Easter was two weeks ago, but it feels like it was a lot longer than that. One of the things I appreciate about my more liturgical friends both here in town and around the country is the connection they have with the larger church outside the four walls of their local congregation. Don’t get me wrong – there are a host of reasons I attend a non-liturgical church, and I do so by choice, but just as I believe my liturgical friends have much to learn from us I believe that I have equally as much to learn from them, and this whole church-year thing is one of them.
See, in the church calendar Easter isn’t a day – it’s an entire season – and a long one at that (8 weeks – second in length only to the season of Pentecost). Our culture is so “busy” and fast-paced that it seems as if holidays are gone before they even happen. Take Christmas, for instance, the after-Christmas discounts seem to start before December 25th as stores try to get those last-minute shoppers. And as soon as Christmas is over our stores are decorated and prepared for Valentine’s Day.
Easter was here two weeks ago, but it seems like a distant memory to most people I speak with. We’re already preparing for Memorial Day weekend (because we’ve just passed Mother’s Day), which is the start of summer. Some churches in the area are already planning an extra mid-week service (on Thursday night) so that when people travel out of town for the weekend (generally to the river or the beach) they can still attend church before they leave!
But the liturgical calendar – the church calendar – helps us take a pause and remember what really is important. Easter isn’t something to celebrate once a year but once a week – it’s why we worship on Sunday, after all! During Holy Week Melissa and I did a special devotional (by special I mean different than our normal one), and I attended some extra worship times with friends and family to help me focus on the work Christ accomplished on the cross. And then when Easter came it came and went.
In my Friday morning men’s group this past week we were still talking about it, though. As we looked at examples from scripture of post-resurrection yet pre-ascension appearances of Jesus, we studied and discussed ways to see God in everything we experience and do. For this group of men – all from traditions that follow the church calendar – Easter wasn’t over; it had just begun.
Which brought up the question we discussed that morning: how can we live every moment of every day in the light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection? What difference does the fact that Jesus rose from the grave make in our lives every day?
The answer should start with words like “everything” or “transformational.” In order to answer the question we need to remember we live in a post-resurrection world – a world where death has been defeated but where evil still reigns. That means we’re at war – a war that will ultimately be won, but a war none-the-less. Let us not take treat Easter as just another holi”day”, but live it everyday. Don’t be afraid to encourage others in their faith, reminding them of the resurrection of Jesus. Celebrate Easter – sing songs of Easter and read Easter stories, because Easter isn’t done and over with – and it certainly wasn’t the end of the story. No, Easter is just the beginning.
Too bad we don’t treat it that way.