Welcome to the season of Eastertide!
Thank God that our celebration of the resurrection of Christ is not limited to one day, that our cheers of freedom and our high hopes in life are not meant to be contained to Resurrection Sunday.
How appropriate that, after forty days of the difficult, inner work of the season of Lent, we are given the gift of fifty glorious days of celebration. I don’t know about you but, I need it!
Over the next fifty days, we will continue to celebrate the resurrection. During our times together on Sunday mornings, we’ll be looking at several of the post-resurrection encounters with Jesus. My hope is that all the new life that the resurrection makes available may be found in our midst.
To that end, I’d like to share some thoughts of one of my most trusted theologians, N.T. Wright. May these words and the truth of Christ’s resurrection inspire us to new life in this Eastertide season!
“…My biggest problem starts on Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday…and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration.
“…Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?
“…We should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins…
“In particular, if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again…of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time…that’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds…Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The [fifty] days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. …It might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.”
A blessed Eastertide to you,