Sunday, February 24, 2008

N.T. Wright on Easter

I have been casually perusing N.T. Wright's latest book, Surprised By Hope and I particularly enjoy his thoughts on the celebration of Christmas vis-à-vis Easter.

The first notable quote:

...Christmas itself has now far outstripped Easter in popular culture as the real celebratory center of the Christian year--a move that completely reverses the New Testament's emphasis. We sometimes try, in hymns, prayers, and sermons, to build a whole theology on Christmas, but it can't in fact sustain such a thing. We then keep Lent, Holy Week, and Good Friday so thoroughly that we have hardly any energy left for Easter except for the first night and day. Easter, however, should be the center. Take that away and there is, almost literally, nothing left (23).

The second:

Take away the stories of Jesus's birth, and you lose only two chapters of Matthew and two of Luke. Take away the resurrection, and you lose the entire New Testament and most of the second-century fathers as well (43).

I agree with Wright and am anxious to see what he says later in the book. I do wonder how much of this has to do with consumerism in general. Christmas is clearly the biggest holiday within the church but also outside it as well. Easter has never caught on as much as a consumer holiday. The last point does not however, justify Easter playing second fiddle to Christmas. If the resurrection is the center of Christian existence, should not Easter at the very least take its respective place next to Christmas?

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