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It's Easter in America

I just interviewed 10 children. And, all 10 of them agreed: Easter is about ... (drum roll) ... candy!

That's right. The high point in the Christian calendar has officially been overrun and co-opted by Mars Candy Corporation.

This all began when I started talking to Ms. Juliette January, the director of our daycare who was born in the Caribbean. She was telling me how much more Easter was recognized and celebrated in her native land: Good Friday and the Monday following Easter were both recognized as national holidays, bars and stores were closed, families would gather for large meals celebrating the ancient story.

But what did Juliette discover when she came to the United States? Answer: bunny rabbits, candy galore and - for good measure - chocolate bunny rabbits. She could not believe what she saw.

I knew she was right. But, I couldn't resist polling the kids. One by one, I asked them, "When I say the word 'Easter', what do you think about?" And, one by one, the looked at me with certainty and a glimmer of delight in their eyes. "Candy!" one girl shouted. "Jelly beans!" came another answer. And over and over again, I heard about the sure promise of sugar in all its glorious forms: chocolate, crystallized, gummy-nated. To these children, the first thing they associate "Easter" with is confections of delight that will last them maybe a week ... maybe.

There's more. I pressed further, asking them, "What else do you think about?" The answers varied this time. One girl had been promised a new Hanna Montana video, another said "eggs".

I even tried to get the children to see the symbolism of the egg ... "Okay, think about it ... what comes out of an egg?" I was hoping for "baby chickens" or "chicks". I got: "candy!" Again with the candy! But, I persisted: "No, no ... listen, out of an egg comes a new life ... a baby chick ... who else comes to life on Easter?" Thankfully, I did not get, "The Easter Bunny." But, unfortunately, they did not respond at all.

Now, let me make myself clear. I am not holding the kids in judgment. I don't blame them at all, in fact. But, I do think this poll sheds some light on us - and I mean "us" as in Americans who call themselves Christians.

And, lest you think I'm being a zealot, let me say that I too was raised on the gospel of Hershey's. I too connect Easter with mounds of chocolate. I celebrated many Easters much more pleased with the sure promise of chocolate than the abstract promise of forgiveness of my sins and new life.

I'm also sure someone way, way back had nothing but good intentions and decided to connect the sweetness of Jesus' resurrection with cocoa, cream and sugar ... but the connection has been severed.

But, thankfully, there are those who still hold on to the true sweetness of Easter. Over the years other people have introduced me to other gospel in Easter ... the Gospel: That Jesus Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty ..."

We have been given an awesome responsibility: to raise our children with knowledge of God's works of salvation. We have been commanded to do this (Deut. 6). And, for a good while, that's what we did as Americans. We passed on our faith - one generation to the next. But, then we begin to assume that since everyone already knew the story we wouldn't have to spend too much time worrying about passing it along. Our kids would get it as easily as they get flouride from the water. It would just happen. And we began focusing on other things to pass on and sell ... like candy bars and even worse things than that. And, lo and behold, we have built whole empires that now compete with the Kingdom of God (if you think I'm going to far, check out Mars' website: www.mars.com)

And after you check that out ... let me ask you this question: "Are we as committed, organized and dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ as Mars Brand foods is to selling candy?" Well, of course not. And, that's partly a good thing. Jesus made sure to say to us that the Kingdom of God won't look like the powerful "kingdoms" (or businesses or brands) of the world (Mark 4:30-32; the parable of the mustard seed).

But, still, it's worth pondering again ... what are we doing to pass along the good news of Easter? Will our children have anything to hang onto after the sugar-high has passed? Do they know there's more than candy? And can we tell them about the sweetness that lasts and leads to eternal life?

Wes

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