2016-03-25 / Faith
Leaders discuss meaning of Easter
The Rev. Dr. Maureen Hoyt
Center for Spiritual Living, Westlake Village
“From my perspective, it’s an opportunity to crucify an old idea that no longer serves us and resurrect a new idea that holds the promise of a seed planted in the soil of the subconscious mind.
“As the new seed thought begins to germinate and take form, there is the anticipation of good tidings of great joy.
“New beginnings with new thoughts create a God-ordained new life.”
The Rev. Gifford “Giff” Smith Jr.
United Church of Christ
“Easter is about resurrection. When we think of Easter, we think of Jesus resurrected to new life after his death. The resurrection of Jesus was not, first of all, a belief, but rather an experience, an experience of hope, renewal and new life for the early Christian community.
“The reason I celebrate Easter year after year is not just because a resurrection happened, but the resurrection continues—it’s going on today, in your life and mine.
“Every time I see two spouses embroiled in seemingly irreconcilable differences forge a path to forgiveness, or a young person engulfed by the downward spiral of drug addiction or alcoholism finally surrender and ask for help, or two people on opposite ends of the political, social or economic spectrum eventually join in common purpose for peace and reconciliation, there’s a resurrection going on.
“There is a wonderful spiritual saying: ‘The holiest place on earth is when an ancient hatred becomes a present love.’
“There’s a resurrection going on! Right here and now! That’s what Easter means to me.”
“‘He is risen,’ announced an angel, the most beautiful declaration to me, as a follower of the master Christian. And why? Because it celebrates Christ’s glorious victory over death. This is the essence of Easter.
“Yet Jesus’s great achievement was not without agony and sorrow. What touches me deeply is that, through his total reliance on God’s infinite power, the cross he carried to his crucifixion enabled him to exchange the crown of thorns for the majestic crown of spiritual rejoicing.
“The Book of Hebrews says that God anointed Jesus with the oil of gladness above his fellows, because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This inspires me. Three occurrences in his life set him apart from every other person: He was born of a virgin; he was without sin; and he overcame death. I think all Christians honor him in that uniqueness with gratitude and praise.
“So why was he crucified?
“The attitude of cultural conceit and hatred of the truth he taught inflamed the elite of his time. He threatened their authority, their pride and their power. He must be stopped. How did this man of peace respond? Right there on the cross Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’
“After three days in the tomb, Christ emerged the champion of heroes. He had laid down his life for all mankind and conquered death.
“Today the words ‘He is risen’ give impulse to the ascending footsteps of his followers, reaching for the freshness of a new and more spiritual life.”
The Rev. Dave Heney
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Simi Valley
“Easter means His crucifixion was not the end . . . as His Roman executioners hoped.
“Easter means his love is stronger than death . . . and so his love for me cannot die.
“I often say, ‘Have a happy Easter!’ That phrasing is no accident. Easter for me is not looking back nostalgically to an event 2,000 years ago. Easter is about my having the resurrected Jesus in my life today, right here and now.
“Jesus changed everything when He rose from the dead—and He certainly changed me.
Have a Happy Easter!”
—Compiled by Kyle Jorrey