Why is Easter called Easter?


Why is Easter called “Easter”?

Here is what I learned:

“In almost every language except English, the name for this annual memorial of the resurrection is some form of the word “Passover” (for example, Pasch, from the Hebrew Peasch, “Passover”).  When Christianity arrived in the North countries, it’s springtime celebration of the resurrection received a new name from the Teutonic people, a name used today by English-speaking people: Easter.” (Greg Dues, Catholic Customs & Traditions, p. 116).

White Vestments

The debate is if Easter comes from the name of an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, Eostre vs. the misunderstanding of a Latin phrase for Easter Week, “week ‘in white vestments’ (in albis [see image of Pope in White Vestments]), thinking it was the plural of alba in the Latin idiom for ‘dawn.’  This was translated in Old High German as eostarun.” (p. 116). Regardless of the reason for the title Easter, “…the symbolism remains: Christ is the sun that rises at dawn–in the east.” (p. 116)

It is doubtful Easter was named after the “goddess” Eostre because some scholars believe she was not a real goddess in Anglo-Saxon folklore, and little is known about how or if this name would have influenced the naming of a Christian Holiday.

It is more likely the Latin and German roots had influence.

Does this even matter? Not really.  If someone were to ask the question of why we call this holiday Easter, this is a great opportunity to talk about The Passion Week (Palm Sunday, The Last Supper, Good Friday, Jesus trial, death, burial, and Resurrection Sunday).  In other words, what an opportunity to talk about the gospel of Jesus.



Who is St. Patrick & why is he important?


As the story goes, St. Patrick was captured as a slave and lived among the Celts for many of his teen years.  He escaped and was able to make it to Rome, where he studied to become a Priest and eventually a missionary to the Celts of Ireland.  The reason he is famous is because he did what the Roman Catholic Church was unable to do, convert the Irish.

The Roman Way failed: The Roman Way of ministry was to go into a culture and completely transform the culture to become like the Roman culture.  The reason the Romans were unsuccessful in converting the Irish to Christianity is because they thought of the Celts as barbarians, pagans that needed to be civilized before they could learn the gospel of Jesus.  And so Roman missionaries focused on teaching the Celts how to read, how to dress, and how to act before they were willing to share the good news that Jesus saves.  And the Celts flat rejected the Roman Way.

The Celtic Way succeeded: George Hunter III writes about Saint Patrick’s missional community methodology in The Celtic Way of Evangelism, How Christianity Can Reach the West…AGAIN.  Patrick and his followers successfully reached the people of Ireland with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ by not trying to change the Irish culture, but by embracing the best the Celts had to offer and communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way the Irish could understand.  The Irish were an imaginative people, who love song, drama, and dance.  They were very passionate, relational, down-to-earth, and fun.  So Saint Patrick and his traveling apostolic band of “…a dozen or so people, including priests, seminarians, laymen, and laywomen”[1] ministered in ways that would meet the Irish where they were at, letting go of any cultural baggage to concentrate on getting the best of the gospel across to the Irish.  This ministering team would move near to a tribe in Ireland, ask permission of the tribal king to share the message with the people, and then the Christians would live alongside the people serving and interacting with them in everyday life.  The Christians would regularly engage the Celts in conversation looking for receptive people and opportunities to pray for the sick, counsel people, and mediate conflicts.[2]

An Attractional Community: As Timmis and Chester would put it, Saint Patrick and his band were an everyday church with a message and a lifestyle that was unlike that of the culture-at-large, and so they became to the Irish an attractional community.[3]

How can we do what St. Patrick did? Part of becoming an attractional community is learning to speak the language of the people, which includes adopting the common metaphors and colloquialisms of the culture often unique to their environment. Michael Green, in Evangelism in the Early Church, calls this the work of translation, taking biblical concepts (foreign to the hearer), and looking for ways to communicate in the local everyday common language.[4]  Chester and Timmis would argue Christians in the West need to learn new methods of communication and new ways of doing church that is culturally relevant in order to reach the unchurched who would never otherwise step foot into a church building.[5]  Saint Patrick was a master at the Art of Translation of the gospel to the Celtic people.  He knew that the reason the Romans were unsuccessful in converting the Irish was because they were unbending in their approach; they had not done the work of translation and therefore wrote off the Celtic people as barbarians uninterested in the gospel and unconvertible.[6]  Patrick, however, knew how the Irish thought, he knew they had “remarkable imaginations” and so he knew that creative forms of communication such as stories, drama, song, poetry, and visual arts would be a more effective way to convey the gospel message.  And this way of ministry was effective in reaching the Celts.  After weeks and months of living beside and ministering to a particular tribe, a local congregation would emerge that “…would have been astonishingly indigenous.”[7]  Patrick’s band and the new Christians would then build a small chapel intended to serve multiple congregations.  Once a chapel was established, one of Patrick’s apprentices would remain as the priest and one or two of the settlement’s young and promising disciples would join Patrick’s band in training for ministry, and then the process would begin again as they would go on to the next tribe.  Patrick continued this style of ministry until his death in 460 AD and thus within his lifetime his mission planted about seven hundred churches, ordained about a thousand priests, and  influenced around 30 to 40 of Ireland’s 150 tribes to become Christian.[8]

Focus on people in Christian community, not buildings: Patrick did not set out to build a chapel and wait for people to come through the doors. Rather, these apostolic bands went out to the people, loved them, served them, lived alongside them, and soon the Celts were attracted to these communities, joining them, and then they would find themselves becoming Christian.[9]  Similarly, John Wesley who ministered more than a millennium later believed, “…it is the duty of the Church to go to the people.”[10]  And so he preached in the open-air and helped unbelievers form communities in which they could continue to grow in Christ.  He developed mixed gender small groups with about eleven Christians living in close proximity to one another.[11]  He also developed accountability groups of men, of women, that were smaller and that were designed to go deep into confession of sin, and the testimony of Christian experiences.[12]

The Celtic and Methodist Way, Today: The modern language is “cell-group” or “missional community” (MC) church.  Scripture teaches there are two basic regular gatherings of the local church, in homes and as large groups (e.g., Acts 2:42-47; 5:42; and 20:20). Both meetings were necessary for the spiritual and physical growth of the early church as an everyday community.  As Christians devoted themselves to the four emphases of Acts 2:42 as an everyday church, the LORD blessed them and added to their number (Acts 2:43-47).

Large Gathering: In the early church, teaching and preaching was primarily conducted during the large group gathering by the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers, which had a two-fold purpose: (1) the equipping and edification of believers to do ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16); and (2) the evangelism of seekers (Acts 19:8-10). Therefore, the purposes of Sunday gatherings is: worship, preaching, teaching, evangelism, communion, and prayer.

Small Gathering: This is a small group  (whatever you wanna call them) that meets regularly for the purpose of mutual edification and the application of Scripture to be lived out as an everyday community (Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:11-16). The group functions as a mini-church with the leader shepherding the group to become a family of servant missionaries who make disciples that make disciples and multiply (Matt. 18:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9).

The above is the Celtic Way, the Methodist Way, St. Paul’s Way, Jesus’ Way of ministry.


[1] George G. Hunter III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…AGAIN (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2010), 9.

[2] George G. Hunter III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 9.

[3] Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church, 49-50, 56, 127.

[4] Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003),165-168.

[5] Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church, 157.

[6] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 5 & 7.

[7] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 10.

[8] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 10-11.

[9] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 44-45.

[10] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders (London, UK: Kessinger), 302.

[11] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296.

[12] Robert Coleman, Nothing To Do But To Save Souls (Nappanee, India: Evangel, 1990), 35.

[13] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 295-296.

[14] Andrew Purves, Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition (Louisville, KY: Westminster, 2001), 112.

[15] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296-298.

[16] Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 79-109.

[17] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296.

[18] Joel Comiskey, 2000 Years of Small Groups, 168.

[19] Robert Coleman, Nothing To Do But To Save Souls, 34.


The power of prayer

I have recently rediscovered something; the power of prayer. When we feel distant from the Lord, seeking the Lord causes us to draw near to him and the Lord to us. I have been seeking the Lord through the book of Psalms. The word for today that is encouraging comes from Psalm 27:1, 4, 14,

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. 

If you are struggling with your relationship with the Lord, I encourage you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and start seeking the Lord in Psalms and through prayer. Start on New Year’s Day. 

Start reading Psalm one. Sometimes prayer can be unfocused, which is why I use a prayer journal. I focus on telling the Lord how much I love him, and then spill my heart, and make my requests. Then I ask him to work in my heart as I open up the word of God. The Lord usually has something to say through the daily reading. This heals the heart. My encouragement to you is to pursue the Lord in the same way this New Year.


Why we worship

I was reading this book called Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. The book is challenging and helps the average person re-think why we do what we do. One of the challenges of the book this past week is about the mission of God (missio dei) and the mission of the church (missio ekklesia). The point made was,

“The New Testament speaks of church in two senses. First, the church is the heavenly congregation continually gathered around God’s throne. Second, it is local congregations showing the reality of that heavenly church. We each have a part to play in helping our local congregation model increasingly more that heavenly congregation. We do that by extending love and grace to one another and by reaching out to others with the gospel.” (Total Church, p. 104)

The conviction for me from this quote is worship is all about GOD, gathering people to lift up the name of the Tri-une GOD in praise. Since we will be worshiping eternally, it would make sense that we would get a taste of heaven together when we worship as a local church. This inspires me to long for worshiping together. I long to worship with you Sunday.  Merry Christmas


What is the “Alt-Right”?

It has been said that Pastors should not talk about politics.  Except when Christians are being drawn into an ideology that is anti-GOSPEL.  Should Pastors in Nazi Germany have remained silent when Nazi ideology began to poison Christianity? Of course not.  But many Pastors and Christians remained silent as their neighbors were taken away never to be seen again.

Last Sunday I took my children and sister to the Museum of Flight.  In the WWII room the Museum had a section describing Hitler’s ideology and how different people groups were marked out for prison camps (see below, the key on the right explains the symbols).

Nazi racism.jpg

I explained that if we lived in Nazi Germany, my half-sister would have had to wear the Jewish star (my step father is Jewish) and she would have eventually been taken away and put in a camp unless courageous men and women would have hidden her and smuggled her out of the country.

Now, we look back and think, “How awful! What were the silent Christians thinking?” Many of them were fearful of speaking out.  But in the beginning, with the rise of Hitler and Nazism in the early 1930s, Christians could have done more to understand and identify the Social Darwinian ideology of Nazism as racism, and therefore spoken out against it instead of enthusiastically embracing White Nationalism.

There are similarities as we analyze the Alternative Right.  And if we are not careful, we are potentially doomed to repeat history.

For those unfamiliar with exactly what the “Alt-Right” is, let me explain.  When I am finished, you will understand that Christianity and the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is incompatible with Alternative Right ideology.

Alternative Right Defined

The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.


The Alternative Right is a term coined in 2008 by Richard Bertrand Spencer, who heads the white nationalist think tank known as the National Policy Institute, to describe a loose set of far-right ideals centered on “white identity” and the preservation of “Western civilization.” In 2010, Spencer, who had done stints as an editor of The American Conservative and Taki’s Magazine, launched the Alternative Right blog, where he worked to refine the movement’s ideological tenets.

Spencer describes the Alt Right as a big-tent ideology that blends the ideas of neo-reactionaries (NRx-ers), who advocate a return to an antiquated, pseudo-libertarian government that supports “traditional western civilization”; “archeofuturists,” those who advocate for a return to “traditional values” without jettisoning the advances of society and technology; human biodiversity adherents (HBDers) and “race realists,” people who generally adhere to “scientific racism”; and other extreme-right ideologies. Alt-Right adherents stridently reject egalitarianism and universalism.

[For more, read the entire article here: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/alternative-right%5D

I don’t know if you caught the language used here, but it is essentially a White Nationalist, neo-Nazi, and racist ideology.

A year ago, the rhetoric I heard after the San Bernardino terrorist attack was, “Muslims are infiltrating our country and changing out culture,” and “We need to elect Trump, because he’ll deport them,” and “America is based on white European culture, and our way of life is being destroyed.”

At the time I thought is was completely implausible that Trump would be elected.  But hey look, now he is President-Elect Trump.  And the rhetoric since the election is amazingly divided:

After watching those videos I have three points to make:

First, everyone needs to calm down.  Take a breath.  Remove bias.  Be reasonable.  Look into all sides and don’t have a knee jerk reaction.  We need racial reconciliation, not rhetoric that induces bigotry and hatred, from the Left and the Right.

Second, for those on the Left painting people on the Right as racist, you need to stop.  There are some outlier groups that are racist, which supported Trump.  But this doesn’t mean everyone on the right is part of the “Alt-Right.”  Not everyone on the Right is White Nationalist.  In fact, I would argue that it is a small percentage.  But the Left is crying “racism” and trying to pin conservatives in a corner (this is why the Left lost the election, because this outlandish rhetoric is inflammatory).

Painting all conservatives, or even a majority of conservatives as racist bigots is an overreach.  As Ben Shapiro put it (who is a Jew, a former editor Breitbart, and an energetic critic of Steve Bannon and President-Elect Trump), he said that to suggest White Nationalism will be brought to the White House by Trump and Bannon is “overstated, at the very least.” [http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/opinion/sunday/what-the-alt-right-really-means.html?_r=0&referer=]

[I highly recommend you listen to the Ben Shapiro podcast daily, as he has been anti-Trump from the get go, and he is pointing out the bias of the Left and the Leftist media, and he points out the hypocrisy of the “Alt-Right” and biased conservatives who have a double standard – click here: http://www.dailywire.com/podcasts%5D

The media and the Left need to chill.  They need to stop overstating their case.  And at the same time, Christians need to separate themselves from the “Alt-Right” and White Nationalism.

This is my third point.  For the “Alt-Right” to suggest that white people and white European culture is responsible for the “American idea” is a half truth at best.  The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ and Judeo-Christian values heavily influenced the writing of our constitution.  One point among many at which the Alternative Right goes wrong is they assume that White Nationalists came up with Judeo-Christian values.  As if Christianity and Judaism is the “white man’s race.”  And this is the narrative of the Left, a narrative that needs to be rejected by Christians [listen to this NPR piece confusing Christianity and the Alt-Right: http://www.npr.org/2016/11/29/503620409/in-montana-an-unease-over-extremist-views-moving-out-of-the-woods]

In summary of the NPR piece, Kirk Siegler makes some good points, and some not-so-good points, which we Christians need to shirk and work that much harder to overcome.

  • Good points: the woman being interviewed is shocked by how okay people are with racism.  In other words, this article is a rebuke of the “Alt-Right” and White Nationalism.  This is a good point because this rebuke I agree with.
  • Not-so-good points: the article paints the community as Christian (which is probably is), but it associates the positive aspects of being Christian with White Nationalism by pointing out billboards in that county have the Ten Commandments and that radio is dominated by Christian conservatism.  This is a not-so-good point in that the article is confusing Christianity with the Alternative right [pay special attention to Siegler’s tone as he talks about this, he makes the Commandments and Christian radio sound like a real downer, almost as if it is the basis of White Nationalism].

The first time I heard this article, I was angered.  It paints Christians with a broad brush, including them in a group to be rejected.

The devil has a plan, he has a strategy.  He wants to divide us.  He wants to make Christians look a fool.  He wants to make conservative Christians look like Right-Winged Nuts.  And sadly, it’s working.  Which means we need to work that much harder to overcome this perception.

How is Satan’s strategy working? I have relatives who think that because I am a Christian, because I am a conservative, and because I am a pastor, then-therefore I must be a racist bigot.  They hear NPR and watch CNN and hear the words of Jenifer Palmieri as she attacks the Trump Campaign and Kellyanne Conway for running a campaign supported by “White Supremacists,” and then the average viewer of that CNN program (or listener of NPR) forms an opinion about Christians and the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.

Satan’s strategy has driven my family members to the far left, and they don’t listen to anything Christians have to say about the GOSPEL because their views have been shaped by the media.  And so when Christians and secularists (especially family) get together, or talk on the phone there is an explosion of vitriol against White Nationalism and Racism, and Christians become the Straw-man to knock down, unjustifiably so.

What can we Christians do about it? First, draw near to Jesus.  Second, separate yourself from the “Alt-Right” and White Nationalism.  It is one step short of Nazism.  It is not the vision of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.

The GOSPEL of Jesus: is “good news,” that Jesus is  KING of the Universe and He has come to save us.  Salvation in Jesus means two things: saved from the consequences of sin and hell; and saved to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that is eternal in heaven.  And therefore Jesus Commissions Christians to, “Go make disciples of all nations…”

All Nations: the word in the Great Commission translated as “nations” is the word “ethnos” meaning “ethnic groups.”  The vision of Jesus is multi-ethnic, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  The Christian vision levels the playing field, gets rid of racism, and unifies people instead of dividing people (conversely, White Nationalism, the “Alt-Right” and the Left are dividing our nation).

The Christian vision was that of a Jewish man who walked on water, healed people, forgave people, died for the world, and raised from the dead.  And His vision is that His message would spread from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the outermost ends of the earth.

The “Alt-Right” and White Nationalism is incompatible with Jesus’ vision.

May you separate yourself from anti-GOSPEL “Alt-Right” ideology and instead, draw near to Jesus.




The Alt-Right is not Christian 

The leftist media is attacking Christians, wrongly. Case in point is the following article by NPR. It talks about White Nationalists coming out of the woods in Montana and moving to White Fish, MT. And the media wrongly associates White Nationalism with Christianity.
To explain the article, let me first define White Nationalism and the Alt-Right. White Nationalism is a step away from Neo-Nazism. The idea is European Culture is superior and is the basis of the founding principles of America. And more specifically that white culture can only be preserved by white people. It is essentially racism. And I STRONGLY CONDEMN this perspective. White Nationalism and the Alt-Right is NOT Christian. If you associate yourself with the Alt-Right and White Nationalism, you do not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You do not understand that it is God’s vision to bring together people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and ethnic group to make a new, united people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Gospel does NOT exclude any race. The Gospel lifts up every race as equal. And the Gospel brings races together in unity.
Now, where the article goes wrong is the journalist Kirk Siegler says in a condescending tone, “Billboards are covered with the 10 Commandments instead of advertisements…and Christian radio floods the airwaves” as if Christians are associated with or responsible for the Alt-Right and White Nationalism.

Separate the two. Separate them. Christianity is not White Nationalism. This is the leftist media’s attempt to knock down Christians by confusing the matter, skewing truth, and associating (wrongly) Christians with evil.

[listen here – http://www.npr.org/2016/11/29/503620409/in-montana-an-unease-over-extremist-views-moving-out-of-the-woods ]

What is happening here? The Left and Media hates the morality of Christians and the Bible. And therefore the Left becomes fascistic in its attempt to condemn Christians along with outlier groups (I.e., the Alt-Right and White Nationalism is not a large percentage). So if you are a Christian who thought that it was good to be Alt-Right and now realize being Alt-Right is just short of Nazism and White Nationalism, I implore you to repent, live the Gospel, and become a unifying force by being Jesus to the world.


Feeling Trumped?

Well, it’s officially been called, it’s almost midnight.  But this election is a shocker, if you’ve listened to the media.

I was watching CBS the whole time, they seemed beside themselves, disappointed, shocked, exacerbated, but their analysis (in my humble opinion) of why Trump won is wrong.  They claimed racism and backwards people coming out of the woodwork from back country America.  I disagree.  It was not racist people, but people who feel the left has morally hijacked our media, education system, children, college students, and almost our whole nation.  I think the enthusiasm for Trump is he possibly will reverse the immoral decisions made by the Supreme Court by electing Justices who are conservative.  

What does the future hold? Who knows.