Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Easter

Bunny blues

rabbit-2414359_640.jpgIt was time to go back to school after the Easter vacation. I had put away my parka and winter boots. There wasn’t but a tiny bit of green here and there, but the snow was gone, the road was dry.

I crossed the highway and David came bouncing with excitement from the narrow pathway through the trees that hid his grandmother’s house from the road.

“The Easter Bunny brought me a whole bunch of eggs, red and yellow and blue, some chocolate, some filled with marshmallow and a chocolate bunny and . . . ”

He stopped and looked at me, “What did the Easter Bunny bring you?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? Why didn’t he bring you anything?”

I had enough sense to know I shouldn’t tell this strangely immature eight year old that  there was no Easter Bunny. Just then an opportunity presented itself to say what seemed in my eleven year old mind to be the next best thing. We had come to the railroad tracks and there in the ditch lay a dead jackrabbit. I pointed to it and said “It looks like the Easter Bunny didn’t make it as far as our place.”

Well, I guess that was about the worst thing I could have done. David gasped, his eyes grew wide and his lips quivered. “But, but, who is going to bring me Easter eggs next year?”

What now? I didn’t want to be responsible for a red-faced sobbing boy appearing at school. A thought came to me. “You know David, I bet that there’s always another bunny ready to fill in if something happens to the Easter Bunny.”

David stopped beating the air with his fists and gasping for breath. Pretty soon we were talking about other things and all was well by the time we got to school.

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“This Child Will Break Your Heart” – 5 Parenting Lessons From the Mother of Jesus — Striving Nigerian Mom …Parenting With Purpose

“This Child will break your heart!” How about that for an opening line? As I was just pondering on the season of Easter, for some reason, my mind went away from Jesus for a bit, and I thought about Mary, His mom. And for some reason, my heart was heavy, just thinking about her. For […]

via “This Child Will Break Your Heart” – 5 Parenting Lessons From the Mother of Jesus — Striving Nigerian Mom …Parenting With Purpose

Twice a year isn’t enough

I went to the barber shop a few days ago, feeling a need to get myself spiffed up a bit before attending the gatherings that happen at Christmas time. A lot of other men seemed to have felt the same urge at the same time, as there were six ahead of me.  There were another six waiting their turn when I stepped out of the barber chair a half hour later,.

This is an old fashioned barber shop, not one of those fancy men’s hairstyling places. Grant takes five minutes to do a good looking haircut and keeps up a running conversation while doing it.

One of the men ahead of me had an unruly mop of black hair on his head and a bushy black beard on his face when he sat down in the barber chair. Five minutes later he stepped out of the chair with a brush cut and a moustache.

I thought to myself that this guy probably only needs to visit the barber shop two or three times a year. I could save myself a good bit of time and money by following his example – but I don’t think my family would approve. This man himself may have been under some family pressure to make himself look more presentable for Christmas.

Are there still folks who go to church twice a year? When I was a boy there were people who appeared to feel drawn to attend a worship service on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve) and Easter Sunday, but not at any other time of the year.

I think it’s good that folks want to commemorate those two important events in the life of our Saviour, but I don’t think it’s enough. That is kind of like getting your hair cut twice a year.

The importance of being doers

The men who had been with Jesus were of a dismal mood that first Easter morning. They had believed everything He had told them, except for the really strange parts. Now this. Wasn’t Messiah supposed to cast out their uncircumcised overlords and restore the kingdom? They came together to discuss what to do next, or if there was anything left to do.

The women had something to do. They had gathered all the supplies needed for their task and they left for the tomb early in the morning to prepare their Master’s body for a proper burial. They were just as disheartened as the men, but this one thing they had to do.

Thus it was the women, the doers, who came to the tomb, found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, saw the angels, heard their message. One of them, Mary Magdalene, heard Jesus speak her name.

The women raced back to where the men were to tell them the wonderful news that the Master was alive. The men didn’t believe them. Nevertheless, Peter and John went to the tomb to find out for themselves just what had happened.

It all rings true, doesn’t it? If the men had wanted to invent a story about a man who had died on a cross, then came back to life, wouldn’t they have written in a more heroic role for themselves? All the details of the story bear the unmistakable stamp of truth. Their highest hopes crushed by the death on the cross, their bewilderment and feelings of hopelessness.

The only thing that could have turned their despair into joy and invincible courage must have actually happened. They met the Master whom they had seen perish on the cross, had seen the blood and water pour from his side, and He was alive again. They could touch Him, feel His wounds. He walked with them, talked with them, cooked them a meal.

Now all the really strange parts of His teachings made sense. His kingdom was something much greater than they had been able to imagine, and He commissioned them to carry the good news of the kingdom into all the world. They became doers, many of them died because people didn’t want to hear their message. Other people took their place and the message is still being told and still changing lives.

How long was Jesus in the tomb?

Matthew12:40 — For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Those are the words of Jesus, stating clearly that He would be in the tomb for three days and three nights. His crucifixion and burial took place on a Friday, the day before the Sabbath, and He rose early in the morning of Sunday, the first day of the week. How does that add up to three days and three nights?

Many people have wrestled with that question and concluded that the crucifixion and burial actually took place on a Thursday; I have even read some who claim it must have been Wednesday. These folks have done their calculations carefully and appear to have unassailable logic on their side. Obviously, the idea that Jesus died on Friday is just a figment of somebody’s imagination in the far distant past. Except . . .

Not everybody thinks like we do — not even in calculating the passage of time. When I began to learn French, I discovered that if I wanted to meet somebody a week from today I would have to say “in eight days.” If I said “in seven days” he would be there a day before I would. What is going on here? Well, I am writing this on a Wednesday and to the French mind it makes no sense to skip today when counting the days to next Wednesday. Today is not over yet, so I must count today and all the days up to and including next Wednesday. That makes eight days.

In the beginning that was incomprehensible, completely ridiculous, to my mind. Who ever heard of such a thing? Well, guess what? My way of thinking was equally baffling and harebrained to French-speaking people.

And French-speaking people aren’t the only ones who think like that — the writers of our Bible, Jews and Greeks, thought exactly the same way. For people who see things that way, it is perfectly logical that the period from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning perfectly fulfills the prophecy of three days and three nights.

Someone might object that there were only two nights, Friday and Saturday. That again depends on how we look at things. We say last night was Tuesday night, but I got to bed just after midnight so all my sleep happened after it became Wednesday. If something newsworthy happened during the night, a French language newspaper, in order to be precise, would describe it as the night of Tuesday to Wednesday.

The way we see things is so blindingly obvious to us that it never even occurs to us that other people might see things in a completely different way. A generation after the Vietnam war, Robert McNamara came to the stunning conclusion that “those people don’t think like we do.”

George W Bush led the USA into a war in Iraq, thinking that the people over there would be overjoyed that the USA had come to liberate them. France refused to join this adventure, knowing full well that the reaction of the people in Iraq would be much different than Mr. Bush expected. Things might have turned out better if the US had asked the advice of the French instead of vilifying them.

These profound differences in the way people view events around them are something we need to be aware of when we attempt to share the gospel. We have framed the gospel in terms that make sense according to the paradigms of our own culture. We should not be too quick to assume that people of another culture have understood what we told them and rejected it. In all likelihood, their first impression is that we are trying to convert them to our culture. That can serve as a roadblock to further attempts to share the gospel. It would be better to take the time to learn their way of thinking and frame the gospel in terms that fit their understanding.

Spring fever

In books, spring always seems to come in a rush. Homesteaders on the prairies, or trappers in the northern bush, endure a long harsh winter, their food  and their firewood have almost run out and the snow is so deep they can’t get out to replenish their supplies.. Then one day they notice something different in the air, a warm breeze begins to blow and the snow melts  away in a matter of a few days. Well folks, I have to tell you the awful truth — it just doesn’t happen like that in real life.

I have to admit though, that when we lived in Ontario my rose-tinted memories of prairie life went much like what I have read in books. In south-western Ontario spring comes early; around the beginning of March the snow melts, the rivers run free and everything is wonderful — until the next big snowfall. I learned the hard way to expect three big snows after I thought spring had arrived.

Our first spring in Ontario, one day at the end of March or the beginning of April, I was in the M&M convenience store in St. Marys. The street sweeping machine was going down the street, picking up the dust and gravel left by the snow which had been gone for several weeks already. A customer in the store remarked that it was about time to clean the streets. Dick McPherson, the owner of M&M, suggested that they had probably waited until they were sure there would be no more snow. Everbody had a good laugh at that. The next morning there was six inches of fresh snow on the ground.

Here in Saskatchewan spring began three weeks ago. We had lovely mild, sunny weather, above zero temperatures and the snow rapidly began to disappear. After a few days it turned cold again, with about half the snow left and several light snowfalls adding to it. Monday morning the temperature was -22° Celsius.

Now it seems that spring may be here to stay. The temperature was up to 4° yesterday and there were puddles in the yard again. The forecast is that by Tuesday the temperature will be up to 14°.

I have another memory from my childhood about the timing of spring. I’m not sure anymore how much to trust those memories, but as I recall, I could never ride my bike to school before the Easter holidays, but I always could when school began after Easter. It was that way whether Easter was early or late. This year, Good Friday is two weeks away and we still have lots of snow left, perhaps there is something to it.

Our cats definitely have spring fever. With the longer days they want to be outside a lot more, but it’s still too cold for them to stay out for very long. Have you ever noticed how a cat is always on the wrong side of a door? That’s definitely the case at this time of year. We are getting spring fever, too. Even though there’s not a hint of green on the lawn and our garden is still under a couple feet of snow, I am getting anxious to get things ready.

How long is three days?

To begin this discussion, let me ask: How long is it from now until the same day next week at this time?  Sounds like a dumb question doesn’t it?  If you are English-speaking, the answer is seven days.  To say anything else would be ludicrous.

But.   If you are French-speaking, the answer is equally obvious, yet different — it is eight days from now to the same day next week at this time.

You see, in English we treat this as a question of mathematics, subtracting one date from another and come up with seven.  A Frenchman counts every day, starting with today and ending with the same day next week.  He is not concerned with whether it is a full day or not, but in his way of thinking one cannot ignore today, because it is not finished yet, and one must also count this day next week, because it will have already begun.

To a Frenchman this is the only sensible way of considering the question, but an English-speaking person finds it almost impossible to wrap his mind around such a concept.

The point of this little mental exercise is that the people in Jesus’ day thought about a period of time in precisely the way that French-speaking people still do today.  Really, it is we English-speaking people who are out of sync with the way people thought in Bible times.

Jesus’ prophecy that he would spend three days in the tomb is a stumbling block to the English mind, giving rise to various fanciful explanations of which day Jesus really died.  People have gone to great effort to find evidence for their speculations; I have encountered seemingly logical arguments for both Wednesday and Thursday.

In this case, the simplest explanation is the best.  Jesus did indeed die on Friday and rise again on Sunday.  The people of His day would have had no problem understanding that being in the tomb from late Friday afternoon to very early Sunday morning perfectly fulfilled the prophecy of three days in the tomb.

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