The Osterhase

Hundreds of years ago, according to legend, a poor German widow and her children were struggling to survive through a brutal famine. With the country nearly out of food, hunger was always present in their home. But there was also love and the devoted mother was always looking for ways to brighten her children's days. Suddenly she stumbled upon an idea. She had a few small eggs that she had planned for a special treat, but instead of just boiling them and letting the children eat them, she decided to decorate them and hide them in the garden for the youngsters to find. This she did, but as soon as the children found the eggs, they looked up and saw a large hare (hase) hopping away. They assumed that the rabbit had left the eggs for them and ever since then, the Osterhase (Easter Hare) became a part of German folklore. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania during the 1700's they brought their legend of a large rabbit that laid eggs on Easter with them.

I realize that as we search the history books, we discover that eggs and rabbits have long been associated with the spring equinox as symbols of fertility and new life. Somewhere as early as the 13th century, eggs at least began to be used in Christian circles to represent the resurrection. Whether you compare rabbits and eggs to the resurrection or not, there are plenty of other symbols around us that we see, reminding us that death is temporary. The leaves budding from the trees, the flowers pushing up from the soil, the grass turning green again, even the pollen filling the air lets us know that we have a hope beyond the grave. And this hope was given because two thousand years ago Jesus stood outside of an empty tomb, proclaiming as He had only weeks before at the tomb of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). Today, when we look at a cross, we don't see the pagan symbol of death that it once was. Instead, we see a symbol of hope and eternal life. Someday soon the dead will rise. Someday soon we will be clothed with immortality. Someday soon we will see our loved ones again. They will rise because He is risen!