Posted by: Philip Rushton | April 25, 2011

Extending Easter: Practicing resurrection when the party is over.

The Monday after Easter is a bit of a let down, especially if you are a Canadian who has recently immigrated to the USA. In Canada, Easter Monday is a national holiday where schools and businesses are closed. So we at least have one extra day to celebrate. Down south, however, it is back to business as usual.

It doesn’t seem right to restrict Easter to a one-day celebration – especially after all the build up during Lent. This is the biggest celebration in the Christian church. If you take away the Easter story, you cease to have Christianity.

In his book, Surprised By Hope, N.T. Wright argues that we should turn Easter into a forty-day event. Easter does last 40 days in the church calendar, but we rarely celebrate this in practical ways. Wright wants to keep the celebration going. He wants the feasts to continue after Holy Week; he jokes about incorporating champagne into his morning prayers!

More practically, Wright argues that the season of Easter is a time to find ways to live out the implications of the resurrection. He puts it this way:

“If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.”

Wright, then, encourages us to consider how Easter might shape this next season in our life. The resurrection reminds us that God has the power to redeem and restore the aspects of our lives and our culture that are decaying and dying. We can practice resurrection as we seek to infuse our world with the new life that is available in Christ. Easter, then, is a time to seek reconciliation, do justice, help those in need, create things of beauty, grow in our faith, and so on.

Easter Sunday has come and gone, but the hope of the resurrection continues on. How might we live out the implications of the resurrection in the coming weeks?

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Responses

  1. I like Wright’s comment to continue Easter for 40 days. Too often I just move on from from the resurrection after a great celebration and then forget about it. As we are planting our garden (or trying to) it’s a lot of work, but there is a great payoff in a few months. So I will be more aware of “taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.” I don’t know what that is, but I know God will show me something.
    Thanks Phil!

  2. Thanks Randy,

    Wright’s perspective was very refreshing for me as well. The challenge for me is that I sometimes get caught up with the beauty of the idea and fail to discern how this might actually look in my life. I appreciate your desire to seek God’s direction in this new season of the year. You’ve challenged me to do the same.

    I also like your connection to gardening. This week I’ve had this idea of resurrection reinforced and affirmed through my encounter with new growth as I walk to work. As your gardening experience points out, cultivating new life and spiritual growth is hard work. The ‘fruits of the spirit’ take time to grow and require that we tend to them and cultivate them, but there is great payoff!

  3. ……..Or at least 40 days joke telling………..

  4. Hey Gil, yes I suppose my post about whoopee cushions sort of undermines the depth of Wright’s vision for our post-Easter celebration 🙂


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