I once saw a funny meme on a T-shirt. It read, “on the eighth day we started bulldozing.” I saw two different messages involved there. The obvious message concerned environmental stewardship. The not as obvious message is really simple. What happened on the eighth day of Creation? I first heard of Easter Monday when I moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was a traditional day off of the Moravian Church that first settled Salem. We have nothing like that on the Tennessee said of the border. Nope. Easter was over after dinner. Monday was life with the normal drudgery. The question remains though. What happens on Easter Monday?
The Forty Days
Pastors know all the Scripture has to tell about the forty days of post-Resurrection appearances of Christ. There is not a whole lot of information about them. Acts 1 tells it was forty days from the Resurrection to Ascension day. Pentecost is ten more days later.
The following Sunday is often called “low Sunday.” Pastors know all too well why too. The sanctuaries may be full on Easter Sunday morning. We know they won’t be the following Sunday. My personal experience is that the lowest attendance for the year is that Sunday. I have colleagues who have attempted to make up for this.
The Sunday of Holy Humor
The best attempt I heard to encourage attendance is the Sunday of Holy Humor. I hear choirs wearing fright wigs and playing kazoos are sometimes involved. It sounds like a good idea. After all of the planning and doing the worship times of Holy Week and Easter, everyone needs to shed the stress. Holy Humor appears to be a healthy way to do it.
There are killjoys in every congregation. And some of them will express concern over the need for dignity. I want to consider the dignity of worship after Easter.
Jesus does not expect to incite fear or what we call “reverence” after the Resurrection. He does not knock on the door before appearing to the disciples. There is no, “look here Thomas you should believe what everyone tells you about me.” And what’s with the picture John gives of the Resurrected Christ – a heavenly being no less – cooking and serving fish early in the morning. He does it before the apostles bring in their haul of fish.
Everything done post-resurrection is not expedient. None of the actions are dignified. All questions are not answered. No one, not even doubting Thomas, is scolded. Luke tells us Jesus skipped Easter Sunday dinner just after the bread was broken. He later has some fish with the apostles to ease their minds. The events after Easter heal the hurt, bewilderment, and fear from Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It is really too bad that Judas didn’t live to see it.
The Woman With The Alabaster Jar
The reading for today is Mark 14:3-9. A woman pours a costly perfume on Jesus before his burial. The apostles are indignant. John 12 is the alternative reading. Judas expresses the apostolic protest. The price tag of the oil was 300 denarii. Judas argues the money could be better used to help the poor. Jesus is cool with helping the poor. But he opposes Judas and the apostles condemning the woman. John tells us the fragrance of the oil filled the whole house. Everyone present was able to enjoy the perfume. I really feel sorry for Judas in this story. I feel sorry for pastors who believe that it is imperative to give the Easter crowd a guilt trip about the death of Jesus on the day of Resurrection.
The Bright Week
Killjoys are not doing God’s work when they condemn other people’s service to God. Easter Monday and every day that follows is for letting Resurrection do its work within us. Be open to the surprises of living. Allow doubting Thomas to be comforted by his Lord and God. Tell Peter that his denials are forgiven. Let Mary Magdalene rejoice in ways that make everyone else think she is crazy.
Our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Orthodox tradition suspend the weekly fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays during Easter Week. Lent is over for heaven’s sake. They call it “Bright Week” because the light of Christ is never ending. Heaven and joy has returned to the earth. Creation is being redeemed. As St Paul claimed, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15: 54) It is a victory that allows St John the Divine to declare “Behold, all things are being made new.” (Revelation 21:5).