Christmas and Easter are the two days when people who don’t go to church on any other occasion will make a point to be there. I understand it—they’re the biggies, and they’re also family-gathering holidays, and we pull out all the stops to celebrate them. But for all our emphasis on these two important observances of the beginning of Jesus’s earthly life and the beginning of his resurrected life, it has always been interesting to me that the Bible doesn’t tell us to celebrate them at all.

In the Old Testament, when there’s an important work of God the people are supposed to remember, God tells them when and how to worship in response. There are detailed commandments with times and places and actions and what to wear and even what words to say. In the New Testament, Jesus gives his followers plenty of guidance about what they should do when he is no longer with them in body, but these two key holy days don’t come with any instructions. If we never met in church to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” or “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” we wouldn’t be breaking any biblical rule.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget Easter altogether. (Plus, I just really love “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” so I am not advocating for ditching Easter Sunday worship!) In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul offers the Christians in Corinth a review of the good news of Jesus’s resurrection, and he gives them a reason to keep remembering this gospel. He is not giving them new information. This isn’t a challenging new teaching or a correction, and it’s not an evangelism effort to gain new believers. This a review of what they have already “received”: Christ died for our sins, was buried and raised on the third day, appeared to many of his disciples, and even by God’s grace appeared to Paul who did “not even deserve” (v. 9) to be among those who witnessed the resurrected Christ. This is all good news! And even though they already know it all, remembering it will help them “hold firmly” to this word so they will not have “believed in vain” (v. 2).

I wonder what Paul was thinking of when he worried that their belief might be “in vain.” He is not talking about eternal life here, and he is not talking about fulfilling an annual obligation to show up for Easter Sunday worship. But remembering the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection not just once a year but always will keep this good news alive in their hearts and active in their lives. After all, Christ the Lord is risen today—every day. Thanks be to God!

Discussion

  • Consider the dictionary definitions of “vain” (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vain). How does Paul intend this reminder about the gospel of Jesus to help the believers avoid “believing in vain”?
  • Do the definitions of “vain” describe any aspects of your spiritual life? What regular reminders would help you to “hold firmly”?
  • Do you think “holding firmly” is the same as refusing to shift or change? How do we continue to grow and learn, and even reconsider old beliefs and discover new ones, while we still “hold firmly”?
  • What are the parts of Easter celebrations that are most meaningful to you? How might you incorporate a “review” of Easter in your worship, prayer, study, and spiritual practice during the rest of the year, so you can continually remember this good news?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in St Louis, Missouri. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for d365.org and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at amovingyarn.com.

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