The liturgical churches organize time in segments that generally follow the life of Jesus, allowing believers to focus on various themes for varying amounts of time. It begins with Advent, the time of preparation for his birth (and second coming), followed by Christmas during which we celebrate the arrival of God in the flesh. The Church then enters the time of Epiphany, which commemorates the revelation of Christ to the world as the magi come to homage to the newborn King. The Church then shifts focus to Lent and Holy Week, a time of penitence and self-reflection in preparation for Jesus’ Passion and death. Then, it’s Easter! When the Easter cycle is complete (7 Sundays during which the Church remains focused on praising and glorifying the risen Christ), the Church marks Jesus’ Ascension into heaven which is immediately followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Christians continue to build their relationship with Jesus through the season of Pentecost until it is time again for Advent.
Therefore it would seem that Easter is almost over. Yesterday, we celebrated Christ’s resurrection in songs and hymns, in the reading of the Easter Gospels, in shouting “Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!” Gathered together for this most momentous occasion in history, we remembered that through Jesus’ rise from the dead, death has been overcome once and for all. The victory has been won! Today, our hearts are filled with the knowledge that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God. The Church will continue to reflect on and celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord over the next 7 weeks.
But will Easter really be over at the end of the 7 weeks of the Easter Season? No!
Easter as the celebration of the return of spring, the time of the Easter Bunny, chocolate filled baskets, new clothes to wear on Easter morning, the delicious family-centered breakfasts and brunches, and that special Easter dinner is over for the year. Using those criteria, “Easter” is now over. But the true Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection, through which we have received assurance that Christ is alive, today, tomorrow and forever continues daily (well beyond the end of the Church’s Easter season), as each day we are washed clean by the waters of our baptism.
Through the Resurrection, Christ makes all things new. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:4-5, NRSV)
As God’s loved, redeemed and forgiven children, we are to bring a word of hope and consolation to those who grieve, work to bring justice to the oppressed, love our neighbors as ourselves, care for God’s creation - - - you get the picture – be a part of making this world a better place. To work side by side with Jesus and each other to help restore creation to its fullest glory – the glory that was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. In doing so, we walk in the knowledge of the central truth of our faith, Easter is never over. “Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Gracious God, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may continue to sing "Alleluia! Christ is Risen" each and every day. In the name of the Risen Lord we pray. Amen