Today is Easter Sunday. Easter means so many things to so many different people. For some it is a secular holiday where we decorate our homes with flowers, rabbits and chicks. We hide colorful eggs, and eat our chocolate bunnies. Many eat the ears of the chocolate bunny first while others save them for the end. For some it is a deeply religious holiday, celebrating the death and physical resurrection of Christ, the miracle and gift that saved Christians from their sins. For many Christians it is a more important holiday than Christmas. Some of us might remember that Easter is the day of the year when we can again wear white pumps rather than black pumps to social occasions. This white-pump season will continue until Labor Day, when we must put our spring and summer shoes away for the year. Not many folks follow those old rules anymore, especially in Alaska, but they can still be found in the etiquette books. And for others Easter is still a religious holiday, but one where we celebrate the idea that the message of peace and love spoken by Jesus of Nazareth did not die when he died and could not be silenced by his crucifixion. It is reassurance that our best works can also live on after we are gone. We all can have immortality though the legacy of our words and deeds.
What seems to be common in most Easter celebrations is the theme of new life. These themes include resurrection, life after death, life springing forth from the egg, the return of the sun and warm days. The name Easter comes from the name of the ancient Germanic spring Goddess, Ostara or Estre, who was the bringer of new life this time of year. The date of Easter moves around each year and follows the lunar calendar. Easter is not the same day every year, but it is always in the spring when the sun begins to return.
What do we do in this season of new life and renewal? How do we pay tribute to this holiday of life? I think that is different for everyone. It varies with what we see as important in our lives. Some see service as most important where others see devotion as the key to a well lived life. Some folks just want to enjoy the time they are given. But I do think we are charged to notice the new life all around us at this time of year. In Alaska we are a little bit behind the rest of the country in terms of our garden calendar, but soon we will see new buds sprouting on the trees and small plants will come out of the earth. The bears will wake up and show the world to their new cubs. The sun of longer and longer days will shine on the water. This change of the season reminds us of the cycle and sacredness of life. It reminds us to celebrate and be thankful for our lives and all the life around us.
I wish you a Happy Easter, in whatever way Easter is important to you. I also wish you appreciation for the fullness of life and all the blessings that come with it. Life and renewal are truly gifts to be appreciated and this special season reminds us to do just that.
• Schurr is the minister of the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.