I was drawn to a conversation Friday between two young mothers whom I thought were oddly drawn together. On one hand there was a commonality. Both were immigrants to America. Both were mothers of toddlers. On the other hand the oddity was their topic of conversation. One mother was most apparently a Middle Eastern Muslim and the other an Ecuadorian Catholic. I don't use these descriptions rudely or with prejudice but only repeat how they described themselves in appearance and conversation. For the most part I politely ignored their small talk, not wanting to intrude or appear rude. But my heart was quickened as the Ecuadorian mother spoke of Holy Week.
"What is this Easter Bunny that 'they' (Americans) talk about? I don't understand. We don't have that in Ecuador. We are all catholic and our Holy Week is religious. Do you celebrate a Holy Week in your country?" Not waiting for an answer from her Muslim friend she continues. "I asked my husband, 'Do you know what this Easter Bunny is all about?' He says it's just commercialism. All commercialism. Holy week, in my country is holy, not commercial!"
The Muslim shook her head in agreement with the comment on commercialism but made no comment on Holy Week. And then the conversation was interrupted by the hustle and bustle of children and mothers getting out of class.
My head was swirling. It was an "Ah ha!" moment for me. It awoke in me an awareness of how numb my heart had become to all the commercialism surrounding Holy Week. As Americans we are irreverent to what is holy! My heart sank. This immigrant woman was right! We have watered down the most sacred, holy week of our Christian faith-the death and resurrection of Christ-our source of salvation and eternal life with God-and made it about the pagan celebration of fertility all wrapped up in the cute, fuzzy bunny! What self-indulgent greed! No wonder the world looks at Americans with disgust! We hold NOTHING sacred, especially God!
I've always allowed some of the fun of the "pagan" commercialism but balanced it with the truth of the holiday. My parents always taught the difference between pretending and truth. I've done the same with my children. But, what of those who don't teach with balance? It must be so confusing, insignificant hinging on the ridiculous!
For a country that was founded on Christian principles, freedom to worship God as we chose and to place God in his rightful place above all else, we have veered so far off the road. For the first time I could understand why foreign countries hate Americans. We represent nothing sacred, holy or reverent. We are laughable! We stand for nothing because we have tolerated everything!
Are we truly infringing on someones religious freedom when we begin to water down our own faith for the sake of tolerance for those with no faith or a different faith? We are. We are infringing on our own religious freedom. The freedom to speak the truth from God's Word and to celebrate the sacred, Judeao-Christian holidays freely without apologies! Shall I dare say we are pagans to those from around the world who do hold their faith and God in sacred reverence?