It’s still ok to say, “Happy Easter.”
Granted, if you said it outside of the church, you might get some strange looks. People might even try to correct you, perhaps saying, “Easter was last Sunday.” You may even find you get some strange looks from people inside the church. Yet, I stand by my earlier assertion that it is still ok to say, “Happy Easter.”
This past Sunday, as we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord, we inaugurated a new season in the life of the Church – Eastertide, or the Great Fifty Days. We celebrate this season from Easter Sunday until Pentecost, the day we commemorate the disciples receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and celebrate the birthday of the Church. Although it may feel like Easter is over, I think Eastertide offers us a space to do some very valuable reflection.
During the first 40 days of Eastertide, we remember that Jesus remained on earth with his disciples, continuing to teach them, breaking bread with him, and encouraging them for the work he was preparing them to accomplish in the world. Before his ascension, Jesus was not only alive, but present with his people. Sometimes it is wise for us to think about that, and remember that Jesus is with us still. He is manifested in different ways, from the reading and proclamation of Scripture to the actions carried out in his name. Yet he is with us. What does it mean for us as Christians to believe in and embrace this view of Jesus’ constant presence with us? How might that effect what we think, say, and do? Easter affirms that Jesus rose from the dead. Easter also affirms that Jesus is with us, fulfilling his promise never to leave us or forsake us.
Eastertide also helps us reflect on the reality of resurrection. There are implications to believing that Jesus defeated death and inaugurated a new understanding of life. Some people consider the implications are reserved for Heaven alone, however, I believe the Gospel, and the balance of Scripture, points to a different reality – that the new life Jesus ushers in is for the here and now as well as for eternity. New life begins at the moment we recognize and accept the presence and power of God’s relationship with us. That means the power that brought Jesus back to life should motivate everything we do as Christians. The power of new life should motivate how we look at and treat other people around us. The power of new life should inform our political and cultural views and decisions. The power of new life should shape our responses to events that transpire around the world. Since Jesus is all about abundant and eternal life that begins now, we should be all about it, too; not just for ourselves, but for everyone.
The season of Eastertide gives us the space to reflect upon these things. In that way, we as Easter people will never leave the Resurrection to just be about one day in the spring, but to be about an entire way of life – a life that affirms the abundant and eternal nature that comes about when Death is defeated.