I am not sure when it started, but at some point along the way I began to really dislike the Easter Bunny.
Maybe it was the lack of real animation or character in some “store bunny” that I witnessed as a child. In lieu of the humanity of Santa, (a relatively real person with a face that could speak when he chose to), the Easter Bunny had a big white styrene head with unmoving mouth and eyes and plastic ears that looked more like a donkeys than an actual rabbit. It was clear even to a toddler. The Easter Bunny wasn’t quite right.
But taking the short view, which small children tend to do, one could get comfortable with the fact that this big rabbit would leave candy upon one’s doorstep. And while not the stuff of Halloween (which he seemed to have some odd connection with) it was candy nevertheless. Call it cheap forgiveness but at age 6, I probably would have traded my sister for a Nestles Crunch Bar.
Does all of that make sense? If not, I apologize. Keep loving your bunny.
There is also something about extra “church formality” at Easter that has always bothered me as well. As a child I never liked the idea of putting on “nice clothes.” They were stiff and confining and didn’t lend themselves to the natural activities of children. But eventually such attire became part of the ritual that is my preparation for worship, and now I feel less than fully “prepared” whenever my schedule keeps me donning a tie at a mid-week service.
But there is something about Easter that doesn’t seem to go with added formality. Maybe it’s because as a Christian it is “the thing” – the moment where all other moments are given their meaning. Less the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the claims of any Christian are just so many more good stories with some nice moral lessons attached. Aesop’s Fables do the job nearly as well, and are perhaps a whole lot more memorable. As a moralist alone the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and any number of Shao-Lin Monks might be said to be the equal of Christ.
But as a Christian, Easter is it. And the pain and suffering of God himself in Jesus stretched out upon the cross for the very worst of humanity seems to beckon: “Leave everything else at the door – come as you are before me, let nothing distract you – for in the gift of my love in Jesus I have given you all that I am . . . ”
One’s best clothes may help prepare some of us for worship on any given Sunday, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of that truth. A truth that finds its full expression at Easter.
Which is, perhaps, exactly what is so bothersome about that bunny. He’s a distraction in the midst of “all the news that is news” – the greatest and only moment in creation truly worth remembering and celebrating and to have that thing hopping around on the sidelines of it all is probably the last thing we should be distracting our children with.
There. I said it. The Easter Bunny needs to hop his way into history.
But he won’t. And just like millions of other American Christians, I’ll accept the distraction as something we can live with, and as long as my children enjoy it there will likely be four little baskets with pink and green grass as fake and plastic as the Bunny himself.
Eventually, they too will wind up measuring the value of such a tale as they wait for their own children to consider the ultimate truth and mystery of Easter. And like me they’ll probably wonder why they continue to perpetrate the whole silly bunny thing themselves – and why at Easter, when we celebrate the universal moment of God’s gift of himself, that we are the slightest bit concerned about what outfit we might be wearing.
But ultimately it won’t much matter. Because in the end the great Apostle was right: “Nothing can set us apart from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.”
Not even the Easter Bunny.
Stuart Revercomb is the Pastor at Peace Presbyterian Church in Roanoke and is normally not such a curmudgeon. Come visit them on the web at peace-church.net