On the day of the resurrection, some of the followers of Jesus went to the tomb. They were going to make the final preparations of Jesus’ body, for he had been buried with haste.
And when they got there, they were met with the amazing revelation that Jesus was…no longer dead. He was dead, but now he wasn’t anymore.
He was very much alive. And different. Mary didn’t recognize him. He had to speak her name so that she knew it was him. He wasn’t just resuscitated. This was something different. He was made new.
But, this wasn’t just something that happened in the morning. He came back in the evening, and met the disciples in the upper room. He also met two other disciples on the road to Emmaus that evening.
The Easter event was an all day thing. Some people think that the early Christians worshipped on Easter night because of all of the events which happened on that first Easter night.
But, that wasn’t all.
Because, he kept coming back. He came back to the upper room, he had breakfast with them on the beach, he brought them together when he gave them a great commission and ascended into heaven.
The resurrection was an event that went on and on.
Then, the apostles kept the resurrection business going, with their ministries, healing, and preaching. All of it, a witness to the resurrection.
Each year we begin the 40 days of lent with Ash Wednesday, and an invitation for all of us to live a holy lent. “Dear people of God, the first Christians observed with great devotion…” I always get goosebumps when I read those words aloud each year.
But, have we missed the boat? Why an invitation to a Holy Lent and not also an invitation to a Holy Easter? Why do we treat the 40 days of lent with great devotion, and mistake the 50 days of Easter for a morning’s work.
How many clergy will post to Facebook or Twitter on Easter Day something akin to: “Jesus has risen…now I’m going to bed.”
Like the collapse of the 12 days of Christmas into a morning’s work of unwrapping presents, we’ve shrunk the Great Fifty days into a few hours as well.
I think Easter should have just as much a stirring invitation as Lent. I think we should observe with great devotion the season of Resurrection. I think we should invite our people to be witnesses to the resurrection, not just with a large-brimmed hat and a powder blue suit on a Sunday morning…but with a month and a half.
And then a life.
For that is the life of the baptized. We are to be living witnesses to the one who conquered death and lives still. We should be able to tell the story of his resurrection, but we should also be highly attuned to the stories of resurrection that are around us. The ways we’ve seen resurrection, experienced resurrection, felt resurrection.
Dear People of God, on the day of resurrection, and on the days immediately following, the disciples saw and experienced the Risen Christ again and again. Jesus spoke to them, called them by name, offered them his peace, fed them, broke bread with them, and sent them out. The first Christians observed the celebrations of the great Fifty Days of Easter with great devotion, and it is when they welcomed new Christians into their fellowship through the waters of baptism. By their words, their actions, and their lives they witnessed to the New life that Jesus brought and still brings. By the power of the resurrection they moved from disciples to apostles, from sin to holiness, from death to life.
I invite you therefore, in the name of the Church, to a holy season of Easter. I invite you to be nourished by God, and to nourish others by your witness to the resurrection. May these Fifty Days be a time when you are renewed, and where fed by the scriptures, prayer, and worship you would aspire to bring food to the hungry, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the hopeless, and faith to those who doubt. For in doing so we follow in the footsteps of the apostles, and in the promises we made in the waters of baptism.
And, let us make a right beginning now, as we join in the ancient acclamation made by those who live in the wake of the empty tomb:
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!