This year Orthodox Easter fell, as it often seems to do, a week after Western Easter (how timely, right, since it is now many weeks after Easter? But we are still in the Easter season for another week or so, so there: ). I noticed something on Facebook, where I am part of a pretty good sized network of people from all backgrounds but with a lot of Orthodox friends (a buddy of mine said my friends list looks like the Athens phonebook), that was rather disquieting. I saw a lot of my Orthodox friends writing status updates that said “Happy Easter to my Orthodox friends” (or kalo pascha or some such variation). My main problem is with the “to my Orthodox friends” part.
Do we contain our holidays amongst ourselves? Would non-Orthodox or non-Christian people be offended if we joyously wished them happy Easter? I hope not. We have, seemingly, been cowed by political correctness and fear of offending people to the point that we are hesitant to wish a simple religious or cultural greeting to friends. Really? I understand that the hesitation is well-intentioned, but come on now. As Orthodox Christians we are called upon to spread the gospel message. I understand that people may be uncomfortable approaching friends about Christ or whatever but this is just a greeting. Surely we can do at least that!
I fully expect my friends of other faiths to wish me their own greetings for their holidays. It is a nice thing, makes me feel included, and exposes me to stuff I would not normally know. If someone knows you well and is offended by a holiday greeting, especially a blanket one on something like Facebook, well then, good grief. I understand that we all use Facebook for different reasons – personal, ministry, business, a combination, whatever – but at the very least people in our orbit should be comfortable with the fact that we like to say Kalo Pascha or happy Easter. Let’s not be afraid to own and be proud of our holidays. God help us if we don’t welcome people into them. And let’s not remove the soul from Easter and other special days by keeping them to ourselves.