Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Thoughts on Dead Bunnies

I promise this will be shorter than the last. But one more thought has been gnawing at me since last week's screed against unhealthy marketing techniques employed by churches in their desire to get people in their doors.

Think about the language employed in that postcard - "Bunnies stay dead. Jesus didn't." Those are fighting words. Those are combative words. Those aren't hopeful words, but judgmental words. They point fingers at all those families out there who think Easter is about bunnies and candy and egg hunts, and they say "you're wrong! Easter is about Jesus!"

Now, don't freak out on me. I firmly, 100% believe that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, late of the grave but now residing enthroned in heaven, awaiting the day of his return to earth. Bunnies and eggs and candy can be, and often are, a distraction from the more important message of Jesus.

But that's insider language. That's language we use when the Church gathers; we remind ourselves that our hope lies in the fact that "He is Risen!" And yes, the message of resurrection can and should enter into friendly conversations when the opportunity arises. This is not a message Christians should keep to themselves.

In other words, I believe when we are gathered, we can challenge each other to keep Jesus first and foremost. And when we're in the company of no-church-goers, if the opportunity presents itself, it can be appropriate to share our hope in the resurrection of Jesus.

But that's not what's going on here. "Bunnies stay dead. Jesus didn't" is just another way of saying "We're right and you're wrong!" This isn't an invitation to anything so much as a criticism of those families and their silly Easter bunny traditions. It's too easy to read this as "We know the truth about Jesus, but you only have your bunnies, so neener neener."

By criticizing the (mostly harmless) celebrations of the people in the community, the church is actually building walls, drawing lines in the sand, creating division where it ought to be building bridges.

I'm reminded of a quote by John Fischer, in his book What on Earth are we Doing?

"Non-Christians today think that many Christians are out to get them, not because they are lost and need to be found, not because they are lonely and need a friend, not because they are dying in their trespasses and sins and need to be saved, but because they are wrong and need to be either set straight or defeated."

There are a lot of families out there just struggling to get by. Families desperate for traditions and moments of togetherness. I know a couple of single moms who are working incredibly hard to build memories for their kids; often, those involve longstanding family traditions like coloring eggs and going on Easter egg hunts. Moments of joy are few and far between; Easter bunnies and Easter eggs are one of the rare moments of frivolity in their otherwise difficult lives.

And suddenly, in the mail one day, out of the blue, comes a postcard saying "You're doing it all wrong! You're a failure for playing with bunnies, when Jesus is the real reason for Easter!" Just what part of that is Good News?

I know, that "Jesus didn't" is supposed to be good news. But the best news, delivered in the wrong way, is still a bitter pill to swallow.


Lori Lamb said...

I couldn't agree more. You can't shame or argue people into the Kingdom. If your approach is "you're wrong so get in here and listen to the truth," you are not welcoming, you are coming off as "We are superior." We are all sinners. We all need Jesus. If we have found Him, let's spread the Good News with joy. Notice I said "spread", not "beat."

An invitation to come to church should be...well, inviting. We should be inviting people because we want to share the joy and the reason for our joy. Once upon a time we who believe went to church for the first time.What drew you? Just sayin'.

Joe Hendricks said...

Especially interesting, given the fact that most 'Christians', including myself, have a very hard time watching 'The Passion Of The Christ'. That film places Sunday Easter Bonnets at churches much closer to Eater egg hunts than the Resurrection, in my typically hypocritical opinion..