Poking Sacred Cows: Part Four
Category : Glenda's Soap Box
Remember when I finished the blog entitled, “Poking Sacred Cows, Part Three”, and I said I had a few more sacred cows to poke? I think it is time to poke one again.
I am choosing, and I hope wisely, to examine a holiday that is probably going to be a little on the ‘close-to-home’ side. For all the zealous lovers of tradition, it may be time to gird your proverbial loins. I will surely lose some that have been avid readers of my soapbox blog, but do it I must.
The topic of the blog is going to be the major holiday that Christians celebrate each year in the Spring that begins with the letter "E". Why would I not just mention the name of the holiday? It seems like such a harmless word, a word that we have heard spoken every year since we were knee-high to a bullfrog.
I am glad you asked! There is some controversy about the meaning of the name of that holiday. Some say it comes from many different words, one of which is the name of a false god (goddess). Some people might say this is not the case. Exodus 23:13 indicates that we should never allow the name of a false god to enter our mouths. Either way, I am going to err on the side of caution and not use that name. From this time forth in this blog, that holiday will be referred to as the E-holiday. That is what my husband and I call it when we are talking together.
Speaking of false goddesses, one particular goddess comes to mind. She was given different names (one of which is very close phonetically to the E-holiday but begins with an "I") when ancient civilizations (Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian) adopted her into their own culture. What area of life was she said to influence? Fertility, being preeminent among many. Without speaking in bad taste, it should be relatively easy to guess how her followers worshipped her. (There was even another pagan festival nine months later to take care of any 'problems' that were birthed out of the Spring festival.)
It is said by some sources that this entity was celebrated at sunrise at the time of the first full moon after the Spring equinox, on a Sunday. When is the E-holiday celebrated? The first full moon after the first day of Spring, on a Sunday. Strange coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
What are some common symbols that represent fertility clearly? Eggs? Rabbits? Is any of this sounding familiar?
In the book of Ezekiel 8, it speaks of those that secretly brought idolatry into the very Temple of the LORD, the place where the One True God is worshipped. Into this holy place, false gods (from the culture of that day) were being worshipped and idolatry was being practiced. It is one thing to do that in an intentional manner, but even if you do it unknowingly, the result would be the same.
One of the things mentioned specifically is "women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz" in Ezekiel 8:14. Who was Tammuz, and why was weeping for him so disgusting? For any who are interested in knowing more, you can simply Google this name and find out more than you ever wanted to know. If you do, you may recognize one of the names of his mother.
The E-holiday is currently celebrated by contemporary Christianity as the resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. This tradition is so well established that it is believed to have begun with His resurrection and instituted by His apostles in the 1st Century in commemoration of that event. But actually, the apostles kept Passover until the mid 2nd Century when a debate broke out about separating Christian celebrations from Jewish ones.
For some reason around that time, the powers that be thought it would be a great idea to initiate a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and combine it with the Spring festival the pagans celebrated to welcome Spring and fertility. It was most likely an early attempt to 'Christianize' a pagan holiday. Maybe they thought they could infiltrate the pagans while they were worshipping their false gods and stealthily transform it into a celebration that honors the resurrection of the Son of the one true God.
Hundreds of years of history and tradition can reveal how successful that approach has been. Not very. We as Christians have (unsuccessfully) tried to incorporate the holy with the unholy, and what we have produced is a bizarre mixture of two things that will not, nor should ever be, combined.
Contrary to popular belief, the holiday that surrounds us with decorated eggs and bunnies (who coincidentally bring the eggs) along with many other unusual rituals was not instituted by God, but it would probably be more correct to say that it has more in common with Babylon.
What exactly does biblical history tell us was one thing that would raise the ire of a holy God? Idolatry, particularly when people thought it was a good idea to mix together the worship of idols, along with the worship of the one true God. Syncretism, pure and simple. And it is ugly and offensive and has been an invitation for judgment on more than one occasion.
In contrast, the celebration of Passover is an entirely different story. The source of this celebratory meal is God Himself. It was HIS idea! Because the Christian church has been almost completely and thoroughly sanitized from all things Jewish, Passover is very foreign to us, which is exceedingly odd to me. After all, the last meal that Jesus and His disciples shared together before He was crucified, was a Passover meal. So how foreign should that be? Jesus was, after all...I don't know an easy way to say this...Jewish! Is it wisdom to count as precious, what was precious to Him? And, if He longed to celebrate Passover with His disciples, wouldn't it be reasonable to think that He just might want us to at least understand what Passover is all about?
Or, we can continue in the direction we are going and try to justify why we are hiding brightly-colored eggs for our children to find just days before we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, just because we have done that for generations.