Easter is commonly acknowledged by followers of the Christian faith as Resurrection Sunday. It truly is a celebration, commemorating a significant historical event – the resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Traditionally, Holy Week (the week preceding Easter) begins with Palm Sunday andprogresses to the celebratory Last Supper. It continues on a much more sombre note with the betrayal, crucifixion, and burial, and lastly culminates, triumphantly, with the resurrection of the risen Christ.
Believers adhere to many practices and rituals at this time and are united in their faith, characterized with much symbolism and tradition. One of these is the sign of thecross, a very sombre reminder of what our Lord had to endure. I’m by no means negating the power of the cross, but allow me to offer a slightly different perspective.
It’s a gentler reminder, if you will – the Easter Lily. The plant produces white flowers in bloom, a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to His creation in the midst of turmoil. A common belief, one that has been passed down throughout the centuries, is that lilies grow in the Garden of Gethsemane (the Holy Land), in the very place where Jesus agonized over what was in store for Him. Folklore even goes so far as implying that lilies grow in the very place where Jesus shed drops of sweat as he contemplated his fate.
Personally, I don’t place much stock in these kinds of stories. They tend to overdramatize events and draw attention away from the real message: Christ suffered, was crucified, but then miraculously rose again. And that is where our focus needs to be, on our risen Lord. Too much emphasis has been on cute bunnies, multi-coloured eggs and chocolate laden baskets.
Many biblical titles have been placed on Jesus: Lion of the tribe of Judah, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace. Perhaps one of the more obscure references is ‘the lily of the valley’. William Charles Fry (1837-1882) penned a beautiful poem, one that truly depicts His Lordship and His Majesty in all of creation.
“I’ve found a friend in Jesus,— He’s ev’rything to me
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul!
The “Lily of the Valley,” in Him alone I see,
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay
He tells me ev’ry care on Him to Roll.
He’s the “Lily of the Valley,” the Bright and Morning Star.
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.”
Sadly today, Easter has been transformed into a fun-filled holiday, complete with all the trappings of child-like fun. A true celebration is not dependent on an Easter egg hunt, but in finding the nugget amidst the countless distractions. In its simplest form, the Easter message is resoundingly clear: our Saviour died for our sins, and He is risen.
He is risen indeed!