Part 2 of series:
Introduction to Eastertide: The Season of Easter
In my last post, I shared my personal discovery of Eastertide, the fifty-day season of the Christian year set apart to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and its implications for our lives. I promised to explain a bit further how one might give Easter its due by devoting more time and attention to this crucial holiday.
I’m sure some of my blog readers are wondering: “Fifty days of Easter? What would we do?” Surely I’m not suggesting fifty consecutive Easter egg hunts, or fifty new Easter dresses, or fifty ham dinners in a row. Celebrating Easter for fifty days is not duplicating Easter Sunday fifty times over, either. Rather, it’s taking time to reflect upon and delight in the truth of Easter and its implications for our lives.
The basic truth of Easter is simple. In the classic litany of the church, it’s this: Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! On Easter Sunday, we celebrate this good news, rediscovering for ourselves what the earliest followers of Jesus realized on that first Easter Sunday. Yet the implications of the resurrection are more than we can adequately ponder on one day. Every year, during my sixteen-year pastoral tenure at Irvine Presbyterian Church, when I prepared my Easter sermon, I left dozens of life-changing truths on the cutting room floor. There’s no way I could begin to probe the depths of Easter in a mere 20 minutes. So, I proclaimed the basic truth of the resurrection and explained one or perhaps two implications.
Eastertide provides an opportunity to see “the director’s cut” of the Easter sermon, if you will. The season of Easter gives us a chance to reflect more broadly and deeply on the multifaceted meaning of the resurrection of Jesus. What might this involve? Let me suggest a few ideas:
• You could meditate upon what the resurrection says about the character of Jesus Christ as the Righteous One of God (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:25-28).
• You might ponder the fact that death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
• You could reflect upon the fact that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you today (Ephesians 1:15-23).
• You might think of how the resurrection of Jesus is a precursor to your own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
• You could consider how the resurrection gives us “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).And so on. And so on. Eastertide allows us to think deeply and to pray broadly about what the resurrection of Jesus means, both to us and to our world.
Now some of my Reformed friends who are less inclined to recognize Eastertide might at this point object: “Look, for Christians, every Sunday is a kind of Easter. That’s why we Christians worship on Sunday rather than Saturday, after all. So why do we need a season to reflect upon what we should be thinking about every single week?” My answer is that many of us forget the Easter dynamic of weekly Sunday worship. Setting aside a season to focus on the meaning of the resurrection doesn’t deny the importance of weekly Sunday worship. In fact, it can enhance it.
Some of my evangelical friends would no doubt remind me at this point that the celebration of Eastertide is nowhere required in Scripture. This is an important reminder, because I do not mean to imply that every Christian must set aside fifty days for Easter celebration or else be in violation of God’s directives. But, I would argue that taking time to reflect intentionally on the biblical understanding of Easter, though it may not be required in Scripture, can certainly help us go deeper in our understanding of biblical truth as it pertains to the resurrection.
If nothing else, recognizing Eastertide gives us a chance to take the truths of Scripture and to allow them to percolate in our hearts. I don’t know about you, but I need this sort of percolation.
What would happen in our lives if we went through each day with a sixth-sense awareness of the resurrection? What would we attempt if we truly believed that the power that raised Jesus from the dead was available to us? What difference would it make if we knew for sure that death has been defeated through Christ?
Even if you aren’t ready to view Easter as a fifty-day experience, perhaps you can take some time today to think and pray about some aspect of Easter truth that, to this point, you’ve neglected. If you do, you’ll begin to taste the richness of Eastertide.
Tomorrow, I’ll write about some other ways, besides thinking, that we can extend and deepen our celebration of Easter.