Written by: Amy Dalke
If you and I were having coffee together, and we started talking about Easter, I would inevitably have to talk about clothes at some point.
I know good and well that Easter is all about Jesus, but there has not been a Resurrection Sunday that I have failed to purchase a new Easter dress. (And yes, this clinches my placement on the list of Top 10 Shallow People You Know.)
And as long as we’re talking about clothes, then we must discuss the annual Easter picture. According to my assessment (82% of which is derived from my personal experience), the Easter picture is nearly as standard to the American family on Easter day, as the stocking is on Christmas.
This traditional photo shoot has to be the brainchild of a mother who wanted to capture and memorialize the beauty of new Easter clothes. In my case, it is practically the only Sunday that Luke will wear something other than Under Armour and baseball socks.
When I think about Easter pictures, I visualize the shots taken of my sisters and me before we got in the car to go to church. And boy am I glad Facebook didn’t exist during my childhood. (After viewing these snapshots, you will understand why.)
It may have something to do with the flowers on my dress and in my hair. (Or probably just because of my hair in general.)
Speaking of hair, wearing something on or in it was evidently a personal requirement of mine on Easter, because here’s another one:
(I’m hoping that it’s obvious my fashion sense has improved.)
(I’m also hoping my mother will notice my gracious restraint from making a sarcastic comment regarding her hair or that bow.)
It’s a sign of either maturity or motherhood that I have now become the Easter picture dictator. I take great joy in lovingly inflicting this annual photo op onto my family.
And you can bet that I am not beyond hassling a neighbor to come snap our picture.
So why are Easter pictures stitched into the fabric of culture?
I’m convinced it has something to do with the new clothes.
The tradition of wearing new clothes for Easter is an ancient custom, dating back to 300 A.D., when the Roman emperor Constantine made wearing new clothes for Easter an official decree. He was intent that his court would wear only the finest clothing.
This tradition eventually came to mark the end of Lent, when worshippers would discard the clothes they had worn for many weeks, for new (clean) ones. (I’m sorry to interrupt here, but the thought of this practice disturbs me. It makes me think of that Wednesday that Luke told me he had been wearing the same underwear since Sunday.) (In his defense, he insisted they weren’t dirty.) (In his mother’s defense, I was blissfully unaware that he was putting the same boxer briefs back on after his bath each night.)
Other Christian practices include wearing white clothes during the entire Easter week to symbolize new believers’ baptism, God’s forgiveness of sins in Christ, spiritual renewal, and new life.
I admit that many an Easter Sunday has been all about the new dress to me, and not because of my desire to symbolize redemption.
This year is going to be different. Yes, I have my outfit. (And it was purchased on sale, as far as Larry knows.)
But as I get dressed next Sunday, I will purposefully remind my heart that this day is not about the new clothes, or the 4×6 photos. By the grace of God, I will be mindful to put on the new life Christ has given me.
Easter happens because God loved us so much that he hung his only son on a cross to die in our place. By the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, we are empowered to live full and free and faithful lives.
Getting dressed each morning (not just on Easter) is symbolic of our new life in Christ.
We “put off our old self, which belongs to the former manner of life, that is corrupt through deceitful desires“, and as we are renewed in the spirt of our minds, we “put on the new self, which is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness“. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
“As God’s chosen people, we are holy and dearly loved, and we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We are to forgive others as the Lord forgave us; and on top of every other virtue, we are to put on the love of Christ. Which is the core virtue that ties everything else together.” (Colossians 3:12-14 paraphrased)
Maybe this Easter will be different for you, too. Go ahead and buy the new dress…but let it be a symbolic reminder of your new life in Christ.
p.s. I wish I could somehow use this new life/new clothes connection to make a case for the necessity of frequent shopping. Something tells me that won’t fly with Larry.