For many here, Easter at foundation of faith

Published 2:03 am Saturday, April 19, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Easter is the very foundation and heart of the identity of most Christians and the time to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Rev. Franklin P. "Rocky" Shuster III, of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles, said Easter is also what defines Christians.
Easter celebrations have changed over time and our understanding of Easter has grown, Shuster said.
But Schuster said that understanding, however, changes as each new generation needs to make Easter part of their own story.
Although current Easter celebrations are shaped by the times we live in, Easter hasn't always been celebrated the way it is being celebrated now, and different parts of the world celebrate Easter at different times.
Schuster said the earliest Easter celebrations were only a day-long event that took place from sundown the evening before Easter Sunday until the end of Easter Sunday.
Schuster said during the first millennium there was also a controversy regarding when Easter was supposed to be celebrated.
In the western world it was decided Easter should always be celebrated on a Sunday, but in parts of the Eastern world, they decided to use a different calender, he said.
After the reformation in the 16th century, Easter celebrations also changed from denomination to denomination, Schuster said.
He said some denominations decided every day was holy and therefore decided not to celebrate Easter at all.
Some churches decided to baptize during Easter, while others didn't.
While Easter is still the center of Christian theology in the United States and most other western world countries, Schuster said it's observance culturally seems to receive second place after Christmas.
But although the cultural observance of Easter might have had to make way for the more commercialized Christmas celebrations for most people, Easter is still the most important time of the year for him.
What happens from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, Schuster said, also gives meaning to his church and its members.
Schuster said with all the conflicts going on in the world world, Easter can also help bring things into a different perspective.
He pointed out that the world has always been troubled by war and disease, but because of modern technology and the media in particular, those impressions are more immediate than they have ever been before.
Schuster said as a child, he never really understood Easter.
He said older people might be able to identify more with Easter because they have more life experience and have seen more suffering than most young people.
Ultimately, however, Schuster still thinks Easter is a mystery and the most important part is not necessarily to understand, but just to be involved.