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"But Now Has Christ Arisen"

In my home, birthdays are celebrated over a season rather than a 24-hour period, particularly the birthday of my five-year-old. Traditions need to be kept, including the once-a-year birthday ride on the mall’s carousel and parties with family and friends that need to fit into an already full schedule. So birthday celebrations spill out into the week(s) before and after the actual day. I don’t mind. These small but repeated birthday gatherings reinforce the message of gratitude for my daughter’s life. The traditions ground us from year to year, provide us with something to look forward to, mark a break from the norm, and accentuate the distinctiveness of the celebration. If something is worth celebrating, then it is worth stretching that celebration out.

Easter falls into that category for me. It’s an event even greater than the birthday of a loved one and worthy of the most splendid of celebrations. The resurrection is world- and life-changing, with meaning so profound and so grand that it can never be exhausted. Yet it seems that with one blast from a trumpet it is done. Why so short?

The brevity of our Easter celebrations is especially puzzling given our emphasis on Lent. I don’t wish to diminish Lenten observances, but it seems to me that the darkness of Lent needs to be balanced with more than a single flash of Easter’s brilliance. Like many dilemmas, the solution is already available to us—in this case by the observance of the season called Eastertide.

While Lent is forty days in length (not including Sundays) and highlights the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness as well as his journey to Jerusalem, Eastertide is fifty days in length and spans the time between Easter and Christ’s Ascension. During that time the liturgical colors and visuals of Easter may remain in the worship space to support further teaching on the wonders of the resurrection and its benefits for us.

We are grateful for the abundance of Lenten resources that our readers are willing to share in this issue. It begins with a Lenten series on the seven last words of Christ from a church in Washington D.C. and includes ideas from a young urban church on how to involve the whole church in planning and experiencing the Stations of the Cross. In addition, a Palm Sunday readers’ theater provides a unique way to retell Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. There’s also a drama for Good Friday and a full service plan.

Our “Noteworthy” column includes song suggestions for both Lent and Easter, and there are banner suggestions for both. For Easter itself you’ll find a liturgical dance set to a contemporary song and a litany that functions as a statement of faith: “I Believe in the Resurrection.”

But as grateful as I am for all the resources in this issue, I can’t help wishing for more articles and resources that encourage us to extend our Easter celebrations into the Easter season and that cultivate an understanding among our congregations that we are an Easter people.

To that end, I encourage you, our readers—pastors, worship leaders and committee members—to consider how you as a church can prolong your Easter celebrations this year. Consider sending RW the fruit of your labor so we can share it with other readers. If you have resources to share right now, don’t hesitate to send them our way. Or join RW’s Facebook discussion and add your ideas right now.

Had Christ, who once was slain,

not burst his three-day prison,

our faith would be in vain.

But now has Christ arisen.

Let’s celebrate!

This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sadness!

Our Lord, the crucified, has filled our hearts with gladness.

Had Christ, who once was slain, not burst his three-day prison,

our faith would be in vain. But now has Christ arisen.

My being shall rejoice secure within God’s keeping,

until the trumpet voice shall wake us from our sleeping.

Had Christ, who once was slain, not burst his three-day prison,

our faith would be in vain. But now has Christ arisen.

Death’s waters lost their chill when Jesus crossed the river.

His love shall reach me still; his mercy is forever.

Had Christ, who once was slain, not burst his three-day prison,

our faith would be in vain. But now has Christ arisen.

—George R. Woodward, 1894, alt. (PsH 403)