So, It’s Easter. Yes, it’s still Easter. Easter is a season, not just a day. A fifty day season to be exact.
Too bad there isn’t a catchy little song, like, “on the 34th day of Easter my true love gave to…”
But, alas. There isn’t.
And, alas—if your church is anything like any church I’ve ever been too, attendance will be a little smaller this week than it was last week. Perhaps it will be among the least attended Sundays of the church year.
Obviously, that’s because everyone was absolutely swamping the church on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday—and so after 20 hours in the church last week, this week they need a little breather.
But, I digress.
On this second Sunday of Easter, I want to start off by talking about Lent.
I stirred up a little controversy (And it really was just a slight one…controversy may not even be the right word. People raised their eyebrows. My favorite kind of controversy.) when I told a couple of people in the parish that they were permitted to relinquish their Lenten fasts on Sundays in Lent, because…Sundays aren’t days of fasting.
“What?!” <insert raised eyebrows here>
Yes. It’s true. If you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, without counting the Sundays, you get forty days. The forty days of Lent. The forty days of Lent are calculated by omitting the Sundays.
If you included the Sundays, it’d be 46 days. If you counted backwards from Easter by forty days, Ash Wednesday wouldn’t be “Ash Wednesday.” It’d be…Ash Monday. Ash Wednesday became Ash Wednesday because ancient liturgists counted forty days back from Easter, purposefully omitting the Sundays.
I’m told that in some places, at some times during Christian history the Season of Lent didn’t include Sundays OR Saturdays. Which meant Lent was a week longer.
But, of course, the question that rises to the surface here is: Why? Why aren’t Sundays included in Lent?
Because Sundays are NEVER fast days. They are feast days. Every single Sunday is a Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord. Every single Sunday is a celebration of Easter. Even the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Even the 3rd Sunday in Advent. Even when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday.
Even all the Sundays in Lent.
All feasts of the Resurrection.
The first Christians were, of course, Jewish, whose holy day is Saturday. But, those same first Christians gathered together on Sunday—even though it was a “work day” and not a day of rest—because Sunday was the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
And so, every Sunday is a holy day. Every Sunday is a celebration.
And, you don’t fast on days of feasting. So, Sundays in Lent are feast days, set in the midst of a season of fasting.
Now, does that mean that you absolutely must indulge in chocolate, alcohol, or Facebook on Sundays in Lent? Of course not. Unless those things are critical to your spiritual observance of the Resurrection. You may still abstain from whatever you’re abstaining from.
If you must feel like an “Iron Man,” with nuclear-powered willpower, then go right ahead.
But, what’s of ultimate importance, is that you honor and give thanks to God for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I think that’s important to say on this Sunday. When some of the trumpet lilies have browned, the tulips have gone a little white, the brass have gone off to do whatever they do when it’s not Christmas or Easter, and the church photocopier is a little less taxed in it’s weekly bulletin production.
It’s still Easter. It’s still a celebration of the resurrection of Our Lord.
And, so it is every Sunday.