During the forty days of Lent each year we spend time getting ready for the celebration of Easter. There is fasting, self-denial, prayer, intensified devotion, scripture study, and other disciplines designed to cleanse our hearts.
Then, comes the big celebration. Easter. Like so many Christian holy days, Easter seems to disappear the next day as life returns to "normal." But Easter should be more than that to us! It certainly was to those early disciples. Easter is more than a day!
Easter is a season of celebration. The Risen Christ walked among his disciples for forty days after his resurrection. He taught them, ate with them, prayed with them, and loved them. Before he was taken up into heaven, he promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The promise was fulfilled on the fiftieth day when they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Jewish feast of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. In Greek, it is called Pentecost. Pentecost is seven weeks, or fifty days, after the observance of Passover and commemorates the spring wheat harvest. This feast has also been associated with the remembrance of the giving of the Law to Moses. As the law was written on tablets of stone, the Spirit would write God's law upon the hearts of believers. When Moses came down from the mountain, he found God's people worshipping an idol and 3,000 of them died. When the Spirit was given, the disciples were obediently waiting in Jerusalem. 3,000 people were saved! The New People of the New Covenant were empowered by the Life-giving Spirit to be Christ's Body in the world, proclaiming to everyone the Easter message that Christ is alive.
Easter is a lifestyle. We are Easter People! As those early disciples in Jerusalem, Emmaus, and Galilee experienced the living presence of the Risen Christ, so we recognize that he stands among us today. To paraphrase Jesus, "believing is seeing." When we hear the Word and share in the Holy Meal, it is easier to experience his presence "enthroned upon the praises of his people." The challenging part comes when we go about our day-to-day lives. As Christ's Body touches the world through you and me when we are apart from one another, do you suppose the Living Presence is felt?
Easter is our only hope. St. Peter writes, "By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." (I Peter 1:3). There is a lot of help out there for people with all kinds of needs. But Christians believe that beyond help, people need hope. So what if you are physically or emotionally well. Life is just not complete without hope. The Easter faith gives the world hope.
So, don't let Easter fade like the blooms on your Easter Lily! Easter is more than a day; it is a season, a lifestyle, and a faith that fills our lives with hope.
The Very Rev'd Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church