And that pisses some people off.
Flemming had purchased 666 copies of his own movie [The God Who Wasn’t] for what might well be described as an ideological/promotional giveaway.
Thus began the “War on Easter”—with its own website, waroneaster.org.The new site became a hub for a campaign in which Flemming recruited believers in the film to distribute copies of the DVD to churches over the upcoming Easter holiday, Handing them to pastors? No, not exactly, Those recruited were intended to place the film surreptitiously—in pew racks, in restrooms, in bushes, by the door, or in any place where it might later be found with a little effort. Plastic Easter eggs, too, were used for distribution to the younger set; though these would contain messages such as, “Jesus is no more real than the Easter Bunny.” Once these trinkets were placed. those recruited could return to the website and tell the story of how they proudly placed Flemming’s markers. I found this story particularly poignant:
We got an odd look from a police officer when we were sitting across the street from a playground in an old brown Chevy Celebrity with a bunch of easter eggs, flyers, and a lot of liquor in the back seat. [Easter is lower cased in the original, of course.]
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Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
-Paschal (Easter) Hymn
Jesus Christ was not content with laying in the tomb for three days after His crucifixion. Instead, while His body was entombed, Christ’s soul descended into Hades, or Hell. Christ descended there not to suffer, but to fight, and free the souls trapped there. Just as bringing a light into darkness causes the darkness to disappear, the Source of all Life descending into the abode of the dead resulted in Jesus’ victory over death, and not death’s victory over Jesus. This is the full reality of what Christ’s death and resurrection accomplished.
In the Icon, Jesus Christ stands victoriously in the centre. Robed in Heavenly white, He is surrounded by a mandorla of star-studded light, representing the Glory of God. Christ is shown dramatically pulling Adam, the first man, from the tomb. Eve is to Christ’s left, hands held out in supplication, also waiting for Jesus to act. This humble surrender to Jesus is all Adam and Eve need to do, and all they are able to do. Christ does the rest, which is why He is pulling Adam from the tomb by the wrist, and not the hand.
Surrounding the victorious Christ are John the Baptist and the Old Testament Righteous (Abel is shown as the young shepherd-boy). Those who predeceased Christ’s crucifixion descended to Hades, where they patiently waited the coming of their Messiah. Now they are freed from this underworld, and mingle freely with Christ and His angels.
And what of this underworld, Hades? It is shown in the aftershock of Christ’s descent into its heart – in utter chaos.
This event, known as the Harrowing of Hades, was taught from the very beginning of the Church. St. Melito of Sardis (died ca 180) in Homily on the Passion; Tertullian in A Treatise on the Soul, 55, Hippolytus in Treatise on Christ and Anti-Christ , Origen in Against Celsus, 2:43, and, later, St. Ambrose (died 397) all wrote of the Harrowing of Hell.
“Harrow” comes from the Old English word used to describe the ploughing of a field with a cultivator which is dragged roughly over the ground, churning it up. In the icon, Christ is shown with the instrument of His death plunged deep into Hades. Beneath Christ’s feet – which still carry the marks of His crucifixion – lay the gates of Hades, smashed wide open. Often they are shown laying in the shape of the Cross. Therefore, just as the hymns proclaim, so too does the Icon: Christ has trampled death by death.
Within the dark underworld are scattered broken chains and locks; and at the very bottom is the personified Hades, prostrate and bound. Hades is not destroyed – it is still there – but its power to bind people is gone. There are no chains, no locked doors. If only we raise our hands in supplication and longing for Jesus Christ, He is there to lift us from the grave.
Thou didst descend into the tomb, O Immortal,
Thou didst destroy the power of death!
In victory didst Thou arise, O Christ God,
…bestowing resurrection to the fallen.
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.