My parents were academic types. Teachers. My dad was a professor of mechanical engineering, my mother an elementary school teacher. They raised us to read, to think, to discuss, to be curious.
We didn't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Jolly Green Giant.
And barely in Jesus. They made allowances for Him because my mother's parents WERE Christians of that born-again type. You know the sort I mean, the sort that takes all this stuff seriously about Jesus being the Son of God who came down to earth to die and be resurrected. You know what I'm talking about...
My parents, at least when I was small enough to believe in all those other things, preferred to think of Jesus as an historical person, whose teachings helped us be moral and have the kind of ethics my parents believed were important. Love your neighbor, Respect each other, be kind. I sort don't think I thought of God so much as an old man with a white beard when I was young as a glorified Scout Master in the sky. The ethics of my father's beloved Scouting, you see, permeated our home far more than the Bible did back then.
My parents let us play the games of all those childhood rituals, however. We played at Santa Claus--knowing we were Santa for each other when we put our gifts under the tree. We acted like we believed in the tooth fairy when we lost our baby teeth and placed them beneath out pillows. I remember sleeping very carefully so that I didn't accidentally make the tooth get lost under the bed during the night. Why? Because I knew my father or mother was going to exchange it at some point for a quarter. Yes, I knew it would come from one of them; I knew it was a game, but I liked the game and I certainly liked the quarter reward. And at Easter, we dyed our own eggs, of course. Isn't such an activity part of the fun? When we found those eggs, they were the ones we'd dipped in dye, still smelling of vinegar.
But Jesus. He was something different altogether. He was a man, after all. He had a history, with a real birthday and a long book about his life. But what sometimes puzzled me when I was a child was the fact that unlike other people of history who had died, his death day (and resurrection day, for that matter) didn't have a sticking point in time. They seemed random. I hadn't the faintest idea what caused Easter to be March something one year and April something the next. It made the whole story of Jesus more fairy-tale-like, less real and true.
I'm trying tell you this like I thought about it as a child.
But then one year (perhaps I was in middle school--though I can't remember precisely, and didn't write it down) my Sunday school teacher told us that historians believed there are two possible dates for Easter: April 3 or April 7. It all depended on the calendar. Something began to change in me with that information. If the resurrection actually happened on a specific date, it might just possibly be real.
This was anywhere from 1-3 years before I asked Jesus into my life. But there was something about that date that stirred something in me. I can't look back and tell you everything it stirred now. It's too long ago. I can tell you I've known those two dates longer than I've been His disciple.
Jesus has a real story. He was born (probably in March, though I didn't know this as the time); He lived, He had parents and siblings, He had a life. He died on a specific date in history and He rose again--also on a specific date in history.
It's powerful to keep in mind.
Life-transformingly powerful. God did this.
And the most real thing about it is
that it was/is/will be all for us.
And for us all.