Sometime around Easter I received an email asking what the origins are for the word Easter. Good question!
The word Easter seems to be a variation of Estre or Eastre, the name of a Teutonic/Germanic goddess of springtime and fertility that predates the coming of Christ. Early Christians referred to the day and the season of Jesus’ resurrection as the Pascha (which means Passover or more specifically the Passover Lamb sacrificed at the annual Jewish Passover feast).
So why was name of a goddess associated with Jesus’ resurrection? A lot of the research rests on speculation, and nobody knows for sure. One explanation that seems likely says that, according to an old Germanic calendar there was a month called "Easter"--(named after the aforementioned goddess Estre)--that roughly corresponds to our month of April. So, since the season of Jesus resurrection was during the month of Easter, it's likely that people began to simply call the holy day "Easter" by convention.
Think of it this way: the night Jesus had his Last Supper we call MaundyThursday. The day he died on the cross we call GoodFriday. Historically speaking, the name Thursday means "Thor's Day" named after the Norse God “Thor.” And Friday means Frigg'sDay named after the Germanic goddess "Frigg." Of course, Jesus' Last Supper has nothing to do with Thor, and his crucifixion has nothing to do with Frigg. But by long-standing convention, our culture calls the fifth and sixth days of the week Thursday and Friday, and those names were incorporated into the name we give these two holidays commemorating Christ. Incidentally, it’s likely “Sunday” is a day in honor of some god of the sun. If we took that seriously, we might not even want to talk about “Sunday Worship”.
Many Christians now protest calling the day of the resurrection “Easter” Sunday, because the name probably has a pagan origin. Instead many insist on calling it "Resurrection Sunday" or even "Pascha," which does make more Christian sense. The concern, I think, is that we might be associating Christ’s most holy day with a false god, which could be considered idol worship so expressly forbidden in the Bible. By the same logic though, you could argue that we should call Maundy Thursday, “Last Supper Day”, and Good Friday “Crucifixion Day”--providing the words “Supper” or “Crucifix” don’t share the name of some pagan god or goddess. As far as I know, no one has pushed the point.
In my opinion, it does make more Christian sense to call Easter "Pascha" or "Resurrection Sunday," but it is less confusing to just call it Easter. Those who are worried about idol worship are sincere, but I believe their fears are misplaced. The prohibitions against worshipping false gods in the Bible are directed specifically against believers dedicating themselves to idols, or money or anything else before the one true God. It seems unlikely that anyone is inadvertently worshipping a Teutonic goddess as a result of people celebrating “Easter.” Nobody cares about Estre or Eastre or whatever her name is.
On the contrary, the things that are the most susceptible to idol worship are things that we actually do value. Money and Possessions? Yes, but also family and friends, work and recreational time. In other words, any and all precious things which give our life meaning and are outlets for our expressions of love are the most susceptible to becoming idols to believers today. These things are most likely to take the place of God or give him a second seat.
Idolatry happens when we worship God as a means to achieve our own goals instead of as an end in and of Himself. And so anyone who is truly concerned about idol worship doesn’t need to worry about Easter. They would be better off worrying about whether they truly love the God of the bible on His own terms, or would rather invent a different god that they are more comfortable with. The most notorious and seductive idol is created when we project our own desires, values and wishes into an imaginary being and call it God. That’s idolatry. And you don’t need a Buddha statue, or a Teutonic goddess named “Easter” to do that. All you need is a small imagination and a big ego.
There is another concern that people have. It’s that idle traditions like the Easter Bunny and coloured eggs have overshadowed Christ in many homes. But once again, that’s not because of the word “Easter.” Rather, it’s because the world thinks Easter is more about family than God. This has happened to Christmas too despite the fact that Christ himself is in the name. There would be much more cause for concern if people replaced “Happy Easter,” with something like “Happy Holiday” or “Blessed Family Day” with the express purpose of phasing out Christ to make the holiday more socially observable.
For these reasons, I have no worries that in wishing someone a Happy Easter I am going to mislead him or her into worshiping some long forgotten goddess, or hinder the gospel of Christ. Eastre got her name from something else too, I’m sure. And as Juliet said when pining over Romeo, “What’s in a name?” What does it matter what something is called? Not much, really. What matters is what it means. And even in the ears of the world "Easter" had long since been conquered by Christ.
He is Risen!
DOUG RAWLING AT IMMANUEL
On Thursday, May 24th at 7 p.m., Doug Rawling will be bringing some of his camp staff as well as some horses to give us a taste of Wilderness Ranch. It promises be a fun evening with pony rides for the kids, good music and good fellowship. Hope to see you there!
The hiring committee has now interviewed all candidates for the position of Parish Coordinator. In the next week or so, we ought to know who will be assuming the position of our new Parish Coordinator. Thank you to all the applicants, and thanks be to God for his guidance in this process.
Pastor Nathan will be teaching membership classes to begin in June, if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a member OR if you happen to be a Lutheran but don’t remember why :-) , please let Pastor know and he can try to accommodate a time favourable to all who wish to attend.
Good Samaritans Society in Lethbridge is looking for volunteers to help exercise the spiritual involvement of people under their care. They are looking for volunteers to transport people to and from church on Sunday, people or groups that sing hymns, lead Bible Study, or anything else to contribute. If you are interested and able, please contact Pastor Nathan.
ANNOUNCING VBS 2012
The Theme: No fairy tale creations here—this VBS theme is drawn right out of the Bible! The journey begins as Adam and Eve leave the lush oasis and enter a life of sin in the desert. After all, if children don't know we have sin, then they won't know their need for a Savior. From there, children see how Moses led the Israelites on a journey through the desert and Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. The week ends with a joyful celebration of the Resurrection and the heavenly home God has prepared for us. At the center of all teachings is our gracious Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Dates: July 16-20
Time: 9 a.m. - 12 noon
For Children from 3 to 12 years of age. We are now looking for people to help out with Vacation Bible School. If you are interested in helping out or finding our more information please talk to Debbie Lemke (403-328-8172)
Sunday, May 6th will be a "Fun Day" for the Sunday School students. The students will participate in many fun activities in the Fellowship Hall. The fun will start at 11:00 and end at about noon. Please come and enjoy this special time together!"
"On Sunday, May 13 the Sunday School students will be singing the song "Share a Little Bit" during the service. After they sing their song they will come to the Sunday School classroom to do crafts or to watch a video about, "The Life of Jesus"." This will be their final day of Sunday School for the regular term.
Six of our youth will be confirmed in the Christian faith on Sunday, May 13th at the 11 a.m. service. Please join us as we not only rejoice as they reaffirm their baptismal vows, but as we all recommit ourselves to our own promises to continue to grow in our faith in the Lord.
The Spring meeting of the voters assembly of Immanuel Lutheran Church will take place on Sunday, May 27th after the 11 a.m. worship service. Besides hearing reports from our boards and the auditor’s report, this is an election year. A nominations committee consisting of Linda Egli is in the process of preparing a slate of officers and board members. If you are approached, we ask you to prayerfully consider serving. All members who are 18 years and older are urged to attend this important meeting. If you know of a member of the congregation that you think would do well to serve, you may nominate him or her by calling Linda Egli, Nominations Coordinator, at (403) 381-4351.
The Quilting Group continues to meet every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4. We will continue to meet until the end of June and then will take a break over the summer. Seven quilts and one afghan were donated to Lethbridge Victim Services at the end of March. Besides squares for Blankets for Canada, afghans and quilts, some of the ladies have also been making scatter rugs from little squares of fabric that had been given to the group. We were also blessed with donations of cash, sewing machines and quilt batting. Thank you to everyone who continues to support this outreach group.
2ND ANNUAL LADIES SALAD SUPPER
2nd Annual Ladies Salad Supper is on Tuesday May 15th at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $3.00. Proceeds will be going to Harbour House. Please bring a salad to share. Our theme this year is wear your Fun or Crazy hats which is optional. This will be a great time for fellowship, music, door prizes and our Guest Speaker, Julie-Anne Dick. See you there!!
COUPLES GAME NIGHT OUT
On May 25th we are having our monthly Couple’s Games night in the fellowship hall at 7:00 p.m. Couples of all ages are welcome!!! We are having so much fun at this event every month and we would like to share in the fun! You are more than welcome to bring one of your favorite games and a snack to share. If you have any questions you can call me at 403-317-0258. So come on out and have a night of laughs & fun. Don’t be shy!!!!
IMMANUEL’S NICARAGUA BOOK MISSION
To purchase a large quantity of the book titled “ Quien es el hombre Jesus?” – “El vivio entre nosostros” which translates to “ Who is this man called Jesus” – “He lived among us.” This 128 page book is in a “comic book” style which makes it easy to read, visualize and understand the stories of the New Testament. Distribute these books for free to people in the Spanish speaking countries of the Americas.
How was it done?
Just before Easter 2012 Immanuel received 10,000 books paid for through our Nicaragua Mission project “Fun Razor.” The books were printed in India and shipped on a container ship to Vancouver BC. From there the two-tonne shipment was trucked to Lethbridge.
Involving Lutheran Church Canada Overseas Mission (LCC-OM)
Prior to embarking on this project, Dr. Rev. Leonardo Neitzel who heads the Latin America Missions of the Lutheran Church Canada Overseas Mission (LCC-OM)from Winnipeg was contacted. He was given a copy of the booklet to review and to give to then President Rev. Luis Turcios of “Iglesia Luterana Sinododo de Nicaragua”(ILSN) which is the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua. President Turcios approved of the book and gave the go-ahead to distribute them to the 22 congregations of Nicaragua. Rev. Neitzel attended ILSN convention earlier in 2012 and reported that the gift of these books is greatly anticipated in Nicaragua and also in Honduras, where there is one new fledgling congregation.
Getting the books to Nicaragua
5000 of the books received in Lethbridge have been forwarded to LCC-OM in Winnipeg as an outright gift from Immanuel. Through the generous support of Pedersen Transport and Reimer Transport, this one tonne load was delivered to Winnipeg at no charge. LCC-OM will see to it that the books get to the ILSN Headoffice in Chinandega, Nicaragua. From there distribution to the local congregations will take place. The ILSN decides , where, how, when and to whom these books will be given. The other 5000 books will be kept at Immanuel in Lethbridge for distribution through interested members and congregations throughout the A-BC District.
Mission Outreach for Immanuel and other LCC congregations
Immanuel will have 5000 books available for distribution. The book is an illustration of The New Testament without any specified Christian church affiliation. It can easily be used by other LCC congregations and individuals on a mission outreach in Mexico, or other countries as a tool and gift to spread the gospel. Anyone traveling to a Spanish speaking country can take some books along to hand out to new friends or hotel staff. Shirley Masnyk who is very involved with a local church and other social support in Mexico already received 100 books. They were hand delivered by the Fruson’s and friends who were visiting during the Easter Holidays. What a perfect Easter gift for that local mission church.
How to get books
All 10,000 books were purchased through the generous spirit of the people of Immanuel and are available free of charge to anyone who wants to see the gospel grow. All we ask is that the receiving individual or congregation not waste this precious resource and be responsible for any and all transportation from Lethbridge. It is the recipient’s responsibility to arrange pickup and delivery of the books. The books are boxed in cartons of 50, each weighing 9.75 kg (about 22 lbs). Maybe you have a friend visiting in, or coming from Lethbridge, who would be willing to pick them up for you. If you do a little pre-planning you will have no extra cost. Should the spirit move you to make a donation towards Immanuel’s “Nicaragua Book Fund” you will help with future projects and receive a Donation Tax Receipt early in the year following.
Sincerely in Christ,
Immanuel Lutheran Church - Financial Statement - MARCH 31, 2012
A-BC District Mission Donations for Month........................................................................................................ $173.00
A-BC District Mission Donations to Date .............................................................................................................. 703.00
CLWR Mission Donations for Month ................................................................................................................... 125.00
CLWR Mission Donations to Date ....................................................................................................................... 501.00
Servus Credit Union Cheq. Acct Balance...................................................................................................... $24,645.97