Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Diet

Day 45 of 46 c Lenten Season 2010
Passion Week - Good Friday

Show and Tell

Eggs? Ugh – I don’t like them.

I know they’re an essential ingredient in all sorts of foods I love, but by themselves, eggs have never appealed to me. Their indistinguishable flavor may make them ideal for baking, but doesn’t do much for their appeal as a solo delicacy. Their texture – no matter how they’re cooked – resembles cooked or shredded rubber erasers to me. Their odor – well, let’s just say there’s a reason the gas company doesn’t pump strawberry-flavored chemicals into gas lines.

While growing up, our family’s Saturday breakfast tradition involved Dad preparing bacon and eggs, and while I’ve always enjoyed bacon, getting those eggs from my plate to my belly was torture. I remember sitting alone at the kitchen table, everyone else long since finished with their breakfast, leaving me with two puffy cheeks bulging with unswallowed egg.

Which may be one reason I'm prejudiced against the egg when it comes to its use in the observance of Christendom’s holy celebration of Easter. I can't blame the Druids or other pagans - after all, scant historical evidence exists to prove the “Easter egg” comes exclusively from pagan tradition, as has been widely assumed. The early Catholic Church may well have adopted some pagan practices involving eggs for their observance of Eastertide, but even then, too many cultures around the world had already established the egg metaphor in their beliefs and rituals. Aside from these inane, cultural, "traditional" Easter egg connections, though, I'm puzzled at this apparent need Christians have to mix the profane with the divine.

The Incredible Edible Egg

Indeed, being an almost universal commodity, eggs have provided sustenance and fable-fodder for many religions and people groups. And you have to admit that despite their disarming ubiquitousness, eggs represent an amazing dimension of Creation. That such a relatively tender membrane as their shell could protect and provide nurture for the developing animal inside seems incredulous. And then to watch the baby whatever-it-is break its way through the only home its ever known helps to validate the imperative for life, for opportunity, and for mobility.

It's not wrong to recognize the metaphor for new life represented by the humble, remarkable egg.

So of course, a lot of people see no problem in the evangelical church hitching up their Easter programs to something egg-themed. How many churches in your community have had – or will have – an egg hunt this week? Even my own dear church here in Dallas will be sponsoring an “Egg-stravaganza” outreach tomorrow in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. After all, why waste a good opportunity to incorporate a popular cultural symbol with one of our holiest observances?

Does the Recipe Call For Eggs?

Well, of course, using eggs to help portray the Easter story won’t automatically land any believer in Biblical peril. God does look at the heart and evaluates our actions through His piercing lenses of grace. However, doesn’t He also expect us to preserve and promote the holiness of His Gospel? Hasn’t He equipped us with the ability to evaluate and either approve or disavow methodologies that do or don’t contribute to our glorification of His divinity? What is the extent to which we can incorporate the frivolous with the sacred? To what degree do we try and add our own efforts to His salvific power, even under the guise of evangelism?

For people of faith who have addressed these considerations and resolved through prayerful evaluation the potential trivialization of the story of salvation with the egg, I'm not trying to pull the holiness rug out from under you. This issue stands as one of the extra-Biblical practices we talked about on Monday concerning liturgy. God can use anything to bring people to Himself, even if we make mistakes in the ways we proclaim His Gospel.

However, if as I suspect, many people of faith just think opinions like mine represent a stodgy, anti-fun, legalism-lover mentality, and they haven't considered the risks they run of marginalizing the Resurrection, then maybe they haven’t been disciplined enough to take their discipleship responsibilities seriously.

Think about it: metaphors can assist in explaining complicated concepts. But metaphors can also become the object of what is being explained. For example, the crucifix is a metaphor for the crucifixion of Christ, but a lot of people have incorporated it into jewelry and yard art without ascribing any of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement to it. The same is true of the Ichthys fish – and how many drivers with those on their bumpers drive like bats out of you-know-where? I won’t even go into the fallacies of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.

Easter Doesn't Need Props

Back in the mists of time, when my brother and I were kids, our parents would give us Easter baskets with chocolate eggs and toys, but along with the trinkets and candy we got a loving sermonette about why we were making a big deal about Easter. The idea? Our parents wanted us to celebrate the day, and the way kids in our culture celebrate things is with candy and toys. But our folks didn't want the material side of the celebration to outshine the glory of the day's doctrinal significance.

Christ has arisen from the dead, securing eternal life for all who believe in Him!

If you've been able to read that sentence with a simple air of indifference, then you're in no condition to celebrate anything this coming Sunday! If you can't at least muster a glad "amen!" under your breath, maybe Easter eggs are all you have to enjoy when the rest of us are commemorating Resurrection Sunday.

If that is the case, then may I humbly encourage you to consider the claims of Christ found in the Biblical book of John. And look at the photo in today's Show and Tell - a picture of one of the famous Faberge eggs, although not of the imperial series. This is the "Resurrection Egg," the only Faberge treasure named for what this day represents: the resurrection of Christ from the dead. In this delicate scene, the power of eternal life defeating eternal death can be seen as Christ stands triumphantly over an empty tomb. By claiming victory over sin and death, the Son of God provides the means by which believers in Him can have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, God Himself.

Since Christ has secured the salvation of believers, there's nothing more we have to do except have faith in Him as the Son of God.

"For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life." John 3:16

Feast on this in your heart this weekend... it's cholesterol-free!

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