I know this shows my age but I can still remember playing the original Super Mario Bros in world 1-2. This is the second level in the game and it takes place underground. Mostly because I wanted to see if I could, I tried to get up on top of the level’s brick ceiling. It was possible and I managed to do it. When it got to the pipe that led to the end of the level I ran right over top of it, and that is when I discovered the warp zone. I distinctly remember the sense of awe and discovery in finding this hidden secret. I had a similar experience a few years later when discovering a secret treasure room in Castle Wolfenstein, and in numerous video game since. Hiding secrets in video games has been a major part of video game development for years. It is a common thing to find in a variety of video games. Sometimes these secrets are a built in feature of the game and other times they are placed without any indication, just so players can discover them. It has become a common expression to call these hidden secrets Easter eggs. Game developers know that there is something appealing in discovering a surprise. Of course, this is something the church has known for quite some time. After all, we invited Easter eggs.
Very early on Christianity adopted the symbolic egg as a teaching point to reach the pagan cultures of Europe. For instance, the traditional color to die Easter eggs was red because it was a reminder of the drops of blood Christ shed for us. Eggs might have been a pagan religious symbol once, but the ancient Christians redeemed the symbol and value in using it as a way to teach and celebrate our risen Savior. The Easter Egg Hunt itself may have Christian origins. German legend says that the great reformer Martin Luther instituted the first Easter egg hunt. These early Easter egg hunts were a way for families and especially children to experience the joy of Easter. This joy of Easter is the joy that women experienced on the first Easter. Every gospel is consistent that several of Jesus disciples who were women went to the tomb, to discover it empty. The joy of Easter is the surprise of an unexpected discovery. While to a greater magnitude it is similar to the joy of discovering a video game secret.
The joy of searching, and finding something both wonderful and unexpected cannot be adequately put into words. It can only be experienced. There is no way we can adequately understand the emotional roller coaster that the women who came to find Jesus in the tomb went through, they went from confusion and despair to pure joy. Finding an Easter egg does not compare to the joy of finding an empty tomb, but the joy of discovering something is like a slight echo of the greater emotion they experienced. It is hard to say if Easter egg hunts were invented by Protestant reformers, but Christians should absolutely claim the way the tradition can speak to the faith story.
Another way that the Easter egg connect with the scriptures is that when we are looking for Easter eggs we are looking for something. The women going to the tomb were looking for something, and the found it. Ironically, the found what they were looking for by finding nothing! The tomb was empty! That morning they women were going to look for Jesus’ body, but in their hearts and souls what they were really looking for was hope, forgiveness, and new life. That is why they had sought to follow Jesus in the first place. What they were looking for seemed to be crushed on Good Friday, but early on that first Easter morning they found what they were looking for. When we seek for Easter eggs, we are reminded that we too have found what we are looking for. We were lost, but because of the great love of Jesus we are now found. On Easter we celebrate that our Lord and Savior conquered death, reunited us with God the Father, and gifts us life everlasting. Hunting for Easter eggs reminds us that in Christ we have finally found what we are looking for.
Easter is all about celebrating that the tomb was empty. We celebrate because of that fact we have the opportunity to receive new life in Jesus Christ. In the scripture Jesus met Mary in the garden and she found exactly what she was looking for. Jesus still meet us today, may we find him and may we find the love, acceptance, forgiveness, and new life that we are looking for.