It Feels Like Lent: Where Is Easter?
If you are an RW subscriber and are reading this article shortly after it arrived in your mailbox, you are reading this in the midst of Advent. Though it isn’t Lent as I write this editorial either, in many ways it feels like Lent, and I wonder: where is Easter?
On a national and international level, Easter seems far off. Syria is a pile of rubble, its people refugees on a Lenten journey. The self-proclaimed “Islamic State” continues to rear its ugly, savage head. Our politicians seem incapable of speaking truth, let alone cooperating long enough to be effective. And we have our own refugees: undocumented people on a journey from corruption, poverty, and poor educational opportunities to a land of hope that often turns out to be hostile and filled with fear, long hours of work, and no sign of the resurrection.
I’m asking “Where is Easter?” at a deeper, more personal level too. I find myself in a pastoral situation in which there is no sign of Easter, no sign of the resurrection, just a lot of Lent. It is a dark time, a time of confusion, a time of lament as I walk with a family through numerous simultaneous issues that weigh so very heavy it’s hard to breathe. I’m watching a friend suffer, question, and in her pain and confusion turn away from the church and Christ, the very source of solace. It reminds me of the disciples, who in their confusion turned, even ran, from the cross, denying Christ because they didn’t know what to make of Good Friday and hadn’t seen Easter yet.
Where is Easter? That’s a tangible question for this Lent/Easter issue of Reformed Worship as well, because there are actually very few Easter resources in it. My RW inbox is full of fabulous Lenten resources that will need to wait for another year. But Easter resources? Not so much.
Is it because Easter is “just” one day on our calendar? This is a reality that could, and maybe should, be corrected by celebrating a season of Easter. Or is it that we identify much more with Lent? Do we think of ourselves more as people on a Lenten journey than as people of the resurrection?
The Christian calendar is a helpful tool for walking through the story of salvation on a yearly basis. But Lent isn’t just a few weeks of reflection that reaches into the early spring, culminating in Easter lilies and yellow daffodils. Lent is the experience of many of the people sitting in your pews each week.
We all take the journey from Lent to Easter at different times, at different speeds. That makes it even more important to plan worship that acknowledges the journey of Lent and the feelings of Good Friday despair. While we need to name those dark times, we must also point each other to the Easter miracle, the promise of resurrection, and the firstfruits that we are able to experience even now.
As Christians we need to point out “Easter moments” around us. We need to testify to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to speak of how Christ changes the mundane into the front lines of kingdom expansion.
There is power and authority in our uniting with Christ in both his death and resurrection. Even as we travel through Lent, let us not forget that we are people of the resurrection.