Poll: Celebrating Easter

I’ve never really liked how Easter plays second fiddle to Christmas as far as religious celebrations go. Sure, it seems more natural to celebrate a birth rather than a death, but without the atonement, crucifixion and resurrection, would Christ’s life have been as powerful as we believe it is? Actually, you could argue that His pure and perfect example of how to live was more important than how he died, but in our theology, so much is dependent on those last few days that it is hard to compare the value of Christ’s sacrifice to the miracle of His birth. Both vital and pivotal, but it saddens me that we gloss over not only Holy Week, but very often Easter Sunday itself.

This year, my ward is having stake conference on Easter. I’m sure the speakers will attempt to focus on Christ and the experiences that we believe were necessary for reconciliation with God, but in the past that this has been the case (in my experience) the whole thing falls very flat and is little more than an obligatory mention. There is no sense of celebration, no ritual to put effort into. And without even the opportunity to partake of the Sacrament (as is the case with a conference Sunday), the day can be very lacking indeed.

So in addition to the understanding we have attempted to give our children this week about the various holy days that precede the glorious morning of the resurrection (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday) we are attending a service at one of the cathedrals in our town. We did the same on Christmas Eve and it was a very powerful experience for our oldest daughters.

Please, after you vote this week, share with us what your congregations are doing or have done to celebrate Easter. Have you ever supplemented your worship? Do you feel that the Church is lacking in this area? Or, if you would like a place to do so, please share your testimony of Christ and His sacrifice.

Happy Easter everyone!

Corktree

Corktree is exploring life and spirituality in new ways and new environments while studying midwifery, reiki, yoga, homeopathy, herbology and evolutionary nutrition. She has 3 daughters and one son, which add up to what now feels like an enormous family of 6.

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22 Responses

  1. Duerma says:

    One thing we have always tried to do is have a Passover seder the week before (or earlier, if they don’t quite line up) Easter, and the haggadah we use points out the parallels between each step and the Last Supper. It’s been a powerful way to get us into the mindset for Easter. I’m excited for next year, as I think my oldest girls will finally be old enough to participate (they’ll be almost 7).

  2. Deborah says:

    My little ward had two really wonderful, scripture-heavy, personal talks on the last week of Jesus’ life (the words “Holy Week” were used), and then I got to give the SS lesson on the Woman Taken in Adultery and and the Bread of Life. A Christ-centered Sunday, followed by a family Easter brunch. Good day.

  3. Duerma says:

    OK, returning to this post after just having gotten home from church. The talks today? CHURCH. WELFARE. I mean, really? I was bitterly disappointed, as were my non-member guests. Now I really wish that I had been able to do the Passover seder this year (the couple we do it with just had a new baby so it just didn’t work out), because apparently this Easter is ONLY about the personal meaning I try to inject into it. 🙁

  4. Alisa says:

    I attended both my LDS ward and a Protestant congregation today. I knew the SS lesson at my ward would be on Jesus, but I have learned the hard way that SM at our ward often completely ignores the Easter holiday (even with banning Easter hymns), so we also went where we knew Easter would be celebrated. It was nice to get a double dose of Jesus celebration today.

    • Mraynes says:

      What?!?! Your ward bans Easter hymns? Did somebody forget to tell your bishop that the name of our church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST? This makes absolutely no sense to me.

      • Alisa says:

        It’s a longer story. When I was doing a six-week stint as ward chorister, the bishop was publicly rude, dismissive, and started barking orders when I had suggested that we change one hymn (Before Thee Lord, We Bow Our Heads) to an Easter hymn. It was clear that the chorister had forgotten when Easter was when she picked the hymns. Later, when I related the story to her, she says that she had already talked to the bishop about the need to change that week’s hymns to Easter ones, he just kept refusing for some reason. Why sing about the Resurrection on Easter when you can sing about reverent behavior?

  5. Rachel says:

    48-stake (I think they said 48) conference today. We heard from Elder Ballard, Pres. Uchtdorf, a 70, and Pres. Wixom. There was some Easter-related talk, but there could have been more.
    I wished for the rest hymn we’d sung an Easter hymn, at least.
    On Friday, in lieu of our regular scripture reading while the kids eat breakfast, I read to them from Wiki about Good Friday. My 10 year old finally cued in this wasn’t scripture language and said she liked that way better as it was much easier to follow!
    I think the kids get more of it than the adults because the manuals for the kids have Easter lessons, unlike the grown ups.

    • amelia says:

      Would they do a stake conference like this on the Sunday just before or after Christmas? Or on Christmas day itself? Of course not. It’s terrible that they would do it on Easter, even if there was one talk about Easter. Shame on church leadership for doing this.

  6. amelia says:

    I decided that this year I’m going to celebrate with a walk in a garden to see the beautiful blooms rather than going to church to listen to subpar talks and dragging music. I will say that most of the wards I have lived in did dedicate their sacrament meetings to Easter and when I was in charge of music, we always sang Easter songs for opening, sacrament, intermediate, and closing hymns as well as hopefully a choir or solo performance of Easter music (actual Easter music, not just “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” which although lovely is not Easter music and gets sung so much the rest of the year that I’d rather do something specifically for Easter. I find it terribly sad that any ward in the church would *not* celebrate Easter every bit as much as they celebrate Christmas at church. And church welfare?!? That’s shockingly terrible. And in all honesty a great example of how the church is becoming The Church of the Church of JC of LDS rather than actually continuing to be Christ’s church.

    And on that note, I’m off to the garden.

  7. Janell says:

    Today’s talks: Repentance, the Sacrament, and Fear and/or Mortality (the speaker announced his talk was about Resurrection, but that’s not what he talked about).

    Sunday School: Being Child-Like and Forgiveness

    Relief Society: Pride (and the only mention of Christ was to say that He’s humble and therefore we should be as well)

    We sang 2 Easter Hymns total and the choir sang a number about, “He is Risen.”

    Past precedent indicates we’ll spend more time talking about pioneers on any Sunday in July than we did of the Atonement and Resurrection on Easter. Vey disappointing.

  8. Jessawhy says:

    We did have some beautiful Easter music in sacrament meeting (Mark and his voice teacher sang. They were amazing), but the talks were full of sin and punishment. I hate that story about the little boy who steals a lunch and then the teacher gives his whipping to the boys whose lunch was stolen. It just feels so emotionally manipulative to me. It makes everyone cry, but I don’t think it’s a good cry. I didn’t realize until today that it was from a talk GBH gave. That’s why it gets retold so often. I wrote a note to DH that said, “I hate Easter rhetoric.” I meant that I hate the sinner/punishment part. I made a list of topics I would love to hear about: life, redemption, resurrection, love, compassion, tolerance, etc.

    RS was about faith and character. We also talked a lot about lack of character, temptation, and sin, and how bad it is to hit bottom. But then we come up after we hit bottom. (I don’t remember how much of Jesus was in the lesson, actually.

    I spent SS in the hall chatting with a friend. It was the best part (except for Mark singing) of the block.

    • Ziff says:

      I hate that story about the little boy who steals a lunch and then the teacher gives his whipping to the boys whose lunch was stolen. It just feels so emotionally manipulative to me. It makes everyone cry, but I don’t think it’s a good cry.

      Well put, Jess. I’m not a fan of that story either. But I got to hear it yesterday too.

      I spent SS in the hall chatting with a friend. It was the best part (except for Mark singing) of the block.

      That’s frequently my experience too. One of my sisters (now I can’t recall who–Eve, I think) talked about how she loved the “church of the hallway” because interesting people were often out there skipping class. 🙂

  9. TopHat says:

    Our ward choir sang 2 songs and both talks were on the atonement and resurrection. But our ward choir normally sings 2 songs when it’s their week, so I don’t know if that counts.

  10. LovelyLauren says:

    We had fast and testimony meeting since next Sunday is stake conference. I was rather unsatisfied. Our F&T meetings are always sub-par, though we did sing Easter hymns. Luckily, I teach primary where religious holidays are actually acknowledged and got a lesson there.

    I don’t understand the LDS church’s hesitation with holidays. It has never made sense to me when so many others celebrate Easter and Christmas with so much more vigor.

  11. spunky says:

    I chose “no”, but maybe my answer should have been more of a “mixed bag”. It was my first visit to a new ward, and they hymns were all Easter Hymns- but I could not follow the talks as being Easter related in the least. The Australian version of Memorial Day is April 18, so we sang the national anthem in Relief Society– but I think it could have been nicer to have that in sacrament meeting for one of the hymns and have one talk focused on the national holiday and one on Easter. The SS and RS lessons were also not of Easter or anything special, which was also disappointing.

  12. Rita says:

    We had terrific Easter talks and music today – really lovely. SS and RS were good too – very Christ centered. I do recall some Easters that had been less than satisfying though. One year was the Stake High Council visit and I think they had totally forgotten that their talks were falling on Easter and the music didn’t acknowledge it either – felt totally let down so I can understand some of the comments here. I don’t think the church should schedule Stake or Ward conference on Easter Sunday. General Conference is a little difficult to get around though.

    • amelia says:

      I’m so glad you had such a lovely Easter celebration at church, Rita. It really makes such an enormous difference. When I go to church on Easter and it’s not really celebrated or only barely acknowledged, I leave feeling a little empty.

      It is hard to avoid GC falling on Easter Sunday sometimes. I’d love to see them simply reschedule GC to the following week when it happens, but I imagine that’s pretty unlikely.

  13. Corktree says:

    I have to say as glad as I am to hear that some wards have made more of an effort, I’m sad to realize that as a church we haven’t figured out how to coordinate everyone getting even Easter lessons in SS and RS and PH! We correlate everything else, why not this?! It seems like a no brainer to centralize this very important aspect of worship. Is the Church serving our needs in this way? I don’t personally feel that it is and it has me wondering why we can’t voice our opinions more.

    We went to the Cathedral of the Rockies traditional service this morning and it was the most amazing experience! Beautiful stain glass windows, a phenomenal choir with instrumental accompaniment, and we sang a couple hymns that were even familiar! My heart was so joyous it felt as though it would burst and I felt the Spirit with me in a way that I haven’t at church in a long time. My children loved it too. I was so glad we went and it will definitely be a yearly tradition for us.

    AND there were TWO! women in addition to the Pastor that gave sermons from the pulpit. It was a glorious Easter.

  14. lanwenyi says:

    This is my first major disappointment at Easter.
    My ward usually has a big potluck on Saturday. None this year. The ward council didn’t want to plan it. Some people got together anyway on Friday.

    We got a new bishopric 2 wks ago and got a new SP last week, so I was really looking forward to a meeting focused on the Savior. Nope. Our Easter celebration consisted of the new bishop wishing everyone a Happy Easter and the choir singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and the “Hallelujah Chorus”. The only time I really felt spiritually uplifted was during the “Hallelujah Chorus”.

    The other talks were: youth speaker – being close to our families, both counselors – awed and overwhelmed by love and support in their new callings, new bishop – need for unity and not getting offended. I can’t sit through GD, so I don’t know what was talked abt there, but RS was abt the “Divine Role of Women” (I volunteered to sub in the Nursery instead). The upside was that my kids got Easter lessons in Primary and Nursery. It seems that in my ward, only young children need to talk abt the Savior, His atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection. I felt really let down today.

  15. We had three speakers (youth + two adults, some of our ward’s finest), and all were asked to speak on the Atonement. We originally were only scheduled to have one choir number, but someone who heard me and my brother singing last week in the other ward in our building said we should do a reprise, so there were two musical numbers: “Because He Lives” duet, and “Consider the Lilies” by the choir. I was also asked to sing a solo during the Music Moment in RS, so I did D. Fletcher’s “Weepin’ Mary” there. The lesson was ostensibly about BKP’s talk from the last conference, and I confess I dozed off during a large middle section. Towards the end, though, the (sub) teacher had asked a couple of people to talk about specific examples of how they had felt the power of the Atonement working in their lives. They spoke quite movingly, one about her father’s suicide when she was 10 and her first husband’s downward spiral and (unsuccessful) suicide attempt many years later, and the other about not the Atonement, per se, but the ability to lean on Jesus for comfort during times of grieving (a very popular girl in our area who had been friends with her children recently died after a short fight with a virulent cancer, and her funeral was last night).

  16. alex w. says:

    This year the Easter sacrament meeting was unusually awkward because my dad gave the last talk. My little sister agreed with me, it’s weird to have Dad speak in church because it happens pretty infrequently and we’re always afraid he’s going to say something about us. Haha.
    But the music was good, although a little overenthusiastic: both the ward choir and the primary sang. Personally, I’d go for just the primary singing, because I’m a sucker for all those little kids trying to stand still and not wave at their parents while singing about Jesus. 🙂

  17. Faye says:

    Corktree, Thank you for bringing attention to the obvious difference that is given to both of these events.
    I too wish that there was a way to have a celebration that embodied the greatest gift we’ve been given.
    I live in the Bay area and was fortunate to attend an event that was presented in alliance with the Catholic church and the Temple hill orchestra and choir, called the Lamb of God. It was beautifully presented alternatively at both churches.
    We attended the one in Oakland at the Catholic cathedral across from Lake Merritt.
    The Lamb of God was beautifully composed by a very young member of the church and the oracle of dialog was on par with Les Miserable for its drama, moving music and words. I was feeling that this should have been offered to the church members world wide somehow.
    It was truly the highlight of my year for a spiritual lift.

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