Is Easter Just About the Peeps?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
--Romans 6:4 NRSV
While grocery shopping this week, I noticed the leftover Easter candy was on sale. I felt a combination of relief and disappointment seeing that the Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter Easter eggs were sold out--I’m trying to eat better but I’m like Golum with the One Ring when it comes to those things. The marshmallow Peeps just laid there looking like they were hungover frat boys after a keg party. Scattered among the pitiful remains of Easter candy, they looked like a poor imitation of their pre-Easter glory. Those Peeps reminded me of the Sunday after Easter.
In the twenty years I’ve been an ordained minister I can testify to the fact that there is no sadder Sunday than the one that follows Easter. On Easter Sunday, church attendance swells--not to the levels of a generation or two ago but significantly higher than the average Sunday nowadays. I, along with every minister I know, just can’t help but feel hopeful that the crowd might come back next Sunday; even though we know better. The next Sunday’s inevitable low turnout always disappoints; again, even though we know better.
The story of Jesus shows that people are fickle. People show up for a Palm Sunday parade but are out for blood just days later. The disciples pledge to be faithful but end up abandoning or denying Jesus. The crowds love a good miracle but fade away when Jesus’ teachings get too difficult. You’d think ministers who claim to read the Bible would understand this truth. There may still be enough cultural significance to Easter to get people to church on Easter Sunday (for now, at least), but it’s much more difficult to make disciples who want more out of Easter than Easter candy.
All of us know that candy amounts to empty calories. It provides a sugar rush but no nutrition, a brief trigger of the brain’s pleasure centers but no real sustenance. Peeps don’t provide much that lasts (neither do Reese’s peanut butter and chocolate eggs). Similarly, singing Allelujah on Easter Sunday alone doesn’t make for a life of meaning or purpose.
The New Testament describes the resurrection as an ongoing reality rather than a one-time event. We mystically join in the new life God offers where death has lost its power and we are open to the joys of life all around us. The resurrection is not just a line in a creed, a box to be checked on a list of beliefs but a new reality where we are changed and so is our worldview.
On the Sunday after Easter, I look around to see who has shown up. I can spot the folks who come to church because they never miss a Sunday and it is part of their routine. Similarly, I can spot the folks who come out of a sense of obligation or even guilt and shame. Who I’m really looking for, however, are those who showed up because the resurrection has seized hold of them and they are experiencing the world God made in all its fullness. Those are the ones who bypassed the candy aisle in favor of something that truly lasts.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
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We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.