Pastor’s Perspective – May 2023
More Than a Holy Day
Most Americans do all the work of Easter before the holiday occurs. We get our Easter baskets ready, color our eggs, and prepare the Easter egg hunt. In our Churches we have Lenten studies, create worship experiences, and get the Church prepared for visitors. We do all of the work of the church targeting a particular holiday and then when the day is complete, we move on to the next thing.
The day after Easter we clean up the ever-annoying Easter grass, put away the leftovers from the Easter dinner, and then on Monday we return to a decidedly non-resurrected world. It is important to note that the Church calendar does not see the world as most Christians do.
The Church waits for the holiday, and then continues the celebration of the resurrection for weeks. It is the same way with Christmas. Christmas is celebrated around the world in traditional and Orthodox Church settings for weeks after December 25. It’s fascinating to me that while many of us sing of the 12 days of Christmas, we don’t realize that the 12 days of Christmas begins on December 25 and extends all the way to the fest of Epiphany in January. The day in which the Church recognizes the coming of the wise man. Christmas is celebrated for 12 days after December 25 not before.
It’s the same with Easter. Easter is an unfolding holiday. It is a revelation that is intended to slowly take root in our lives. For weeks after the empty tomb was witnessed, Jesus slowly reveals himself. First to Mary, then to the 12, then to the men walking to Emmaus and Thomas. Slowly but surely, Jesus reveals Himself over time.
Jesus appears in closed rooms. Jesus shows up at the shore while the disciples are fishing. Jesus walks and talks and shares and eats and does all the things that He did in life in His resurrected form. Jesus does this over a period of weeks, but the 21st century American Church tends to close the book on Easter after the day is over. We close the book on something that took weeks to unfold and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to truly comprehend.
On Easter Sunday we say, He Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed! But then we move on to the next day and quickly forget that He Is Risen! There was a reason that Jesus appeared and revealed Himself over weeks of time. It reinforced the reality of the resurrection. As we build experience upon experience, story upon story, revelation upon revelation, we slowly grow in relationship in love with the Triune God. And just like Christmas brings us to epiphany, so does Easter bring us to another holy day, the day of Pentecost.
God is leading us through the Holy Days, not just to them. God continually opens our eyes, revealing to us more and more as we walk with God.
The tragedy is that so many people walk to the threshold, but never move through. We walk to the wonder of an experiential moment but never take the time to form the fullness of a relationship with God. Jesus calls us to life together, through His life, His passion, and His resurrection. We learn by walking with Him, watching what He does, listening to what He says, celebrating His presence, living in harmony with each, and never ceasing to proclaim His glory.
This cannot be done on a single Holy day, but it was never intended to be that way. Resurrection life is only real when we celebrate and live in it forever. He Is Risen! Indeed!