Empty Tomb, Empty Pew
I'm afraid many people think the way he does, and as a minister who pours heart and soul into composing a relevant resurrection-themed Easter message every year, I'm sorry that it may irritate anyone.
I don't think that the problem is that Ethan's not listening carefully enough, nor is it that he's an occasional drop-in to his UU congregation and couldn't possibly be expected to engage deeply in an Easter observance. Both of those things may be factors in why the people I call "God's All-Stars" only appear at Christmas and Easter and then go away making snarky remarks about the cliched nature of the service (I don't know if they do: I assume that some of them do. My family and I were occasional drop-ins to UU services for years, and that's what we did). It obviously isn't the case for Ethan.
I think it may be that Ethan is hearing sermons by ministers who are afraid to bring the fire of personal conviction into their Easter sermons because of potential criticism by disaffected Christians who have yet to gain a mature, affirmative faith of their own and so sneer at anything that smacks of their past experience. The flip side of that coin, of course, is that there are plenty of ministers who find no thrilling spiritual meaning at ALL in Easter and nevertheless feel compelled to mount a big production on that day. Neither reality makes for a great experience for either clergy or laity.
I agree with Ethan that to render Easter just Wow, Stuff is Growing Again Day is lame. To celebrate it as such year after year is inexcusably lame. There's a reason that every mystery religion in the Western world had a dead and resurrected god or goddess at its center, and that those mystery religions had so many devotees for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. And it ain't just because the daffodils pushed back up through the soil again. And it ain't just 'cause people are credulous simpletons. I love how UU ministers will discount Christians as superstitious ninnies and then speak of Plato and Sophocles in hushed, reverent tones, conveniently ignoring the fact that both those great geniuses of western civilization believed in, and worshiped, gods and supernatural beings.
It may be that Ethan is hearing messages watered down by worship committees who think Easter should be one thing and a minister who wishes it could be something else. It may be that Ethan is feeling the tensions of a congregation gathered on the holiest day of the Christian calendar, who have a wide variety of expectations, wounds and anxieties about what Easter is or should be. Perhaps that tension is negatively affecting the energy of the worshiping community.
I don't know. Perhaps Ethan will tell us more.
And meanwhile, plenty of UUs fly the coop for Holy Week observances elsewhere: www.philocrites.com
May Easter fill your heart with resurrection faith wherever you are.