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Posted 4/7/12 at 2:59 PM | Peter Mattice |
Every Christian knows the story: Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. But what did he do on Saturday?
That question has spurred centuries of debate, perplexed theologians as learned as St. Augustine and prodded some Protestants to advocate editing the Apostles' Creed, one of Christianity's oldest confessions of faith.
Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and most mainline Protestant churches teach that Jesus descended to the realm of the dead on Holy Saturday to save righteous souls, such as the Hebrew patriarchs, who died before his crucifixion.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the descent "the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission," during which he "opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him."
An ancient homily included in the Catholic readings for Holy Saturday says a "great silence" stilled the earth while Jesus searched for Adam, "our first father, as for a lost sheep."
Often called "the harrowing of hell," the dramatic image of Jesus breaking down the doors of Hades has proved almost irresistible to artists, from the painter Hieronymus Bosch to the poet Dante to countless Eastern Orthodox iconographers. FULL POST
Posted 4/7/12 at 11:13 AM | Peter Mattice
Heres pt.4 in my series on Easter. The Easter egg hunt.
For children and adults alike, the highlight of Easter is often the egg hunt. Adults and older children enjoy hiding Easter eggs for young children to find. Squeals of delight can be found as Easter egg hunters retrieve colorful eggs, candy, and other small prizes. But you may be wondering exactly where did this delightful tradition begin? To understand this annual egg hunt, it is critical to understand the origins of the Easter egg.
The Easter egg carries with it a history of traditions and beliefs. Throughout the ages, the egg has been a symbol for fertility and re-birth, as Easter has been derived from the ancient pagan spring festivals. For many people the fun of Easter is to decorate these eggs in creative ways. They are also given to friends and loved ones as presents, and have come to represent a token of friendship. Various traditional games are played with the Easter eggs, such as the annual egg hunt.
Modern tradition has the Easter bunny hiding the eggs. Contests are also held among the children, to find the maximum number of eggs. In some communities the local Easter egg hunt becomes a large event, where thousands of people participate. While the fun of Easter hunts continues, no one appears to be exactly sure of where the tradition actually started. FULL POST
Posted 4/7/12 at 10:15 AM | Peter Mattice
Many people are wondering what Easter actually means, as the true meaning of Easter has been lost. What I can tell you is it isn't about cute little fluffy chickens, nor does it have anything to do with Easter bunnies. It isn't even about Easter eggs. Although an egg can represent 'new life' because new life hatches from the egg and Jesus was resurrected on the third day – giving us new life in Him. But just like Christmas, the real meaning has been forgotten. For those of us who are Christians, we understand what Easter is all about. But for those who haven't experienced this 'new life' in Jesus, I want to share with you the Easter story.
In Old Testament times, the priest would bring bulls, goats or a spotless lamb without any blemishes to be sacrificed as a sin offering for himself and for the people. The blood would purify and make atonement (forgive, make amends) for their sins. This was the old order of atonement. When Jesus came, He was a representation of the sacrificial lamb to take away the sins of the world. He was the final sacrifice. We no longer have to sacrifice animals to make atonement for our sins. Jesus has done this once and for all. It's His blood that cleanses us from all sin. He was crucified on the cross (the form of execution in those days). The sin of the world was upon Him, yet He was without sin and blameless. He bore it all. This is why Jesus is referred to as the 'Lamb of God'. He was bodily resurrected (came back to life) on the third day. He appeared to many – eating and drinking with them. He appeared to them for 40 days, then ascended (went up to) Heaven. Acts 1: 1-11
Posted 4/6/12 at 3:22 PM | Peter Mattice
Here is part 3 of the history of Easter. this time we talk about the oh so important Easter candy.
The days are longer, the sun is brighter, the colors are rich, and the candies are pastel. It's springtime for many parts of the world once again, and in celebration of its triumphant return we enter into the saccharin sanctity of a world filled with Marshmallow Peeps, Jelly Beans, and other well packaged bits of sweetness sure to bring about a sugar-induced coma.
Easter has risen high in the candy hierarchy over the years. It is now the second top-selling candy holiday, just barely behind the glorious ode to sugar that is Halloween. Of the estimated 8 billion pounds of candy consumed in the United States each year, Easter makes up a very large portion of the pie.
Americans spend an average $1.9 billion on Easter candy every year, just behind Halloween which consists of $2 billion worth of candy spending. Christmas and Valentine's Day bring up the rear with $1.4 billion and $1 billion respectively. So how has it come to be that so much money is spent on sugary colored marshmallows? FULL POST
Posted 4/6/12 at 11:15 AM | Peter Mattice |
I gave you the origin of the Easter egg in an earlier post now I give you the origin of the easter bunny.
The Easter Bunny derives from an ancient association of hares, rabbits, and eggs with the fertile season of spring. Since rabbits and hares are prolific breeders that often produce large litters in the springtime, and birds lay their eggs around the same time, both have served as symbols of fertility in Western Europe since antiquity. The Easter Bunny combines these two events in the form of an egg-laying rabbit that heralds the season of new growth and life after the barren winter.
The Easter Bunny seems to have started in Germany, where it is discussed in writing as early as the 16th century. German folklorist Jakob Grimm also wrote about German Easter customs in the 19th century, linking them to an ancient holiday known as Ostara, possibly also the name of a pagan goddess. In Western Europe, the Easter Bunny is a hare, called the Osterhase in German. Dutch settlers brought this tradition to the United States in the 18th century. FULL POST
Posted 4/6/12 at 10:16 AM | Peter Mattice
It may seem relatively natural to many that Easter should indeed be a set accepted date for the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as the landmark for many other religious festivals. So why is it that the date changes every year? Why is it so hard to keep track of when Easter will be celebrated? In fact, Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th, which is a span of 4 weeks difference. It's also been noted that eastern orthodox churches seem to celebrate Easter on a different date to western churches.
In western Christian beliefs, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday that follows the Paschal Full Moon date of the year. Essentially, this means that Easter is always celebrated on the first Sunday immediately following the first full moon of spring ("the vernal equinox"). However, this thinking changed when western churches decided to put a more formal system into place for determining the date of Easter. In actuality, the date of the Paschal full moon is not determined by lunar events but instead by historical tables. Astronomers approximated the dates of the full moon in future years and the Christian church used these dates to form their calendar of events. Although it has been modified slightly over the years, the 1583 AD table for determining full moon dates, and therefore Christian festival dates, has remained largely the same and has now been permanently established. As a result of this, the Easter Holiday is celebrated anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th each year. The Paschal Full Moon date can vary by up to two days from the actual full moon date. FULL POST
Posted 4/5/12 at 12:53 PM | Peter Mattice
What is this country coming to now we want to take the word "God "out of God bless America.
There is a petition on line. The petition states this '
We the undersigned demand that the song and phrase "God Bless America" not be recited, sung or displayed in public schools, government buildings and institutions, or written on official federal and state government documents and letterheads. "God Bless America" is recognition of the Christian deity "God" as well as instigating prayer in the line "As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer" and is therefore a violation of the separation of church & state as defined by the United States Constitution. It is a hurtful, divisive message to the Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, Indigenous, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist & other religious and secular Americans and is not what America and Democracy is about. We must not allow the Christian fundamentalist minority to exploit the September 11 attacks to push their religious Dogma to the public and turn the war on terrorism into a "Holy War". So we ask that ALL Americans' rights and freedoms of religions be recognized. FULL POST
Posted 4/5/12 at 10:14 AM | Peter Mattice
You have to read the article above to believe this one. Part of my ministry is to feed the homeless on skid row in Los Angeles. This is appalling.
I would like to see how Houston pd would arrest church groups who as part of their ministry to feed the homeless.
Most people who feed the homeless do it because they want to now The Houston city council says if you do that you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. I am also glad to hear that citizens and some non-profits are going to fight this stupid idiotic law. I think the citizens of Houston should vote those council members out who voted for this law.
I am also curious to hear what if anything Joel Osteen would say about this. I know as a pastor this law even though doesn't affect my ministry upsets me. Not all the homeless are homeless by choice. Some of the homeless are homeless because they lost their jobs and lost their homes in the housing crisis. FULL POST
Posted 4/4/12 at 10:26 AM | Peter Mattice |
Easter eggs are specially decorated eggs given out to celebrate the Easter holiday or springtime.
It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: "Omne vivum ex ovo". This means "all life comes from an egg". Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America to the west coast of South America, there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life. The concept of all living beings born from an egg is also a foundational concept of modern biology.
But how did eggs come to be associated with Easter?
Despite claims being made that Easter Eggs were originally pagan symbols, there is no solid evidence for this. It was not until the 18th Century that Jakob Grimm theorised a putative pagan connection to Easter Eggs with a goddess of his own whom he named Ostara, a suggested German version of Eostre. FULL POST
Posted 4/3/12 at 9:01 AM | Peter Mattice
The story of what we call Palm Sunday is good reading. Jesus is approaching Jerusalem. He sends disciples to find a colt, which is waiting for him, and then he mounts and rides into Jerusalem to the acclaim of crowds spreading cut branches and their cloaks and branches. In Mark's account he then enters Jerusalem and the temple, looks things over, and retires for the night before returning the next day to drive out the money-changers. In the gospels of Matthew and Luke he drives out the money-changers immediately after entering the city at the head of a triumphant procession.
Luke's gospel contains one other significant difference. As he enters Jerusalem, Jesus stops and weeps for the fate of the city. John's gospel places the entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of his ministry rather than at the end. In the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus goes to Jerusalem only once, at the end of his ministry. But in John's account he goes there many times and enacts his "symbolic destruction" of the temple the very first time.
I call his act a "symbolic destruction" of the temple, because it is an attack on the temple itself. It is not merely a cleansing of corruption from the temple. Under Jewish law the money-changers are not doing anything wrong. They are not necessarily cheating the people. By selling animals without blemish for sacrifice and changing foreign money into Jewish shekels, they are helping Jews keep the commandments. FULL POST