Digging through some old drafts of Easter posts prepared in years past, but never finalized and published, I came across some entries by Presbyterian pastor Mark D. Roberts. He’s one of those non-Anglicans who “gets” the importance of the liturgical seasons and the rhythms of the church year, and I have often posted his resources. So… several prayers & quotes by Mark D. Roberts will be appearing on the blog this week. Let me start first by posting links to his series on celebrating the full 50 Days of Easter, since that’s a theme near and dear to my heart.
As we all know, even for those of us from liturgical churches, it is very tempting to celebrate Easter for only one day, or one week, and very challenging to remember and practice the celebration of Easter for the full 50 Day Season of “Eastertide.”
Back in 2011 – 2012, Presbyterian pastor and blogger Mark D. Roberts wrote a series examining the tradition of the 50 Day Eastertide season, and giving some practical ideas and encouragement for how to celebrate Easter for more than just a few days. Here are the links to his Eastertide series. Below are exceprts from several of the entries.
- Easter Isn’t Over Yet – An Introduction to Eastertide
- Fifty Days of Easter – What Would We Do?
- Celebrating Fifty Days of Easter: Some Practical Suggestions
- Handel’s Messiah – An Unexpected Easter Masterpiece
- Examining the Words of Handel’s Messiah – Parts 1 & 2
- Examining the Words of Handel’s Messiah – Part 3
During my first year as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I was finally introduced to a Christian community that stretched the celebration of Easter beyond just a day. Our worship director at the time, Loren Wiebe, explained to me that he took Eastertide quite seriously. This meant, for example, that we’d sing Easter hymns, not only on Easter Sunday itself, but also during worship services in the following weeks. I was ready to experiment with all of this, though I must confess it felt rather strange to sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” a couple of weeks after Easter Sunday. (“Christ the Lord is Risen Two Weeks Ago” didn’t work either.) Moreover, the word “Eastertide” sounded strange to me, like some remnant of days gone by. … Slowly, over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate celebrating Easter for more than just a single Sunday.
… I want to write about how we might let [Eastertide] be a time of spiritual growth, a season of deeper intimacy with God. I’ve come to believe that, in many ways, Easter gets short shrift in our churches. As a result, we miss out on some of the richness and joy of a full Easter celebration.
Fifty Days of Easter! What Would We Do?
Celebrating Easter for fifty days is not duplicating Easter Sunday fifty times over, either. Rather, it’s taking time to reflect upon and delight in the truth of Easter and its implications for our lives.
The basic truth of Easter is simple. In the classic litany of the church, it’s this: Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! On Easter Sunday, we celebrate this good news, rediscovering for ourselves what the earliest followers of Jesus realized on that first Easter Sunday. Yet the implications of the resurrection are more than we can adequately ponder on one day. Every year, during my sixteen-year pastoral tenure at Irvine Presbyterian Church, when I prepared my Easter sermon, I left dozens of life-changing truths on the cutting room floor. There’s no way I could begin to probe the depths of Easter in a mere 20 minutes. So, I proclaimed the basic truth of the resurrection and explained one or perhaps two implications.
Eastertide provides an opportunity to see “the director’s cut” of the Easter sermon, if you will. The season of Easter gives us a chance to reflect more broadly and deeply on the multifaceted meaning of the resurrection of Jesus.
What might this involve? Let me suggest a few ideas:
• You could meditate upon what the resurrection says about the character of Jesus Christ as the Righteous One of God (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:25-28).
• You might ponder the fact that death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
• You could reflect upon the fact that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you today (Ephesians 1:15-23).
• You might think of how the resurrection of Jesus is a precursor to your own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
• You could consider how the resurrection gives us “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
And so on. And so on. Eastertide allows us to think deeply and to pray broadly about what the resurrection of Jesus means, both to us and to our world.