A few Sundays ago I confessed to a number of parishioners that I did not know what the word "Easter" meant. (Actually, I once knew, but forgot!) Then people began asking me, "So, have you found out yet what Easter means?" Fortunately, a resourceful member of the church took it upon herself to do the research, and then presented me with the results. Here's what she found:
Eostre was a pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess. She was the ruler of the sunrise and spring. The word "east" comes from her name. Meanwhile, from the Jewish tradition, it is the Passover feast that takes place each spring. Pesach is the Hebrew word for Passover, and it is from which we get the term Paschal Feast (which refers to Holy Communion).
Passover celebrates the Jews being delivered out of bondage in Egypt and directed to a new life in the Promised Land. For Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means deliverance from the bondage of sin and death (i.e., alienation and separation from God) and a kind of rebirth into new life in Christ, which entails spiritual reunion with God and subsequent co-operation with God's redemptive activity in the world.
Anyway you look at it, Easter is about renewal. The Season of Easter lasts 50 days. This is a fertile time for all of us to discover the many ways God in bringing renewal into our own lives individually and collectively.
Many thanks to Nancy Davis for being my Easter researcher! --Fr. Abshire