Easter Day was only the beginning by Stewart Perry

In the Church Calendar we have a great 50 day feast (known as “Eastertide”) which begins on Easter Day and continues until the Day of Pentecost (the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples).

It’s Easter, not Christmas that is the high point of the Church’s Year. So doesn’t it make sense that we would want to celebrate?

But why stop at Pentecost, shouldn’t the joy continue, shouldn’t the joy never stop?

I wonder if we need the reminder each year because we haven’t fully grasped that Easter Day was only the beginning, resurrection has never stopped and we don’t quite understand joy.

Joy is more substantial that happiness, joy is not naive, because joy recognises, wrestles with and coexists with pain. As we celebrate the resurrection it’s joy not happiness that we show forth because we acknowledge that to get to Easter Day there must be a Good Friday and even after the promises, hope and fulfilment of Easter we still continue to encounter grief, anxiety, pain and disruption. There is, however, joy in the struggle and joy is made evident by the realisation that Christ is Risen and the Risen Christ is with us.

We can struggle to grasp our role in resurrection too. We can have this idea that our part in the resurrection is far off into the future, thinking it will be something like the best version of ourselves: no pain, no problems, just us on our best day always. That’s not realistic while we live in the real world and doesn’t that sound a bit too superficial for the way we see God work in Jesus. “Pie in the sky when we die” that just doesn’t sound like Jesus. Biblical scholar and Anglican Bishop Tom Wright is a big advocate for changing that type of thinking and perception.

What if we saw our part in resurrection as something completely different to how we are now? What if resurrection was completely unexpected?

I was talking to one of our church members about why Mary Magdalene couldn’t recognise Jesus at the tomb on that first Easter Day when she encountered him in the garden after the end of our Wednesday morning service this week. Maybe it was her grief and anxiety weighing her down but maybe it was because resurrection looked like the last thing she expected but maybe it was because the last thing she ever expected to see was Jesus alive & with her until he spoke her name.

What if instead of some far off promise that some day we’ll be the best version of ourselves playing on fluffy white clouds, we saw resurrection as the last thing we’d ever expect. If Christ is Risen and if we believe it, shouldn’t we expect resurrection to take us by surprise, to move us out of our comfort zones, to grow and mature us, to transform us into something more than we could ever imagine because the risen Christ is with us, not just when we die, but as we live.

Resurrection starts now, we are all invited, we are all included and we are called to be Easter people who are becoming in completely unexpected ways, the hands, feet and face of Christ in the world. So let’s celebrate the feast with joy!

Have a great week!