I drove home from service this morning, and as I was driving by the Catholic church (which is packed out most Sunday mornings), I watched the parishioners begin to pile out of the church, and I noted that it was a little more crowded than normal. It's to be expected, I guess. It's just a little surprising. Because my experience is that Easter has very little real meaning anymore.
I found this article on the Net this evening. In a poll given in Britain a few years back, participants were asked questions about Easter, about it's meaning, and about Biblical events leading up to, and surrounding, Easter. The results were disheartening, but not really surprising.
According to the report, only 48% of those people polled could correctly identify that Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. A sample of answers to the following question were:
Q. What do Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday?
A. Chocolate...When He rowed into Jerusalem waving palm trees...Christmas
Yet churches are so well-attended on Easter. How is it that such a vast majority of people visit church on Easter, yet have no earthly idea why they're attending? It's certainly become more a tradition than a real desire to celebrate the greatest event, to date, in the history of mankind. Why is that? What's cause this perceived decline in understanding and reverence for such a meaningful event?
I'm tempted to fall into the old cliche "what has our country come to", but I think that's a little unfair. A nation is really an aberration; it's not real. The attributes of a nation or a society are really no more than a summation of the attributes of it's members. The culture, our environment, is not a creation of the "country", rather, it's the sum total of the actions, beliefs and habits of that country's citizens.
Which, in reality, makes the notion of a "country" somewhat dangerous. Ask yourself this: how many times have you, personally, said something to the nature of "what is this country coming to?". You've done it, haven't you? We all have, because at some level we've been lulled into thinking that the "country", our "nation" is bigger than we are individually. When in reality, the beliefs, patterns and values of the "nation" are just OUR beliefs, patterns and values. And if we feel that those beliefs and/or values are skewed as represented by society as a whole, it's because we, personally, aren't doing our job in correcting those patterns.
You see, the notion that the "nation" is going downhill is simply an excuse for not taking personal responsibility. It's far easier to say that the nation is in moral decline than it is to attempt to spread my particular flavor of moral integrity about, hoping for it to overtake our collective culture, for it to yank our nation back from the precipice of near certain disaster.
That's right: if our nation is truly in moral decline, if we, on the whole, have no idea what Easter means, it's because we aren't doing our job. I'm chagrined, I'll be the first to admit. After service this morning, I asked a whole slough of people to join us at the park this evening for a little party. I explained the true meaning of Easter to no one.
My point is simply this: we spend far too much energy "tsk, tsk"-ing the state of our country, but the blame extends to our individual, and collective, front doors. I'm to blame; I've done nothing to try to spread about the true meaning of Easter.
Are you to blame too?