicaean council was heavily populated by pagan affiliated leaders who influenced the edict of Easter observance, a celebration of the resurrection of Christ as was held by the Western churches at the expense of his death as was held by Eastern churches? Could it be because the Emperor Constantine who was believed (in spite of his professed Christian conversion) to be both a Christian and the Chief Priest in pagan worship that the emperor together with the obsequious clergyman repealed the commemoration of Christ’s death and made an edict of a universal Easter observance? Is it because of the interference of the prelates in the state seats and councils that saw the observance of Easter a universal Christian festival to this day even here in Zimbabwe? Could the adoption of a pagan like if not a pagan festival answer to the loss of lives during this time of the year? Could it be because the entire Christendom has grafted in the church and baptised a pagan festival that innocent lives die trying to honour the resurrection of Christ at this time? Is it just common road accidents or there is more to it? Why are the pastors, Bishops, priests, Pope and all highly esteemed church leaders quiet about it when it is a matter within their jurisdiction? Could it be that there is need for another council in the 21st century to sit and reconsider the past decisions and offer solemn prayers to God? Is it because death has become very common that the world is ready to record the number of deaths and tragedies on this festival and do nothing about it? Is it coincidental or it has a meaning?