How many of you have ever heard of a kind scary sounding holiday called….ready for this?
“The Day of the Dead”?
A lot of people have!
But not really because of the holiday… more because it was a pretty famous movie that sparked a lot of interest in this day called The Day of The Dead.
Now, if I asked you what you thought The Day of the Dead was about, what would you say?
The Day of the Dead is a famous holiday in Mexico where they celebrate… dead people.
Yeah, you heard me! They celebrate dead people! It’s a day where everyone comes together and they celebrate the ancestors they’ve had and the friends and family who have died… which sounds like a pretty morbid kind of day, doesn’t it?
I mean, in most of our experiences, when someone is dead and we go somewhere to celebrate them… it’s a pretty sad day, right? People wear black. They hang their heads and they cry. Great Aunt Melba passes around the tissues, and your younger cousin Clara decides to fart at exactly the wrong time, which causes stern looks from adults and lots of inappropriate giggling from the kids. That’s what we’re used to, right?
Well, in Mexico, the Day of the Dead isn’t morbid at all. In fact, it’s really cool!
So, on the first day of the annual Day of the Dead celebration, the children build little altars. They decorate them and make them beautiful, and they invite the spirits of their dead family and friends to come visit… Okay, so that might be a little weird? But the altars are really cool!
Then, on the second day, the families make trips to the graveyard to decorate the tombstones and grave areas of the dead people they love. They bring flowers and cards… Okay, wait, this still sounds a little depressing, doesn’t it?
Well, guess what happens on the third day?
They do what anybody would do: they party! They have a fiesta! And at the fiesta, they have lots and lots of food… and not just food, but SUGAR. They make skulls out of sugar and decorate them with icing and more sugar! They make special muertos, which is “the bread of the dead”. They decorate with marigolds, which are the official flower of the dead… Everywhere you go, there are these great colorful skeleton decorations! They make their dead loved ones’ favorite foods! So if someone you loved died and all they ever ate was macaroni and cheese, watermelon, and brownies, well, you were in luck! But if it was your Great Aunt Melba and all she ever ate was okra covered in liver and onions? Maybe you weren’t having the best Day of the Dead…
Well, I know this might shock you, but…
Did you know that we as Christians have a Day of the Dead, too?
Wait, what! Where are all the fancy skulls? Where is the sugar that I promised you? You’ve been jipped, man!
But not really, because our Day of the Dead is so much bigger than Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Our Day of the Dead celebrates…. Wait, can you guess?
Jesus. Which, by the way, is pretty much always the correct answer in Sunday School.
JESUS! Our Day of the Dead celebrates Jesus. In fact, our entire faith hinges on us having a Day of the Dead!
(this next part is intended to be a little tongue-in-cheek)
You might remember the story. There was this totally ordinary guy, who just so happened to be God, and his name was Jesus… and Jesus walked around the Earth, teaching people things and performing miracles… Which was TOTALLY last year… and then He walked on water, which you know, everybody can do… and then he turned a few loaves of bread and some fish into a picnic for thousands, which you know, any magical chef could do. Totally normal guy, right?
But people didn’t like how totally normal he was. So they decided, eh, let’s do this Queen of Hearts style. OFF WITH HIS HEAD! So they captured him and beat him and put him up on a cross and killed that totally normal guy.
So basically, Jesus is the story of a totally normal, bland, boring guy who did totally normal, bland, boring things? Right?
Not quite! Jesus did a lot of really cool, really awesome things! He healed people! He multiplied food for the hungry! He walked on water! He did things nobody could do! But still, when he was captured and crucified…. He died.
Which is kind of a bummer, you know? I mean, this guy was supposed to be special, and even he died? What a hopeless bummer. Like, if anyone could cheat death, wouldn’t you think it would be that guy? If I was one of the people following him, and I’d seen him do all of that stuff, and then he was just dead… Well, I wouldn’t just be sad or angry. I’d be devastated! I would be such a Debbie Downer! After all, this guy was supposed to be my hope, and still, death defeated him.
I certainly wouldn’t be baking sugar replicas of his head.
But see, here’s the thing about that guy… Death wasn’t the end of the story for him. In fact, death wasn’t even the last chapter. What happened next isn’t the Epilogue of the story—it’s smack dab in the middle of it! And do you know what?
It’s the most important part of the entire story! In fact, Paul, this totally normal guy who wrote most of the Bible and did lots of totally normal things like escaping prison and escaping blindness, said it’s what our entire faith hinges on. He said that what Jesus does after He’s dead is what makes our faith what it is.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:17
You see, what happened next is that Jesus busted out of the grave. And not only did he bust out of the grave, but he busted out of Earth! He actually rose from the dead. He was dead…. And then all of a sudden, he was ALIVE.
You see, Jesus did something super cool. He turned our Day of the Dead into a Day of the Living! He gave everyone around him hope. He gave them joy. A future! They no longer looked at the grave and sighed because Jesus wasn’t any different… They looked at the grave and they grinned because it couldn’t contain Jesus.
You see, when Jesus died, everyone thought death won. But when Jesus rose from the dead? He defeated death. Not only for himself, but for you.
Our entire faith depends on this one thing. That Jesus defeated death. And this is why the Day of the Dead can be a celebration. It’s why we can eat sugar skulls and pick marigolds and have a feast. Because Jesus taught us that death isn’t the end of the story.Share this post: