Question: What is new or noteworthy in books for Easter? I seem to gravitate to the same titles and ideas year after year. I’m particularly interested in looking beyond Easter as an event in time, to Easter as a season and even a way of incorporating the Easter message in our lives.
Sue Says: I’m so glad you asked. I can think of several books for different ages to tell you about. If you are searching for material for small children, try This Is the Mystery of Easter (E Dre), by Amelia Richardson Dress, a UCC pastor, parent, and writer. She says she developed this material because she “needed a better way to talk to kids about Easter and there’s no way to talk about Easter without also talking about the crucifixion.” It is, she says, a mysterious story, but it also reminds us “that no matter what happens, no matter how hard things are, we are with God and God is with us.” She doesn’t attempt to explain the mystery, but instead to proclaim it.
John Dominic Crossan is always thought provoking, and his book Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision (235 Cro) is no exception. This is oversized (9.5 inches high), beautifully and copiously illustrated in black and white with four color plates. In fact, in his introduction, Crossan calls the work “images discussed by texts.” The visual imagery and camera work are from Sarah Crossan, and the couple has worked on this book for some 15 years.
The discussion is fascinating, presenting two theological visions of the resurrection (he points out that it is not actually described in detail in any of the scriptures). In one vision, Christ rises in triumphant and transcendent majesty, but also in isolation. That is, Christ’s resurrection is his alone. This vision has, according to the Crossans, become the official Easter icon of Western Christianity.
The second vision presents the universal resurrection tradition, in which Christ raises all of humanity in his rising. A visual shows the icon of Christ, standing on the gates of hell and holding the hands of others as he rises from the tomb. In Eastern Christianity the standard image is communal and collective, and in a world where violence escalates and seems to be on a trajectory toward annihilation, the universalist Christ offers a “parable of possibility and a metaphor of hope.” Crossan emphasizes the idea of universal resurrection, raising all humanity, as “remedial education” for his western audience.
The Crossans suggest that undertanding the resurrection in this way raises profound questions about forgiveness and morality, as well as a different way of understanding this central act of our faith.
You are all familiar with the collection of activities for various seasons edited by Sharon Ely Pearson. This one covers Lent, Easter, and the Easter season – Faithful Celebrations: Making Time for God from Mardi Gras through Pentecost (263 Fai Lent).
Pearson reminds us that, “…baptism is an Easter Theme; as baptized Christians we take time during Easter to ponder the meaning of membership in Christ’s body, the Church. We look at events in the church’s life – the sacraments, the accounts of the resurrection, and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus – to discover their meaning and what they tell us about how we as a community are to live the life of the Risen Lord.”
The activities she suggests are certainly appropriate for Easter itself, but also for the season. She even suggests constructing a calendar to get them all in. There are tips on storytelling, baptism skits, as well as suggestions for worship and for meditation.
It is often said, “Remember your baptism,” and Faithful Celebrations shows us ways to do just that, no matter how long ago or recently we were baptized. We might think about ways that water gives us life, for recreation and renewal, for survival.
Another lovely resource drawing on the idea of mystagogy and ways of living into our baptismal vows is Klara Tammany’s Living Water: Baptism as a Way of Life (234.161 Tam). This lovely book from 2001 appears to be out of print now, but we have two copies in the Resource Center.
It is well worth keeping in mind the series title of the Pearson books: ”Making time for God.” Do that, for yourselves and for those you influence and those you love. Remember your baptism. Happy Easter.