Some Christian traditions celebrate the Monday immediately following Easter Sunday as a holiday. Easter Monday, as it is called, provides Christians with the opportunity to relish and reflect on the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection at greater length the morning after Easter.
Easter Monday is the second day of the Easter Octave (eight days) as well as Eastertide (fifty days). Easter Monday is important given that so many special days in the church calendar took place in quick succession, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. It is important to catch one’s breath and take Holy Week to heart with a look to the future.
Rather than lose sight of Easter Sunday or leave it in the rearview mirror, as with most holidays, Easter Monday helps us to live into its import for the rest of the Christian year. After all, Jesus didn’t crawl into the cave, curl up in a ball, and die again on Monday. He lives forever! Jesus’ followers must come to terms with the fact that he is victorious over the threat of despair. There can be no such thing as going back to business as usual the morning after. So, what does it look like to live in view of Jesus’ victory and not fall prey to despair?
In my last post, I reflected on Jesus identifying fully with us in our suffering, including my son incapacitated by TBI. Jesus even hangs with those who experience existential limbo, living somewhere between life and death. His abiding presence is incredibly comforting to those of us whose lives are hanging in the balance.
But thank God we will not endure existential limbo forever. Just think if Holy Saturday did not give rise to Easter Sunday. Just think if the clock were to stop at 11:59 pm Saturday, or if we simply skipped Easter Sunday. All we would have to show for the weekend are the Monday morning blues.
Easter is an annual reminder that we do not have to live in a rut. We don’t have to keep running in circles on life’s hamster wheel. In fact, every Sunday is supposed to serve as a reminder that God breaks into our lives. That is why Christians gather for worship on the first day of the week. Each Sunday calls to mind Resurrection Day. Every day that follows flows from Sunday and leads to the next Sunday throughout the year. It all begins with Sunday and leads right into Monday and carries on throughout the week.
All one needs to do is read the Acts of the Apostles to realize that Jesus’ followers took to heart the good news of the empty tomb. Those who were once fainthearted, hiding from Jesus’ enemies, now move forward as if they themselves came out of the grave. Like Jesus, they did not cower in view of hate and indifference. Rather, they go forward to conquer, not to get even, but to make whole in view of Jesus’ death-defying love. (I am indebted to N.T. Wright for this take on doing justice Jesus’ way: Jesus does not get even. He makes whole.)
In “Living In Limbo,” I wrote the following words: “You may be experiencing chronic physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. You may not see any end in sight. Like me, you may feel as if you are in a state of limbo, not in the realm of the dead per say, but rather dangling by a thread in a fragile state of existence somewhere between the living and the dead.”
While “living in limbo” did not end on Saturday for my family or me in caring for my son suffering from TBI, I take to heart what I wrote on Saturday: “I experience comfort in knowing that this state of existential limbo will not last forever.” Easter Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is there for the taking to break through the limbo with God’s undying love. Easter Monday reminds me that the living Lord Jesus upholds me and will not allow life in limbo to last indefinitely.
Easter Monday helps me not to give way to the Monday morning blues. It helps me to keep going and not despair. And so, I will keep fighting, not to get even, but to make whole, every day of the week. Here I am reminded of Frederick Douglas, who told a young abolitionist what he needed to do in the fight against slavery: “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate.” Similarly, I must not give up on the fight against the threat of death in caring for my son bound to a bed and wheelchair: “Advocate. Advocate. Advocate.”
How can I keep going in advocating for my son, even when I wake up Monday morning and must start the fight for life all over again? How can you and I keep advocating for others, and caring for ourselves? By reminding ourselves that the reality of Easter did not end this Sunday.
The same Jesus who rose this Sunday is there with us this Monday morning. He breaks through the harsh unreality, the recurring monotonous and even viscous cycle of negligence, indifference, exhaustion, and hate.
Jesus also breaks through in the lives of those I see around me who don’t give in to this vicious cycle either. They are attentive, resilient, and empathic. I take note of their example and celebrate them. Like a great cloud of witnesses, they are all around me. They chase the storm clouds away. Like Jesus, they inspire me and give me the courage to encourage others and myself to rise to the occasion. After all, Jesus rose to the occasion and makes it possible for all of us to do the same.
Jesus rose on Sunday. He’s wide awake today. My Lord treads on dread. He raises my faith, hope, and love from the dead. Easter Monday, not the Monday morning blues, will have the final say.