It is my prayer that our Parish and each of us will grow in our spiritual life during this season of Lent
May God bless us in our preparation to celebrate The Resurrection of the Lord
Easter is not just a day (Easter Sunday); no, in the Church Year, Easter is a season (commonly referred to as Eastertide), lasting 50 days, where the Church’s celebration focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the words of the most recent edition of the Covenant Book of Worship, Eastertide is “the most festive of all seasons because Jesus is alive and death has been conquered. This is critical because the Christian hope of eternal life is contingent upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
One of the ways we Christians who follow the Church Year have gotten a bit off track is by how Advent / Christmas has supplanted the Easter season as the most important season in the year. I suspect this has as much to do with being barraged by our consumerist culture and overwhelmed by the amount and expectations that accrue to our family traditions, festivities, and the like, as it has to do with our theology. However, it is easier to make more palatable and appealing a miracle baby in a manger than it is an emaciated innocent martyr on a cross.
New Testament scholar and churchman N.T. Wright states “… Christmas itself has now far outstripped Easter in popular culture as the real celebratory center of the Christian year – a move that completely reverse the New Testament’s emphasis. We sometimes try, in hymns, prayers, and sermons, to build a whole theology on Christmas, but it can’t in fact sustain such a thing. We then keep Lent, Holy Week, and Good Friday so thoroughly that we have hardly any energy left for Easter except the first night and day. Easter, however, should be the center. Take that away and there is, almost literally, nothing left.” (from Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright, p. 23, 2008).
I agree. When N.T. Wright says without Easter there is nothing left, he means that without the bodily resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope. Wright is echoing Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:14, where the Apostle states that “… if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Useless… without value… kaput!
BUT, because Jesus has been raised, gloriously resurrected, we should embrace and, dare I say, bask in the joy of the Easter season! Our worship should be particularly joyous. Our lives filled with wonder, awe and gratitude at the marvel of God’s salvation that Christ’s resurrection secures. Easter joy should permeate all the other seasons of the Church Year (therefore, the entirety of our lives) and give them their definition. And that’s true even of Lent.
For even Lent, the most penitential and reflective season of self-examination and self denial is 40 week days. Lent, technically, does not include the Sundays that occur during its season. Why? Because every Sunday in the year is the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Resurrection joy always trumps even the deepest sorrow and sadness of sin.
So, don’t shortchange yourself this Easter season. Enter fully into all the joy and wonder and redeeming power and grace of Christ’s resurrection. Let that reality inform and shape the entirety of not only this year, but all your days!
Have a blessed and Happy Easter. Yours in the Love of Christ,
Fr. Krzysztof M. Mendelewski – Pastor of St. Valentine’s PNCC