Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 20, 2014

Vasicek: Celebrating Easter

By Ed Vasicek
Guest columnist

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I have shared a few bits of Easter humor over the years, so I thought I’d start with a new one.

Joseph of Arimathea was the wealthy Pharisee who is famous for helping to bury the body of Jesus. He procured the body, asking Pilate’s permission, and, with the help of Nicodemus, another Pharisee, he helped to wrap the body of Jesus and then they placed the body in his new tomb. Both Joseph and Nicodemus were influential men, serving on the Jewish ruling council. The Bible indicates Joseph (and probably Nicodemus) had come to faith in Jesus. This information is found in the Bible (John 19:38-40). With that information, you can appreciate the following joke!

Joseph was known for being a shrewd businessman and some asked him how he could give away an amazingly expensive, rock hewn tomb. Why would he do such a thing?

Joseph smiled and asked, “Why not? He only needed it for the weekend.”

Today is a special day for those of us who embrace the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and agree that he only needed the tomb for part of a weekend! To my friends of other faiths and beliefs, I wish you a happy and good day as well!

People within Christendom celebrate Easter (and the week leading up to Easter) in a variety of ways. For example, “President Obama begins his week Monday in a contemplative mood. Obama participates in the annual Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House.

“'Christian leaders from across the country will join the president at this breakfast to pray and reflect on Holy Week and Easter,’ says the White House schedule.” [source: USA Today]

Many folks attend the church of their choice on Easter morning. Folks who may not attend church all year are more likely to do so on Easter Sunday than any other Sunday. Most churches gladly welcome visitors to their Easter services. Over the years, I have seen more than one “Easter only” attender eventually become a joyful regular attender. But even though this usually does not happen, it is a shot of adrenaline for a church family to see a packed crowd.

How do we Vasiceks celebrate the Easter season, apart from Easter Sunday church? That depends upon the era of our lives. When our children were with us at home, we would enjoy a Good Friday leg of lamb dinner. I would read the Scriptures that picture Christ as the Lamb of God, we would enjoy the garlic-rosemary seasoned lamb (served with mint jelly), minted peas, and baked potatoes. After dinner, we would have our version of a Passover Seder. We would take three matzohs (unleavened bread sheets), hide the center one, and let the kids search for it. The child who found it was given a prize, and then we celebrated family communion with that matzoh (which we believe represented Jesus) and grape juice. The wife baked a cake in the shape of a lamb (from a mold) every year, and we would import chocolate lamb candy from the Chicago area (it is, sadly, unavailable here). Then it was off to church Friday night for the Good Friday solemn service.

On Saturday, we would dye Easter eggs. The wife would secretly pack Easter baskets with chocolate eggs and bunnies. The kids knew we hid the baskets early that morning; we taught them that the bunny was fictional.

Now that the kids are on their own in other states, our celebration has changed. We still participate in our Good Friday service, but we eat the lamb with good friends on Easter Sunday afternoon. Since we have to watch our cholesterol, Easter eggs are a precious memory. I tried it with egg beaters, and it just doesn’t work (OK, just teasing!).

Although the nature of our celebration has changed, our faith and joy has not. If you are a parent and embrace Christianity, let me encourage you to make sure your family understands what we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@comcast.net.