He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
With Easter Sunday quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some interesting facts about this special holiday and its connection to the United Methodist Church. Here are five fun facts you may not know:
- Easter is a “holiday” which comes from the words “Holy Day.” The word “Easter” comes from the Old English word “ēastre,” which means “spring” or “dawn.” We rejoice on Easter because the darkness always gives way to the glorious light of dawn and, thanks to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, death is not the end.
- One of the most well-known Easter symbols is the Easter egg. Plastic Easter eggs often contain candy, but empty Easter eggs remind us of the empty tomb.
- Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. During this time, there are special worship services and events to commemorate Jesus’ journey to the cross. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are known as The Easter Triduum.
- In some United Methodist churches, the altar is draped in black on Good Friday as a sign of mourning for Jesus’ death.
- One of the most popular hymns of Easter, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). Charles was a prolific hymn writer and the brother of John Wesley. The work of the Wesley brothers helped to spark a revival that eventually became the United Methodist Church.
- Throughout the history of Christianity, Easter used to be a more popular Holy Day than Christmas. The celebration of Christmas fell out of popularity in the Western world after it was almost entirely wiped out by the Puritans, who believed that it was celebrated with too much raucous partying.
- In the Gospel According to John, Mary Magdalene is the first person to witness the resurrection of Jesus and to share that Good News with the disciples. As such, a woman was one of the very first evangelists. In the United Methodist Church, we ordain women clergy. In 2011, 25 percent of United Methodist Clergy in the United States were women.
- In the United Methodist Church, Easter and Christmas are the two most important Holy Days of the year. On Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.
- Christmas is always on December 25th, but the date for Easter changes based on the lunar calendar. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means that Easter can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25 each year.
- Easter isn’t just one Sunday, it’s an entire season! There are 7 Sundays of Easter, starting with Easter Sunday (also known as Resurrection Sunday) and ending with Pentecost Sunday. The period of time between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday is referred to as Eastertideor the Great Fifty Days.
Easter is a time of joy and celebration for Christians around the world, including United Methodists, as we gather together to worship, share in fellowship, and remember the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We hope these fun facts have given you a deeper appreciation for the significance of Easter and its connection to the United Methodist Church. I encourage you to celebrate this wonderful Holy Day in Christian community by attending a worship service near you. Or, if you find yourself in Central Pennsylvania, we would love to welcome you at one of the two churches I serve! Happy Easter!
About the Author: Rev. Rebecca L. Holland (M.Div.) is visually impaired, Filipino clergywoman ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church. She is the pastor of two congregations in Central Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on the intersection between faith and disability theology. She is the author of Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse, The United Methodist Church and Disability, and Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God’s Grace. She is currently working on project that focuses on interpreting Disability Theology from a Wesleyan perspective. To stay up to date with her work, please subscribe to this blog by typing your email address into he box labeld “subscribe.”