Posted by: Philip Rushton | April 6, 2015

Packing Up Easter

As I sat down at my desk and looked out the window this morning, I saw our faithful custodian take down the Easter cross that was set up in front of our sanctuary.  Yesterday, people placed flowers on this wire cross to represent hope and new life.  Today, the flowers were pulled out and the cross was carefully placed in storage until next year.

Later in the morning I helped clean up the chapel where we hosted a 24 hour Easter prayer vigil.  I collected the resources and put them back in the library. The linens on the cross were folded and the wooden cross dismantled.

Flowers On The Cross Outside Longview Community Church

Flowers On The Cross Outside Longview Community Church

Needless to say, the monday after Easter at a church office can be a bit depressing.  The celebration is over and the powerful symbols of new life and hope are being packed away.

I wonder if this might symbolize how we re-enter life during the week after Easter.   While talking with a pastor friend today, our conversation quickly turned to the stresses and challenges we are facing in ministry.   The hope we testified to yesterday was already being put to the test.  Within 24 hours of worshipping a God who is capable of resurrection, I found myself buried in stress.  Perhaps we have a tendency to pack up Easter quickly as well.

Easter, however, is meant to last for more than a day.  While we were right to clean up our liturgical space and prepare for the upcoming events of the week (dead flowers on the cross would send the wrong message after all!), we ought not to move on from Easter so fast in our spiritual lives.  Easter is actually meant to be a 50 day season called Eastertide.  Easter isn’t really over until May 24th this year!

The extension of Easter finds precedence in the gospels.  It is significant that Easter takes place on a Sunday, the first day of the Jewish week.  This is the beginning of something new.  It is the start of God’s work of new creation in the world.  The stories that follow Jesus’ resurrection remind us that Easter is proceeded by commissioning.  The resurrected Christ comes in search of his disciples and empowers them to go out into the world to bring about hope and reconciliation.

Perhaps, then, we ought not to pack up Easter too quickly.  Perhaps we need an extended season where we can work out the implications of our Easter hope.  Surely we could stand to spend some time investing in practices that cultivate hope in the midst of a culture that is fixated on fear.   N.T. Wright says:

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 fifty 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.

Easter, I believe, is a season where we are called to be participants in God’s plan to instill hope and new life in this broken world.   Like the flower filled cross on display outside of our church, we are invited to live our lives as signs of hope in the midst of the death and decay we find ourselves embedded in.

Perhaps, then, we might live with the hope that broken relationships can repaired, that the people we deem to be “lost causes” have a future ahead of them,  that there is comfort to be found in grief, that injustice will not have the final word.

On Easter Sunday we are reminded that there is hope even in the midst of death. Eastertide is the season where we work out how this hope reframes our perspective on life. Let’s not pack up Easter too quickly!

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Responses

  1. This is a great reflection! Thanks for the timely words.

    • Nice to hear from you Jonathan! Hope you are well!


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