Resurrection Day!!

St. John’s Church in King William County, Virginia, one of the many historic, colonial era churches, where the altar always faces East.

If you drive around parts of rural Virginia, the state where I live, you will find a number of churches built in the pre-Revolutionary War era. Nearly all of these old churches have one thing in common: the church altar faces east. The great, historic cathedrals of western Europe do the same.

Why? In Mark 16:1-2, we read that Jesus’ women disciples went out to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices, at sunrise, only to find out that Christ had already risen. As a result, Christians have historically associated the Resurrection with the sun rising out of the east, in hopes that believers will one day share in that very same Resurrection that Jesus experienced, some 2,000 years ago. Many churches even today continue this tradition by having sunrise services on Easter morning. In fact, the word for Easter has the same root from which we get the English word for east.

Now some try to overly complicate this by associating Easter with having pagan origins, a tale which can be easily debunked (see here, here, and here). But, if it makes people feel better, just substitute the Scriptural Greek word pascha, transliterated from the Hebrew word for passover, as used by the Eastern Orthodox, or call it “Resurrection Day.” Whatever.

The point is: Do not get hung up on a word like Easter. Instead, please focus on what the concept behind the word means. Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, because it gives us the great hope, that one day, we too will inherit Resurrected bodies. For a quick five-minute summary on the meaning of Resurrection Day, Easter, or Pascha, here is Bible scholar Ben Witherington.

In the meantime, let us celebrate remember the meaning of Resurrection Day: HE IS RISEN!

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

5 responses to “Resurrection Day!!

  • John Paine

    He is risen, indeed! Happy Easter, Clarke! We attended the sunrise service at Jamestown Island this morning—it was truly beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Marion Paine

    Clarke, thank you for your fainthful posts! Easter blessings to you all.


  • Clarke Morledge

    I am continually amazed at how many people buy into the “Easter is pagan” thing, whether they claim to be Christians who reject paganism, or atheists who wish to associate Christianity with pagan superstition.

    David Wood at Acts17 Apologetics links to a helpful video that debunks this whole idea.

    But even if Venerable Bede was right about Easter linking to an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, he lived in the 8th century, in England, well after the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection was well-established in the Mediterranean basin for several centuries.

    The English and Germanic peoples translated the word “pascha” (from the Greek) to be Easter (or the Germanic equivalent), several centuries AFTER the Resurrection. Meanwhile, other European cultures adopted a more transliterated rendering of “pascha” into their native languages: French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua, Icelandic páskar, Dutch Pasen, Swedish påsk, etc.

    The Greek “pascha” always referred to the Hebrew celebration of what we today in English call “passover,” which was a term coined by William Tyndale, to describe how the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites that put lamb’s blood on their doorposts, and spared them the killing of the firstborn male sons.

    Ah, but there is more to this bizarre story. The King James Version mentions “Easter” just once in the Bible, Acts 12:4. But some KJV-Only advocates have the most convoluted apologetic reasoning to defend the KJV as the “inspired” translation of God. Here is Samuel Gipp, on the Chick Tracts website:

    They argue that just prior to Acts 12:4, Acts 12:3 talks about events described in the passage happening with respect to a particular period of time: “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” By the use of the word “then,” it would imply that the mention of “Easter” in Acts 12:4 could not have been the Passover, as the days of the unleavened bread; i.e. Passover, had already come and gone.

    Therefore, they reason that the “Easter” in Acts 12:4 really refers to some pagan feast, associated with Herod. Hence, the KJV as God’s only inspired text is vindicated! All of our modern Bible translations, the ESV, NIV, NASB, etc, that substitute the word “passover” instead of the word “Easter,” as in the KJV are in error!!

    Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well, the problem is that if you look at any Greek Interlinear translation for Acts 12:4, you will see that the mention of “Passover” is a direct translation of the original Greek world “pascha.” There is no evidence whatsoever to identify “pascha” with any pagan feast.

    I would post this in a completely new blog article, but frankly, it just is not worth the effort. Such reasoning, whether it be to implicate Easter with paganism, or to defend the KJV, is utter nonsense.

    Easter is about celebrating Christ’s resurrection, pure and simple.


  • Clarke Morledge

    A couple of other posts along the same line:

    This one discusses the Eastern Orthodox roots of “Easter eggs”:

    This one, from Dr. Michael Heiser, looks at how ancient Israelites adopted or renamed Canaanite place names, during and following Joshua’s conquest of the Holy Land:

    If these articles do not convince people to let go of the “Easter is pagan” nonsense, I do not know what will.


  • Richard Terman

    Thanks Clarke. I enjoyed the message! We are back in Washington State and still getting fully settled after 2 months in Arizona. We hope all is well there and hope to be back in Williamsburg in a few weeks for the graduation of our grandson Russ from WM Law School!

    Say “Hi” to all !


    Dick Terman


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