Easter in one hop

“Easter in one hop.”
The full page ad caught my attention. Is International House of Pancakes touting an Easter brunch? Has some megachurch devised a way to call the secular world’s attention to the most sacred day in the Christian calendar?

No. It was a Walmart ad. A full page ad in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, page A7 in Wednesday’s paper. That’s Wednesday, April 20, in the middle of HOLY WEEK, touting THE. MOST. SACRED. DAY. IN. THE. CHRISTIAN. YEAR. as a day to “Save money. Live better.Save gas. Save time.” by shopping at Walmart.

Easter in one hop? Are they going to open the store doors with a procession singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”? Are they going to serve communion in the snack bar? Read scripture in aisle 10 about how the resurrection of God Incarnate brings new life to all of humanity?  Proclaim the Good News — Jesus has risen! Death, where is thy sting! — from the customer service counter?

My jaw drops in amazement at the incredible hubris and insensitivity of the world’s largest retailer casually suggesting Easter is merely an opportunity for the corporation to  try to sell things. They aren’t satisfied with completely co-opting Christmas for frenzied consumerism. Nearly every retailer does that in America today. “Easter in one hop” takes corporate greed, secularization and diminished regard for Christianity to new lows.

Do I really need to say this? The only “one hop” to Easter is found in church. Many churches have special events all this week — foot washing, communion services, and other types of worship today, Maundy Thursday; tennebrae services where candles are extinguished instead of lit, or preachers preach minisermons on “The Seven Last Words of Christ” on Good Friday; preparations of all kinds on Easter Saturday, including last-minute choir rehearsals and general sprucing up of the church in anticipation of the big day.

I say this on good authority:  Every functioning church in America will be open for “one hop” worship on Easter Sunday, starting, in some places, at midnight for an Easter vigil, continuing at sunrise in many early-morning outside observances, and on into the day with pageantry, trumpets, wonderful singing, joyful preaching, prayerful intercession, careful reading and discussion of scripture, and into the evening, with Easter night observances of Jesus on the road to Emmaus or appearing to the disciples in the Upper Room.

I don’t ever shop at Walmart — for a lot of reasons. The primary one is the way the world’s largest retailer has driven manufacturing jobs out of the United States and into countries like China that exploit their workers.

But for those of you who do (maybe a friend or relative works there) — I urge you NOT to shop at Walmart this week — Holy Week. Instead,  “hop” in to the church of your choice for Easter. It’s not about bunnies. It’s not about chocolate. It’s not about shopping. It’s not about Walmart. It’s about the Good News of the resurrection. Hallelujah. Glory to God in the highest.

Virginia Gilbert

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