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Go beyond the celebration


Go beyond the celebration

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A FEW YEARS AGO, when I saw some children enjoying themselves at an Easter party, I asked them if they knew the story of Easter. They all said “yes”, as they told me about Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, and a fancy hat competition they’d had at school. Those children, without knowing the meaning of Easter, were celebrating it. But then they were children and could be forgiven.

What is difficult to forgive is that today a great many of us adults not only manage to separate meaning from celebration, but we stop at celebration and do not go on to demonstrate an Easter praxis: a newness of life, a new and deeper respect for life, a deeper sense of solidarity and caring, a prophetic hope to challenge the culture of death and hopelessness that threatens to engulf us.

Because, for Christians, the church’s liturgy (that is, its “public work”) always demands that the meaning of a festival should always determine the shape of both its celebration and praxis. This is something the church could and should contribute to our society. It is a crucial part of the evangelisation of culture.

Without this evangelisation, which must start with the church, we shall continue to observe not only Christian festivals, but such major national festivals like Labour Day, Emancipation Day and now our golden anniversary of Independence without them being any more than entertaining (and expensive) “feel good” celebrations.

For these major national festivals to lead to a praxis of genuine liberation and independence, they must be integrated into a mature and honest understanding of our present reality. Not to do this is to short-change ourselves and to pretend that a contrived optimism can take the place of genuine hope.