“Easter is a season.”
If you’ve been around the church for a while, my guess is that you’ve heard that more than once- from the pulpit, in the parish newsletter, or on a Facebook page. (I’m pretty sure I’m guilty on that last one.)
Easter is a season- that lasts 50 days. 50 days! That’s a bump up from the usual church period of 40 days (40 days of Lent, 40 days in the wilderness, 40 days of Noah bobbing around in his boat) which is bible-speak for “a long time.” Easter is 50 days. Or, really, 40 days + 10 days.
The season of Easter extends from the Easter Vigil to the Day of Pentecost (50 days) with the Ascension of Jesus taking place on Day 40. “Ascensiontide” (the 10 days between Ascension and Pentecost) occurs simultaneously with the final days of Eastertide. Because Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, it is not the best-attended service of the church year… but it marks a really significant moment in the story of our faith when Jesus leaves the disciples on the mountaintop, commissioned to spread the good news in his name and waiting for the comforting and empowering Holy Spirit to arrive. (cue the Pentecost flames.)
Ascension Day, this year, is on May 10th.
I wonder what our experience of Eastertide is like. Some churches omit the Confession in this liturgical season. We sing the rest of the Easter hymns and manage to stretch out the life of the lilies and hyacinth and tulips with careful misting and watering. The altar is draped in pure white or a festal array. But what else? If it is a season, how do we live it out differently than other seasons? We are pretty good in the Church about finding ways to mark Lent and Advent- we join study groups or deny ourselves in various ways, we ditch Facebook or take on a new spiritual practice- but how do we live out this season of extraordinary joy and wonder?
This year, I’ve been struck, more than ever, about the mystery of the resurrection. I have long known that the core of my faith is really centered in those mysterious three days in the tomb in which God effected God’s greatest miracle- the miracle of the transformation of death into new life. I’ve not been one to align myself as comfortably with the theology of atonement and the sacrificial offering of Jesus on the cross, but find myself, instead, drawn to the deep mystery and darkness of the tomb and God’s work in those long days of mourning, fear and confusion that, in the brightness of Easter dawn turn darkness to light and death to life.
I don’t understand it. And I don’t need to. If I had been offered a set of x-ray goggles to see God at work in the tomb, I would have declined- because it is not how God did it that matters to me, but why God did it- Why God raised Jesus from the dead- that is important: for our salvation, hope and eternal life.
And so, I find myself, this Eastertide, walking around in a little bit of a cloud, enjoying the mystery of it all. Allowing myself to know that sometimes things don’t make sense (this is new territory for this Myers Briggs ENTJ) and that in order for us to believe, a clear accounting and parsing of the resurrection event is not necessary. That, I suppose, is one definition of faith.
Tell me- us- how you live in this Easter season.
How do you express the joy of God’s triumphant act, and show it in your life?