It’s easy to get a little frustrated by Easter, isn’t it?
Now I don’t mean Easter Sunday itself. The bright colours, the unbridled enthusiasm about Christ’s once-and-for-all (all time, and all people) victory over sin and death, the feasting, the celebratory worship music, the family time and the feasting are all fantastic. (Yes, I know I said ‘feasting’ twice.)
But doesn’t it seem a little off-balance that we spend 40 days in grey penitence (and one of those in the blackest of blacks), but our Easter cascade of colour and rejoicing is usually confined to just one day? We spent six weeks brooding about how badly we need salvation, and then just one day celebrating the achievement of that salvation.
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
It’s not right, and it’s not the way God, nor even the church, intended. It’s important to remember that Easter Sunday is not merely the first day after the Season of Lent, it’s also the start of Eastertide – a seven-week season that takes us to Pentecost Sunday (which falls on June 8 this year).
Easter ain’t just one day.
And if we choose to actively participate in Eastertide, I think Easter Sunday 2.0 on April 27 can be even more meaningful than April 20 was. Imagine experiencing the joy and wonder of the Empty Tomb, and the euphoria of meeting the resurrected Jesus in the locked room without having to worry about what time to put the turkey in. Or immersing yourself in the Road to Emmaus story without being preoccupied by wondering if you’ll be able to leave for Aunt Martha’s in time. Or putting yourself in Peter’s place when he saw Jesus standing on the shore of the Sea of Galillee, with your faculties unfettered by the buzz that comes when you eat ten too many mini-eggs.
Imagine experiencing the heavenly holiness of Easter without all the earthly distractions we tack onto it, all in effort (ironically) to make it more special.
That’s what Eastertide is for, and it’s available to all of us. So read your Bible as devoutly (or moreso) for the next six weeks as you did for the previous six. Attend church as regularly (or moreso) and engage with the teaching, worship and prayer as passionately (or moreso) as you did during Lent. It’s all there for the receiving, and you won’t regret it; I promise!
As SNL Weekend Update Host 1.0 Chevy Chase might put it: ‘Our top story tonight: Alleluia, Christ is still risen. He is still risen indeed. Alleluia!’
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But if, despite your best efforts, the rest of the season ends up feeling, well, ‘pretty normal’, don’t assume that’s a bad thing.
We use the liturgical seasons of the Christian calendar to help keep God’s story fresh, and help us to experience it anew every year. Therefore, most of the other liturgical seasons are about looking back, or looking forward.
But Eastertide celebrates the present reality in which we all live: Christ is risen. Sin and death are defeated. Salvation is available to all who are willing to receive it. Not way back then, not sometime in the future.
The Easter season began two millennia ago, when Jesus walked out of the tomb, and it has continued, uninterrupted, ever since.
Jesus came, lived and taught, died and rose, to bring about a new normal for humanity, and in a sense, it’s the only normal any of us have ever known. So if we can’t maintain the Easter Sunday ‘high’ for six full weeks, that’s understandable, and I think it’s OK. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re bad people or bad Christians; on the contrary, it might mean we’re living into the new normal that Easter ushers in, to such an extent that it’s normal for us.
As C.S. Lewis put it, ‘A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet.’
Thanks to Jesus, we are water animals, and Easter is the water in which we swim.
Alleluia, Christ is risen.
Peace be with you.
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