What is a 21st century, nutrition-minded, progressive church thinking in sponsoring an Easter Egg hunt? What do eggs have to do with resurrection anyway?
The Venerable Bede may have gifted us with the goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre, back in the 700s. Eostre’s traditions may even date back to Ishtar in ancient Babylonia. Eostre’s ancient fertility symbol, eggs, were simply folded into the pagan/Christian mix of “oh, why not?” like evergreens and a donkey at Christmas.
At least Santa has some attachment to St. Nicholas who was a real, fourth century, church person, who did gift people in secret. Nicholas just got adapted over the years by a poetic professor, newspaper editor, soft drink manufacturers, and an economy that soon became based on Christmas and fourth quarter earnings.
So, back to Eostre/Ishtar and eggs. Why bother if it isn’t even Christian?
Cue the fiddler--because it is tradition, and traditions hold us together--especially in pandemic times. Maybe even more than we care to admit. I remember the smell of vinegar while coloring hard boiled eggs at my mother’s kitchen table, and with my children at our kitchen table. I remember churches smelling a bit too much of lilies, and helping my dad slice ham for my grandmother’s Easter dinner. Tradition.
I’ve smiled at many parents who are far more enthusiastic about their toddler finding a plastic egg than the child, who is still focused more on just staying upright. But the parent is also remembering Easter traditions and celebrating another milestone with their child.
And theology? Personally I can see Jesus at an egg hunt cheering the children on, pointing the overwhelmed child toward an egg the others have missed. Jesus would keep an extra egg or two in his pockets to hide just for the child who has arrived late.
And I can certainly see Jesus wanting young children to understand Easter not in terms of victory over humiliation, torture and death, but in terms of pure joy in new life. As the hymn says, “Every Morning is Easter Morning.” What if we lived everyday as if our basket were full of our favorite chocolate eggs? And what if that joy happened with our church family?
To maintain social distancing, you must sign up for the 2021 Plymouth Easter Egg Hunt. I’ll see you Saturday, April 3 between 10 and noon. It’s BYOBM (Bring Your Own Basket and Mask).
We can make Easter a celebration of joy that passes understanding, even in this crazy time of pandemic.
Tricia Medlock is returning to the interim position she held between Plymouth directors Sarah Wernsing and Mandy Hall. After leaving the Plymouth staff, she served as director of Children’s Ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal for four years. Read more.