Easter was always a favorite holiday of mine when I was a kid. I mean who wouldn’t like a holiday where you received chocolate rabbits and marshmallow, robin and chocolate eggs? Plus, you got to go on an Easter egg hunt and fill your basket with all kinds of goodies found in plastic eggs. Besides all of that though, my sisters and I always got a new hat, a pair of shoes, a purse, and an “Easter dress,” which we proudly wore to church on Easter Sunday. I never really thought about why we got new clothes on Easter, I just enjoyed getting them.
Do you go out at buy new clothes for Easter? Do you know why? Is it just part of your tradition like it was for me?
When I was much older and in seminary, I discovered the reason for getting new clothes on Easter. In the early church, people most often were baptized on Easter after going through some kind of an instructional class on what it meant to be a Christian. These new converts learned that once you decided to follow Jesus, your old self dies and you are resurrected to new life in Christ. You die in Christ; you are raised with Christ. Paul talks about putting off on our old clothes – representing our old lives—and putting on our new clothes – representing our new life in Christ. On Easter morning the people would literally take off their old clothes, put on a white robe, confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, be baptized, and then put on a brand new set of clothes.
When we put on new clothes for Easter, we are telling the world that we are new people, followers of Christ Jesus. Easter isn’t just an excuse for buy a new outfit, and it’s not just to show off that outfit to those around us; it’s really a day to show off who we are as Christians. New clothes are a symbolic way of witnessing to our faith and our belief in Jesus. Of course new clothes only go so far; the way we live out who we are as Christians is an even greater witness. Hopefully, our outer wear matches our inner being and heart, our speech and our actions.
Whether you have new clothes or not, I hope to see you Easter (Palm Sunday too), witnessing to the world that you are an Easter people, new persons in Christ.