N.T. Wright, quoted here in this post on the internet monk site, states that we should celebrate Easter with enough wild abandon that the watching world wonders what in the world we are celebrating in such a manner. When I stop and think about what Easter really means, I'm inclined to agree with him.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is his triumph over death. Jesus died for us, really died. He entered into something that has plagued humans since the Fall. What makes the difference is that Jesus DID NOT stay dead. He entered into death, took names and kicked butt. Death thought that Jesus had been stopped, that death had once again triumphed. By rising from the grave Christ took the teeth out of death. As the Apostle Paul writes, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Death cannot touch us now. Oh, we may experience physical death, but it has no power over us. Because Christ is risen, we also shall rise and never die. Paul also says, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." If death has been put to death, then its sting, sin has been put to death as well, as well as the law. That means we are free from death, free from sin, and free from the law.
Sometimes this journey following Jesus gets tough. There are obstacles all along the path, and sometimes things get so dark that we can't even see the way ahead. At those times we can look back to the Resurrection and realize that because we can look back to that event, we can also look forward to the promise of our own resurrection and victory over death. The Resurrection gives us the strength to carry on.
The Resurrection also gives us the motivation to love others as we love ourselves. Because there has been a Resurrection, there will be a resurrection. Because their will be a resurrection, every person matters, and every thing we do matters. We don't know what any one person will be resurrected to, so we are moved to treat everyone with dignity, love and compassion. The Resurrection also guarantees that all of us who follow Jesus will be with him for eternity. This moves us to see all who claim Christ as our brothers and sisters, and fellow members of Christ's Body. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that enables us to love one another when we tend to act in an unloving manner.
The Resurrection is the opening move in the ongoing and final restoration of all of God's creation. It is truly death working backwards. That moves us to see creation as something that is being restored, rather than as a goddess or a thing to simply be exploited. We are invited to participate in the restoration that is happening now while looking ahead to that which is to come.
The Resurrection changes everything. It was, and still is, a world altering event. So celebrate! Throw Easter parties. Some traditions celebrate Easter for more than just one day. That's a great idea. Let those around see us go far beyond the chocolate bunnies, the new clothes, the ham dinners. Let them see how much we value what has happened, and let them wonder.