Most pagans – God bless them – don't quite know what to do with Easter.
It's funny; they ought to, since it was originally a pagan festival that the church baptised. Nothing wrong with that, of course, since if pagans themselves can become baptised as believers, then so can their festivals, provided we remember that baptism involves death prior to new life. Which brings us back to Easter. Every year I receive many wishes of "happy Easter" during Holy Week and it has increasingly struck me as odd. Worse is when Christians can also think of nothing better to say. How do you reply?
Here are some of my attempts, depending on the context (how well I know them, how much longer the conversation might conceivably continue, etc.):
• "Yes indeed, because Christ is risen!"The casual celebration of Easter with chocolate and relaxed BBQs (or through earning a mint while working at double-time-and-a-half, as I overheard one Easter enthusiast on the bus this afternoon) wants the benefits of new life without the way of the cross. This makes for a shallow spirituality that avoids giving offense because it refuses to take offense at the cross, or simply refuses to look at the dying places of the world. The only path to life is through the valley of the shadow of death. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed (John 12.24). Or, as the St Andrews Cathedral School motto puts it, Via crucis, via lucis.
I tried this one on a teenage shop employee for whom wishing me "happy Easter" was obviously part of his training. He looked at me as if to say "What's Christ got to do with it?"
• "Not yet, we're still in Lent."
Amazing how many Christians don't even know what Lent is about (or try here for more links if you're not into those suggestions).
• "Don't jump the gun, he's got to die first." Or perhaps, "we've got to die first".
Try that one on your co-workers or the postman.