Why Easter is so symbolic to Interchurch Families…
Easter can be a deeply symbolic time for interchurch families, not just because – as for all Christians – it represents a significant event in Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or because it is celebrated by different Christian denominations in various ways. But because for interchurch families, in some traditions called mixed marriages where the members follow different traditions and belong to different Christian denominations, Easter can be of special symbolic significance because of the way it can highlight a number of things key to the every day lived experience of being a member of such a family
• Unity in Diversity:
Easter can symbolize the concept of unity in diversity for interchurch families. After all It is a time when Christians come together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, despite differences in beliefs and practices. It can therefore serve as a reminder for interchurch families and the churches to which they belong of the need to really embrace and appreciate the diversity within their family and the wider extended Christian family. To really look and find ways to honour and respect each other’s faith traditions, but more significantly it can demonstrate to the wider churches that ecumenical unity, witness, and welcome are very real and possible- for if we can come together to share a walk of witness or Good Friday service then it is possible to share that welcome and witness weekly too.
• Shared Values:
Easter can also highlight the shared values and beliefs that interchurch families hold, despite following their different traditions and being members of different Christian denominations. The resurrection of Jesus and the messages of hope, forgiveness, and renewal associated with Easter are central to Christian theology and can be seen as common ground for interchurch families but also the churches they belong to. This time can really serve as a reminder to the wider church communities of the shared spiritual heritage and beliefs that interchurch families can bring weekly and not just when we gather together during Easter celebrations.
• Interchurch Dialogue and Understanding:
Easter and Lent that preceded it can also symbolize the importance of interchurch dialogue and the ecumenical understanding that is intrinsic within interchurch families. It can be a time for members of different traditions and denominations to engage in discussions about their beliefs, practices, and interpretations of Easter and in turn foster a mutual understanding and respect. Easter and Lent can provide an opportunity for interchurch families to deepen the understanding of each other’s faiths and build stronger bonds based on mutual respect and appreciation in their churches and church communities…. and more importantly for those same dialogues to happen in those wider communities too, and not just as so often happens just through Ecumenical Lent Courses or prayer services during this holy season.
• Inclusivity and Acceptance:
Easter, with its message of love, compassion, and inclusivity, can be symbolic to interchurch families in promoting acceptance and inclusivity within and to the family, both the wider relational family but also the wider Christian family. It can serve as a reminder to embrace and respect each other’s religious beliefs and practices, and to create an inclusive environment where all members feel valued and respected, regardless of their individual traditions… but more importantly this can be a space within the individual churches to extend that generous hospitality and welcome too.
• Creating Uniquely Blended Family Traditions:
Easter can also be symbolic to interchurch families in encouraging them to create their own unique family traditions that honour and reflect their diverse traditions. Interchurch families may choose to incorporate elements from both partners’ traditions into their Easter celebrations, creating a meaningful and inclusive experience that reflects their family’s unique identity and values.
So this is just a very quick consideration of how and why it is that Easter can be so deeply symbolic to interchurch families, and to the work of the Association of Interchurch Families, in representing unity in diversity, shared values, interchurch ecumenical dialogue, inclusivity, and the opportunity to create traditions that honour and respect each other’s faith traditions.
It can be a time for interchurch families to come together, but also to reach out deeper into the church family as a whole and encourage them to celebrate their diversity, and at the same time deepen their understanding and appreciation for each other’s traditions and practices so that in the light of the Risen Christ all may be known and all may be one, so that with open hearts and open minds, we proclaim together Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
The Association of Interchurch Families wish all a Blessed Easter.
Association of Interchurch Families