Thursday, 9 April 2009

Guide To The Resurrection

Now WhyNotSmile is not one to go with the flow, but when she heard of the Evangelical Alliance's Syncronised Blogging Day today, she had to admit to being sucked right in.

Today's topic is to be The Resurrection. WhyNotSmile is never good when she is forced to write on a given topic (or when forced to do anything really), so she is a little uncertain as to how to approach this, but will, as ever, give it her best shot.

I think the best approach is simply to provide a Guide To The Resurrection, for the uninformed. Indeed, with a recent survey showing that only 22% of people surveyed know what Easter is about, I think I would be providing a public service by doing so.

We will begin with the basics: Easter is a Christian celebration which was hijacked from the Pagans (who called it Eostre, but with a line above the E); Christians had been celebrating Easter for a long time before this, but just hadn't called it Easter. I do not know why they hijacked Eostre specifically (I could probably look it up on Wikipedia, but frankly, so can you), but I suspect it was for the chocolate eggs, and also the whole thing with Spring arriving (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway), and bunnies and chicks and so on reminding us of new life, which is a bit like resurrection. This would be because Easter marks the death and resurrection of Jesus, whose surname was Christ* and after whom Christians are named.

*not really; Christ means 'anointed', and is therefore regal.

Now, you may or may not be aware that this week (due to being the week before Easter) is Holy Week, and that today is Maundy Thursday (yesterday having been Spy Wednesday, Holy Wednesday or Great Wednesday, depending on your tradition). Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which took place on the night before Jesus' crucifixion, and is therefore Solemn, but Not As Solemn As Good Friday. This is why lots of churches have services on Maundy Thursday, and when people come out they look a bit sad. Sometimes these services are held in one church with other churches in the area all attending in a show of Christian Unity; this is the sort of occasion which would normally involve tea, traybakes and polite conversation in a slightly-too-small-for-so-many-people church hall, and with the-ladies-don't-normally-cater-for-quite-so-many-and-are-having-to-use-the-big-dishwasher type conversations, but for Maundy Thursday there is not so much as a Rice Krispie bun, and although Holy Communion will often be served, it is not to be considered to be refreshments.

Now, the Last Supper may have connections with the Passover meal, but that is a topic for the Advanced Guide To The Resurrection and we shall not dwell on it here. Essentially it was the last meal that Jesus and the disciples (12 blokes who followed him about, mostly saying dumb things a lot) ate together before Jesus was crucified. Also it was supper, hence the name. During the meal, Jesus announced that one of the disciples would betray him and later said that Peter would deny him, which you've got to imagine was a bit of a conversation killer. A bloke called Leonardo Da Vinci painted a picture of them all and then a bloke called Dan Brown got a little carried away and wrote a book about it.

Also on this night, Jesus prayed in a garden which was called Gethsemane, while the disciples fell asleep. You will have spotted by now that the disciples do not come out of this part of the story entirely well; you may also be starting to see why Rice Krispie buns are not appropriate.

Tomorrow will be Good Friday, and this commemorates the day on which Jesus was crucified, and provides an excellent excuse to eat Hot Cross Buns. The original Good Friday was rather a hectic sort of day, with a full-blown attempt at a trial, a near-riot, and a crucifixion all happening before mid-afternoon; the essential point, however, was that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and that the people of the day took exception to this. It is interesting to note that the whole issue of forgiveness of sins is not, in fact, an integral part of the story as originally told by Your Man On The Streets Of Jerusalem That Day, although that's not to say it hadn't been mentioned before then.

Now it could all have ended there, and indeed on Easter Saturday there is a sense of not a lot happening (although it's probably worth taking the chance to get some bread and milk in, cos the shops will be closed till Tuesday at least), but then on Easter Sunday, the disciples and some women, or a combination thereof, went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried (which had been sealed up and had guards posted on it because Jesus had said he would rise from the dead, which was a bit of a giveaway prediction and yet still didn't stop it happening, thus demonstrating contemporary parallels with the current financial situation, having been anticipated months ago and carrying on regardless), and discovered several unexpected features, such as:
(1) the stone and guards having disappeared
(2) there being no body in the tomb
(3) a ruddy great angel sitting on top of the whole shebang, or weeding the garden, or something.

Now, points (1) and (2) could perhaps suggest that the disciples had followed the wrong map or something (hardly surprising given their performance so far), but the fact that they had women with them and the inclusion of point (3) do not lend weight to this theory.

Anyway, this is called The Resurrection, and is celebrated on Easter Sunday, and gives rise to the tradition of egg rolling, in which boiled eggs are rolled down hills to commemorate the stone being rolled away from the tomb. They are also decorated, but I do not think this is to commemorate anything; I think it is to keep the children quiet for longer.

The Resurrection is also the central point of Christian belief, what with the whole 'Jesus conquering death' thing and how Jesus took upon himself God's punishment for the sins of all people everywhere and therefore we can all conquer death and live forever, but also have life in all its fullness because of the forgiveness of our sins and the Holy Spirit and so on.

And this concludes the WhyNotSmile Guide To The Resurrection, but it is probably not as good as the version in the Bible, and you should maybe go and read that now as well; you will also discover that the disciples got it together in the end, and this may give us pause to wonder whether we would have done anything differently.

Edit: I am also supposed to direct you all to Slipstream, which is where this whole thing is organised (the simultaneous blogging, not the resurrection). And they have podcasts. With Experts.


Vox O'Malley said...

Appreciate it whynotsmile. First Easter thing I've read. Probably all I need, gives the story without sermonising. Ta.

whynotsmile said...

No problem.

bresker said...

It's like the bible, but better!

I walked the stations of the cross with a Catholic congregation in Melbourne. We left the church and followed a man with a big cross over the streets and fields, stopping to learn how Jesus stumbled along the way and was helped along before being nailed to the cross. It was quite moving. I don't think they process around the countryside to walk the stations in Ireland. Maybe it's because the weather is so bad. I think folks just process around the church.

Anonymous said...

They do donkeys on Palm Sunday in Ireland.. And hardcore stations of the cross in the West of the country.. Head to Galway in Easter Week and your knees won't thank you for it!

Virtual Methodist said...

But it's blooming typical of EA along with 90% of the Christian world to rush headlong to resurrection before actually wrestling with the reality of death!

Sean said...

Most readable account of the Easter story since I read the Street bible. Ever thought of taking up a career as a writer?

whynotsmile said...

VM: I did rather think that myself, but you know how I like to do what I'm told.

Sean: I am not sure that I would be a good writer at all, as I would be unable to stick to one topic for long enough. If I tried to rewrite the Bible, I would get 2 chapters in and go off on a tangent: Adam & Eve to Creme Eggs in 5 paragraphs, or something.

My favourite Bible is the lego one:

Some guy made a Playmobil one, but they tried to sue him, so I am never buying Playmobil again, and I hope you won't either.