We had wonderful Holy Week and Easter celebrations at St. Mary’s. For many folks, after April 24, Easter ended. I happened to be doing a little grocery shopping shortly after Easter Day and I noticed bins of Easter candy – peeps, candy bars in the shapes of bunnies and eggs, you name it. All of it was drastically reduced. The message was that Easter is over, and for our broader culture, it is. The Easter Bunny gets packed away along with the baskets. Candy that was a novelty and rather costly is now sold at bargain basement prices – who wants day old Easter candy?
Along with Holy Week and Easter Day, there is an Easter season. It is such a sacred time that it is a “week of weeks”, an extended time to celebrate resurrection and the new life that is ours in Christ. We’re in it now. Alleluia!
Treating Easter as being “over and done with” is not unlike what often happens in the days right after Christmas. Fueled by the ever-earlier commercials from retail stores (I’m waiting for an End-of-summer-back-to-school-stocking-stuffer-picture-with-Santa-sale) or the desire to generate some “holiday spirit” some trees are up already in October and several by early November. Then, the day after Christmas, that’s it. The trees are down, everything is packed, the manger is put away and it’s time to get ready for the next celebration, often Valentine’s Day, unless you happen to decorate for New Year’s Day.
For those of us who are part of Christian communities, especially churches with prayer based on a lectionary and liturgical calendar, we need to remember that these great feasts of our faith, and the incredible truths they teach us, take time to unfold, and we need to take them in, day by day, and continue to ponder this amazing gift of salvation.
So we are in the Season of Easter now. We need a whole season to reflect on this amazing truth: Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, came to be one of us, and one with us, in great humility. He preached the good news of his heavenly Father, worked amazing signs, healed, and proclaimed that the kingdom is unfolding… now! He ultimately laid down his life because his teaching and message were too threatening and contrary to what those in religious and political leadership could stand. He took upon himself all that is sinful, broken and evil in our world and in our own hearts, and he died on a cross. Then, as he and as Scriptures said he would, he rose from the dead. With St. Paul, we proclaim, “Where is your victory, O death? Where is your sting?”
After his resurrection, he appeared to many of his disciples and he told them, in essence, to get to work! Depending on which gospel you read, the job description for follows of the risen Christ includes: baptize, teach, make disciples, preach forgiveness and repentance, offer forgiveness in the name of Jesus, break bread, feed Christ’s lambs, tend and feed his sheep, believe, trust, and know that he is with us always, until the end of time.
Blessings to you during this Easter season! One great way to celebrate would be to read each of the resurrection narratives in the Bible: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 &21. I’ve been on retreat this week and have spent time with these powerful texts. I have been deeply blessed by doing so and I encourage you to do the same.
So… I guess like the Christmas tree and Santa we can let the Bunny and the baskets and the chicks and all the rest of it have a place as part of how we celebrate and mark this sacred time.
But it’s really all about Jesus. What a blessing and what a gift is our new life in Christ!