Easter is the most Holy of all holidays for the Christian. It is the day that we remember Christ rising from the dead, displaying his victory over sin and reconciling sinful humanity with the Holy God. There is nothing more serious, nothing more important. It is the heart of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, there is no victory over sin, no salvation, no eternal life. It is a serious holiday, remembering a serious act, that solved a serious problem. It would seem that we would have a desire to take this holiday seriously.
Yet, when I was singing in my evangelical Church on Easter Sunday a few years ago I realized that there wasn’t the gravitas that one would expect to commemorate such an event. The music had the same pleasantly happy tone that it has every week.
I thought of an example that I often use with my students; I don’t just listen to Christian contemporary music. I listen to a range of contemporary music and older music such as Gregorian chant. The reason I don’t just listen to contemporary Christian music is because that genre fails to deal with the breadth of emotion that comes with being human. I think the same is often true of our Sunday worship. The Psalms display a tremendous breadth of emotion but on Sunday morning we sing “happy, happy, smile, smile.”
But on Easter, this seems so disjointed for me. We are worshiping the Thrice Holy God who laid down his life as a sacrifice for us. Where was the gravitas? The origins of the word worship mean “to prostrate” ourselves. To get down on our faces before the one true God and acknowledge his sovereignty over us. Instead, even on Easter, we sing love and kisses to our holy buddy.
I am not saying that there isn’t a time for a lighter worship style. Jesus called his followers friends. But, he is still the God for whom Moses took off his sandals to stand on holy ground.
There is a time for everything. There is a time for the type of happy worship choruses that we typically sing in evangelical churches. But, there is also a time for gravitas. How would it feel if we went to a 9/11 memorial service and the music was the type of music we typically sign on a Sunday morning? Would it not feel out of place? Would it not feel like we have not given the proper respect to those who died on that day?
Easter is a day of joy. It is not Good Friday. We are celebrating the rise of Christ not commemorating his death. There should be joy. At the same time though, Christ paid a terrible price which should sober us. There is a seriousness to the day. It isn’t just Easter bunnies and Pez candies. It is death and life and hope all because of the tragic price that Love paid for us.
This essay is from our Anastasis Series where we resurrect articles from the past that are either still relevant today. This piece was first published on March 28, 2016, and has been lightly edited and updated.