Easter in Mexico

Easter in Mexico

Many Christians bemoan the cultural expressions of Christianity, or the cultural alternatives to Christian holidays. The Easter bunny takes center stage, and the passion and resurrection of Jesus is sometimes seen as an afterthought.

Easter bonnets, new dresses, a ham feast with family, and other things are all part of our cultural heritage. They were all part of how I grew to celebrate Easter as a child (within the context of a Christian family). Living in Mexico has allowed me to see a little of how another culture has shaped the holiday.

In Mexico, there is no Easter bunny. Easter candy has been creeping onto shelves, but is for the most part uncommon. I often am questioned about the origin of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. In our experience, the cultural celebration of Easter has taken a very traditional religious form.

Good Friday is celebrated much more than Resurrection Sunday. As I blogged about before, Mexico is the home to the largest passion play in the world. Even the evangelical churches have little celebration on Sunday, opting instead for special Good Friday services where the topic of the sermon is almost always the last words of Christ on the cross.

The Baptist Church we attend had a sunrise service Sunday at 6 am, but the other services were “normal.” If you don’t attend the sunrise service, there is very little mention of the fact that it is even Resurrection Sunday. There is no sign of “dressing up”; no little girls in Easter bonnets or new frilly Easter dresses. Easter Sunday is just another day, while Good Friday is the cause of religious celebration.

This is the cultural expression of the holiday that we have here in Mexico. While it doesn’t take the form of bunnies and candy, it does affect the worldview of the people to whom we (and our students) are ministering.

We hope you had a great Easter season. We hope that you can live everyday celebrating the triumph of Christ over the grave. We hope that the celebration of Resurrection Sunday will continue to be a daily reality in your life.

Check out Janell’s thoughts on Easter in Mexico here (Our Easter Plans).

(Image by: JolieNY on flickr)

Good Friday in Iztapalapa Mexico

Good Friday in Iztapalapa Mexico

Mexico is a very religious country. It really shows during “Semana Santa, or “Holy Week”. You can really learn a lot about Mexico’s traditional Roman Catholic beliefs on Good Friday.

Mexico City is the home of the largest re-enactment of the Way of the Cross in the world. For months, people in Iztapalapa prepare for the re-enactment of the Passion of the Christ (click here for the official website in Spanish), and they have done it since 1843.

More than a million people visit the delegation on Good Friday to watch the processional and the crucifixion of Jesus. I heard on the radio today that there were about 800,000 people there when it started. There were probably another 200,000 who showed up by the time the man representing Jesus made it to the hill they use for Golgotha.

One of these days I’ll go and see it first-hand, but this year I just watched it on TV. It was covered all afternoon on local television stations. Here is a little I recorded while watching.

A Quick Easter Update

We went to church at Capital City Baptist Church, and English speaking church in Mexico City, since Easter isn’t celebrated that much in Mexican churches. It seems like Good Friday is celebrated more here than Easter Sunday.

We invited two students from the Seminary over for Easter dinner, and we tried to explain to them how we celebrate Easter in the USA. We had great food, great company, and lots of fun playing with Nathan’s Easter present.

Here are some home video clips from Easter.

Easter Eggs 2008 from Dennis on Vimeo.

Easter Basket 2008 from Dennis on Vimeo.

The Craziness of the Resurrection

The Craziness of the Resurrection

The account of the resurrection in Matthew 28 sounds crazy to me. The author seems to be talking out of his mind.

“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”

You know how things get skewed when you are excited? I imagine that the account is somewhat like that. I can imagine that the author was flustered, trying to put into words what he had seen, saying, “There was an earthquake, and then, there was an angel. He looked like lightning. He was glowing. His clothes were as white as snow. All the guards were like dead men.”

Unfortunately, we usually tell it with a monotonous tone of voice, as if we’re not excited to hear it. One day, I want to see someone burst into a church service with the kind of excitement that I read in that passage. “You’re not going to believe me, but here’s what I saw.”

That’s the craziness of the resurrection. It’s wild. It’s unheard of. It’s something that will change your life radically. It changed the lives of the disciples who were scared out of their minds in Matthew 27, and now in Matthew 28 (and Acts), they went on to change the world. That’s what the resurrection can do to you.

(image by: dbarronoss)

More Quotes about Jesus

More Quotes about Jesus

On this Saturday before Easter, I thought I would post some quotes I’ve read about Jesus. They go well with the video I posted yesterday.

Here are seven quotes about Jesus that I have found useful or thought-provoking in the past.

  • “The Jews tried to keep Christ contained within their law, while the Greeks sought to turn Him into a philosophy; the Romans made of Him an empire; the Europeans reduced Him to a culture, and we Americans have made a business of Him.” – Unknown
  • “Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old.” –Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • “Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.” – Philip Schaff
  • “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” –H.G. Wells
  • “As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.” –Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette
  • “Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ’s 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.” –Unknown
  • “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” -C.S. Lewis

(Image by: bbaltimore on flickr)