A Secular Easter, take two

by Amy Smith

Three years ago Easter Sunday we attended our church just as we did every Sunday.  Only this Easter was different.  This year we were sitting in the pews not as fully committed members but rather as silent doubters of the beliefs we had naively clung to for 33 years.

But we had begun the slippery slope of questioning.  A slope so slippery that after the big Easter extravaganza held by our church and the traditional post church potluck with our very Christ devoted family members, my husband boldly announced that he could no longer believe Jesus was raised from the dead.  There just wasn’t sufficient evidence to claim the resurrection as truth.  We’ve not set foot in a church since the moment those words came to life.

Fast forward three years and here we are approaching our second Easter as a fully secular family.  Holidays as a newly secular family are still difficult.  Easter brings with it the expectation of church attendance.  It’s the one Sunday that churches have an amped up anticipation of new followers of Christ.  They solidly prepare for this day because they know that Easter Sunday brings in mass numbers of saved and unsaved.  Even the least religious of Christians will find themselves inside church walls sat beside the hundreds of other Easter Sunday pew occupiers.  Easter service becomes a service of massive proportions.  Pancake breakfasts, onstage productions with live music, actors, and tugs at the heart, life changing messages from the pulpit, communion, and alter calls.  It’s an all day event with our families.  An all day reminder of how much Christ sacrificed  for us.

Well, what to do when one has made the decision to leave that life behind, when there is no pancake breakfast or three hours of church? What to do when that community of people is no longer your community of people?  Last year I think we just avoided the holiday all together.  We probably hid a few plastic eggs and called it good.

This year though, our boys are old enough to know that Sunday is Easter and with that knowledge comes the expectation that it’s a holiday to be celebrated.  We are ready to start our own Easter tradition.  One that lasts all day and is a celebration of our new life.  Our resurrection.

Easter will be a day when the six of us wake up and appreciate that we don’t need to buy a new Easter dress or wear a suit, we don’t need to fight the church crowds or busy restaurants, we don’t even need to go around pretending the Easter bunny is real and delivers eggs filled with candies.

Instead we’ll make our own pancake breakfast, we’ll sit in the knowledge that we love each other as we are and there is no expectation of conversion or change, we’ll celebrate the really great freedom that leaving religion has granted us, and maybe we’ll even have a super fun day of geocaching (a 21st century treasure hunt).

It was on Easter that our children became free to think for themselves.  Free to ask.  Free to seek.  Free to explore and find answers that fit.  Free to be who they choose to be instead of sitting in the belief that they are people in need of grace and salvation.  Free of a mandate.  Easter for us means freedom and that is definitely worth celebrating.

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