Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ways and Means

Questions about Easter traditions arise each year at this time. For example, regarding the easter bunny - this is interesting:

The ways in which Christ overwhelms the world with his new message of Grace have sparked debates for hundreds of years. I've read stories of Christian missionaries who used different tactics to present the gospel. Sometimes this involved a form of cultural genocide - an attempt to wipe out the indigenous culture to replace it with "Christian Culture." (i.e. most native cultures in North America). These sad efforts usually included a lot of mis-guided political and economic motives as well. (the movie The Missionary presents all this dramatically - highly recommended.)

In other cases, the missionaries employed existing culture to explain Christ. I think we first see this in the bible when the council at Nicea agreed that Gentile believers did not have to be circumcised. They were actually agreeing to the changes God himself was bringing about.

Taking it one step further, some scholars I've read say that this is also where the old covenant practices arose as well - i.e temples, priests, sacrifices, holy days etc... The Israelites demanded some way to worship this invisible God (just as they later demanded a King like their neighbours had). They wanted "special" ceremonies and such like their pagan neighbours. So, God in his infinite wisdom, allowed it - for a time.

Ironic isn't it, that in many ways, the new covenant brings us full circle back to the kind of relationship Abraham originally had with God. A face-to-face friendship based on communcation and love rather than religious "stuff." Fascinating. So fascinating.