By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Is Easter going the way of Christmas and becoming another consumer event? Local pastors said that even with competition from the Easter Bunny and egg hunts, the basic, 2,000-year-old message of Christ’s resurrection remains significant.
Pastor John Drexler of First Brethren Church of Goshen said the message of the resurrection of the Savior hasn’t changed, but unfortunately the significance of the holiday is not observed as much as it has been in the past.
“It’s candy and egg hunting now,” Drexler said. “The message has moved from the resurrection of Christ, to more of the hope of spring and fun. People aren’t giving the same reverence as they once did, like when I was a kid.”
Drexler said he recalls attending services during the week leading up to Easter, often several hours at a time.
“The message is the same — we have a risen Saviour — and that’s what separates us from other religions,” Drexler said. “We have a risen Saviour.”
The pastor says he has recently seen a resurgence in attendance. He has noticed the attendance seems spread out over the year rather than just twice a year, at Christmas and Easter, as it has been traditionally in the past.
“I will preach the message (Sunday) on the resurrection,” he said. “It’s our primary message — we have forgiveness of sin because of our risen Saviour.”
Some churches have incorporated egg hunts for children following their Easter services today or host them for community members prior to the holiday.
“It’s a way to bring in people,” said the Rev. Anna Parkinson at First Presbyterian Church in Goshen. “It’s true, how culture has changed some. I think everybody likes Easter. They highlight different parts of it. Some people look at candy and the Easter bunny. Christians look at the resurrection.”
Parkinson said that Christians “kind of stole” the holidays (Christmas and Easter) from people in the ancient times when they were nature-based festivals.
“Christians reinterpreted them,” Parkinson said. “We are celebrating the reason of his resurrection and need to remind people of why we do (so).”
Marilyn Rudy-Froese, pastor at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church in Goshen, shared her opinion of the holiday.
“Easter seems pretty commercial. The stores get candy and cards out right after Valentine’s Day. For the stores, it’s absolutely commercial. They do not focus on the death of Christ,” Rudy-Froese said. “It has definitely seemed that way in recent years. Whatever will make money and sell.”
She said it’s a pluralistic world in her opinion and she doesn’t expect the world to buy her faith or anyone’s faith, for that matter.
“You have to claim the story (the resurrection of Jesus) and be part of the Christian faith to claim that story,” Rudy-Froese said. “It’s a religious holiday and Wal-Mart is not going to sell faith. The consumer center is not part of that faith. I do expect to find it in my church and put myself in those places where I will find that (faith).”