Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… This next week we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour. This Sunday, we will begin our Easter worship services with the words, “He is risen!”
However, before Jesus rose, He died.
An organization in Britain called - "The
Churches Advertising Network" - -
unveiled a fairly unconventional Easter ad campaign a few years back. They said it was designed to take the “churchiness” out of the Easter holiday. Among the symbols being dropped in the campaign was the symbol of the cross. It was dropped because it was considered too “churchy” by this new breed of church advertisers. They had not removed Christ from Easter, as was the case with Christmas, but they did think it wise to ditch the cross.
Rev. Richard Thomas of Oxford said, “With this ad campaign we have tried in a very stark way to focus on the resurrection and not the death of Jesus. In Christian circles, they are talking about a need to educate people about the allegory of Easter and, in doing so, the symbol of Christianity — the cross — becomes a victim.”
The cross is a victim?! Go figure!
We live in a society fixated on living forever, youthfulness, and new beginnings. The spirit of resurrection sounds great in a society fixated on these things. Who wants to talk about or be reminded of death, blood, suffering and being nailed to a cross? That’s such a downer! Think positive, eh?!
But does Easter have any real meaning without Good Friday?
Pastor Rick Warren wrote that throughout the 1990s, marketers reshaped the Mexican food craze. By 1996, it was a $1.6 billion industry. Pillsbury (of the “dough-boy” fame) bought up a pile of companies and put the industry on steroids. A “watered-down” version fit to suit North American tastes became the norm. Industry experts call it “gringo-food”. Bib Messenger of the magazine Food Processing said: “…the gringoization of Mexican food will continue. In twenty years you won’t even recognize what they’ll be calling Mexican food.”
In business there is profit in watering down a strong, even offensive, flavour. But, to do that to Easter, as our Oxford Reverend suggests, spells disaster. There is a “gringo-Gospel” out there in churches that is simply not the “genuine-Gospel”. It’s not the real thing.
The hot, spicy, even offensive themes of the cross, if removed, takes away the power. The gringo-Gospel may be soothing to the taste, but it’s powerless to save. You take the cross from Easter and all you have left is the Easter bunny. No hope, just a little hop!
To think that the cross needs to be removed from Easter to make the message more palatable to Canadian tastes is a fool’s game. Easter loses its power without Good Friday. There is power in death.
The great 16th century reformer, Martin Luther, was once reading the account of Abraham offering Isaac (Genesis 22) on the altar. His wife, Katie, said, “I do not believe it. God would not have treated His son like that!” Luther replied, “But Katie, he did.” We have experienced birth because Jesus experienced death, or as the Apostle John wrote:
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV).
Have a blessed week, Steve Jones
Our 2015 Fellowship theme verse is:
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (NLT)