Celebrant Alleluia. Christ is risen.
People The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
As I was reading the lections for this coming Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, I was struck again by a theme I’ve been increasingly feeling this Eastertide: being an Easter Christian is difficult to get my mind around.
If we look at the gospel lessons and the readings we get in the Great Fifty Days after Easter we see over and over again how much the disciples, the fledgling church in Jerusalem, and especially those who come in contact with the first Christians just don’t understand Easter. The reactions to coming in contact with the risen Christ range from pure disbelief, to not even recognizing Jesus as he’s in the midst of his closest companions. The reaction to hearing the Good News turns to outright violence and murder as we read about in Sunday’s lesson from Acts which recounts of the stoning of the Apostle Stephen.
So, historically, if we modern Christians don’t understand, get or live into Easter all that easily, we are in very good company.
On the flip side, I think we have a very easy time getting our minds around the season of Lent. Those 40 days where we examine our lives and, if we’re taking Lent very seriously at all, we look at all of the ways that we’ve managed to separate ourselves from the love of God and to repent for those thoughts, words, and deeds. I have an easy time identifying all of the ways that I’ve sinned or not lived into the commandments of Jesus…but I have a difficult time living into the full-on joy of when life is, thanks to the love and goodness and grace of God, wonderful. When someone congratulates me about something I’ve done or accomplished, for the life of me, my first gut reaction usually is to think to myself, “Well, if I had only done this…and this…or this, it would have been SO much better.” That sounds a whole lot like a Lenten confession and not the wild, joyous, bell-ringing, Great-Vigil-of-Easter alleluias that this season of Eastertide is all about.
OK, I’ll give you that Lent is all inward-looking and a bit more concrete: we are talking about our OWN sins and misdoings after all. We aren’t looking at something that seems theoretical, we’re focusing on a subject we know intimately, ourselves. Also, I’ll give you that in comparison, “the resurrection” is a bit more difficult for us to contemplate since it goes against the very cycle of nature. We haven’t experienced it, seen it, and depending on which survey you look at about these sorts of things, a good percentage of Christians don’t even believe it. Have we become so hard of heart that we cannot let our minds try to imagine the infinite love of God who raises Jesus from the dead and who destroys the power of even death itself…FOR US?
Take a minute and think of the one thing, person, event, feeling, that makes your heart sing its own “Alleluia!” Where are you moved, filled with joy and happiness–when does that feeling happen for you? Go on, take that minute. Be still and think about what that feels like, and what is the trigger for such happiness and sheer joy. Got it? Good. That’s what living like an Eastertide Christian is all about. That’s the joy that God has for you. That’s the amazing love of God who gives you that gift of your heart’s alleluia.
My prayer for us today, and indeed the remainder of this Eastertide is that not only do we notice, but we are on the lookout for those moments of joy and overflowing happiness that are gifts from God. And, that in those moments when our heart is full and we are filled with joy we say thank you to God who would give us not just that amazing moment but would give us the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!