Easter & the Regulative Principle of Worship

Where does Heritage Presbyterian Church stand on Easter? Some might think, does this even have to be asked? What kind of question is that?  

Historically in the early days of the Reformation, even up to just over 100 years ago, many Presbyterian churches would not celebrate Easter. The Scottish Presbyterians managed to remove observance of any “so called holy days,” other than the divinely prescribed Lord’s Day. It is true that many early Reformed Churches did proceed to partake in Easter services, but many historians argue that it was due to pressure for magistrates to preserve accustomed holidays. 

In 1557, John Calvin reiterated a firm opinion in a letter, “With respect to ceremonies and above all the observance of holy days, [I offer the following]: Although there are some who eagerly long to remain in conformity with such practices, I do not know how they can do so without disregard for the edification of the church, nor [do I know] how they can render an account to God for having advanced evil and impeded its solution…..Nevertheless, since we have to endure a number of imperfections when we cannot correct them, I am of the opinion that no brother ought to allow the above be the cause of his leaving his church, unless the majority support the opposite.” * 

Easter has been a common celebration and practice among all forms of Protestants, this is obvious. So where do we stand? 

We hold to The Regulative Principle of Worship. Our Directory of Public Worship of God (DPW) guides us as to Lord’s Day observance and worship. (you may wish to consult it at https://opc.org/BCO/DPW.html) We have 52 Holy Days a year, and they all land on Sunday, also known as The Lord’s Day.  

With that being said, it is very probable that you may hear a hearty sermon on the resurrection of Christ, and this is very good. There may be hymns sung that are resurrection focused. This is good as well. Like Christmas, our order of worship will look like most Lord’s days order of worship. 

Outside of the Order of Worship, we believe that families have the Christian liberty to have “Easter Celebrations” with egg hunts, bunny decorations, and enjoying various sweets. As far as our Church service goes, you won’t see any bunnies, Easter eggs, etc, etc. 

He is Risen. He is Risen, indeed. 

    * Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Advice, trans. by Mary Beaty and Benjamin W. Farley. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991, pg. 90.