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A great many things about spring can be considered to be descriptive of Easter as well.

Like the celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection - which, despite the childish attention to bunnies and colored eggs, is the real focus of Easter - spring is filled with feelings of rebirth, of newness, of hope, of coming forth out of a long winter into sunshine and warmth.Yet the two events - Easter and spring - should not be confused with one another. Although the symbolism of both have much in common, Easter is not a rite of spring. It is something far more profound and meaningful than the changing of seasons.

The message of Easter is rooted in historical fact - the life and death of Christ - and the religious conviction of Christians that his life and death were followed by life, a raising up of the mortal body into a glorified immortality.

And out of that resurrection is the promise that a similar victory over death awaits all mankind, that the grave is not the end, but only a doorway into continued existence, continued individuality, continued awareness, continued physical life.

Of course, not all people believe in the actuality of the resurrection, either for Christ or themselves. A vast collection of non-Christians have other concepts, up to and including a denial that there is life after death in any form. But such beliefs, or lack of belief, should not be used to denigrate or criticize the religious observance of Easter.

After all, the great message woven into the resurrection is hope, an assurance that there is more - indescribably more - to life than the brief span of mortal years between birth and death. And the resurrection, according to the words of Christ himself, is all-inclusive. Believers, non-believers, the wicked, the righteous, every living person since the dawn of creation, the whole family of mankind, will share in the great triumph over death.

Is this not cause for celebration, for rejoicing? Is this not magnificent reason for giving thanks to him who made it all possible? Is such a free gift not a cause for introspection and deep humility?

An awareness and acknowledgment of the great promise of the resurrection ought to make a difference in people's lives. It ought to make it clear that life has purpose and meaning. It ought to put things into a larger perspective that stretches beyond day-to-day events and helps to make choices in the light of eternal consequences.

When properly understood, Easter is the most glorious of all holidays and celebrations.