Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Emphasis of Easter

As I sit here at my desk preparing for Easter Sunday (only 3 days away), I'm left wondering about the perplexity of the Cross. How do we give the Cross it's just do each and every year when the Easter season and Easter week roll around. So often I'm left feeling guilty as Easter comes and goes without giving it, what I feel, is adequate attention. Are there others of you out there that feel the same way? And this feeling isn't a whole lot different than the feeling I get at Christmas time where pretty much the same thing happens - a less than stellar effort at focusing on the true meaning of the Holiday. So what should we do as Christians during Easter?

Historically, and of course after Jesus' resurrection, every Sunday was considered a mini Easter of sorts. It was only later (around 300 A.D. ) that Lent was introduced as a means of preparing solemnly for Easter Week. Subsequently, in the middle ages, Lent became the primary emphasis of the Easter season. In more recent days, the emphasis hasn't changed as we spend a lot of time focusing on the suffering and the death of Jesus (i.e Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ) and little attention on what happens three days later. The idea, (which makes perfect sense) was that if one got really sad and sorrowful during the 40 days leading up to the Resurrection, then this will make the celebration of Easter all that much more exciting and joyful. However, in my view, we've lost balance here as we spend more time on this part of Easter at the expense of what follows the Resurrection. In fact, most Christians probably don't know that the early church focused almost exclusively on what happened in the 50 days that followed Easter that culminated on Pentecost.

My proposal this Easter and in the future celebrations of this Christian season, is that we focus less on the 40 days of Lent and more on the 50 days that come after Easter. In doing so, we will be more in line with the tenor of the early church that saw this time of the year as a reason for celebration not sorrow. And by doing so, maybe we'll begin to give the Cross its just due. After all, it's what comes after the Cross that provides the impetus for the phenomena known today as Christianity. The once cowardly disciples that we find in the Gospels look a whole lot different in the book of Acts.

Amen to that!