I was driving to meet some friends the other morning when a sign at a nearby church almost sent my car into the ditch – “Easter is over, but its rewards are eternal”.
I consider it a sign of Christian maturity that I didn’t immediately stop the car, whip into the parking lot, and offer these brothers and sisters in Christ some serious high-brow liturgical correction. I am in the process of becoming a recovering know-it-all, and you know, those of us in recovery have to claim the little victories.
The truth is that Easter isn’t over, because Easter is so much more than a day. The church I lead, like most churches, had a great time celebrating Resurrection day – we sang and we baptized and we proclaimed that the Lord is Risen and we went forth living into the new hope of the Easter Gospel.
As beautiful as Easter Sunday was and is, more beautiful is the truth that it can’t be contained in a single day. The church has long celebrated Easter as a 50-day season of hope and Resurrection-inspired possibility. For as long as there have been communities of Resurrection faith, there have been the great fifty days between Resurrection Day and Pentecost, fifty days of shouting and living into the truth that Christ is Risen.
We rejoice in a great fifty days – a great fifty days of celebrating, a great fifty days of resting and feasting, a great fifty days of living and hoping in the power of Resurrection, a great fifty days of reminding ourselves that with God all things are possible, a great fifty days of remembering the beauty of light shimmering and shining through the darkness, a great fifty days of rejoicing that death doesn’t get the life-destroying last word but that with Christ new life isn’t a dream but a God-given gift.
Easter is more than a day because one day isn’t enough to contain the promises of the empty tomb. The Easter Gospel life cycle is much longer than 24 hours – and always has been.
We remember that it took more than a day for Thomas to wrestle with his doubts and questions. We remember that it took more than a day for Peter to experience the forgiveness he craved to be the leader God had called him and the church needed him to be. Scripture reminds us again and again that the power of Resurrection unfolds and reveals itself long after Easter Sunday turned to Monday morning.
You and I, too, need Easter to be more than a day because the places in our lives where we need Resurrection take longer than a day to fix. We need more than a one-day blast of Resurrection because brokenness and despair require more than a 24-hour dose. We need more than a day to heal what ails us, we need more than a day to bind up our wounds and we need more than a day to repair the wreckage this lives within us and all around us.
And so for fifty days we proclaim that Christ is Risen and rejoice that there is a power greater than the powers that threaten to destroy us.
We proclaim that Christ is Risen and rejoice that the power that God has placed in us can break the bonds of addiction, can loosen the despair of anxiety and can free us from the prisons and walls we know by heart.
We proclaim that Christ is risen and rejoice that Resurrection means that there is a power that can break the systems of greed and exploitation and oppression that hold back our neighbors and prevent our friends from becoming all that God made them to be.
We proclaim that Christ is Risen because we all need to know the power of forgiveness and we need to be reminded that redemption is more than an idea but instead is a reality that God is bringing forth every single day.
Easter is more than a day. It is a revolution that is still unfolding, because the God of the empty tomb isn’t a god of one-offs. Light is still shining and love is still winning.
And for that, we will rejoice and give thanks.