May we celebrate Easter?

The Catholic Church allowed for, and perhaps encouraged, the adoption of some of paganism’s spring fertility symbols, and they have become a part of many Easter observances. This is the origin of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies, for instance—both the egg and the rabbit were fertility symbols. The very name Easter is probably adapted from the name of the goddess Ishtar. Things like this go a long way toward explaining why some Adventists react strongly against Easter.

Though in some respects I share their concerns, I do not share their solution. Mrs. White was opposed to our adopting all the trappings of the Catholic Church and her daughter churches, and most Adventists will agree with Mrs. White about this. But there is never a time when it is inappropriate to acknowledge and glory in the death and resurrection of our Lord, and, it seems to me, especially not on the Easter weekend.

In my days as a church pastor, I always preached a sermon on these things on the Sabbath before Easter Sunday. If that should be the time when a Christian of another denomination entered my church for the first time, I did not want him to conclude that Seventh-day Adventists ignore the pivotal event of the Christian faith—the death and resurrection of Jesus. At the same time, I do not think it is necessary or helpful to try to make our churches as much like the other churches as possible, with the same decorations, banners, ceremonies, etc., as they use. But we can focus on the real significance of those long-ago events. Just as Ellen White counseled people not to ignore Christmas but to discard the elements of it that do not honor Christ, I believe this should be our aim with Easter.