My seven-year-old niece, Macy, with whom I spent the Easter weekend, asked her mom on the Monday after Easter how long Easter lasts. My sister looked at me and I said “Fifty days.” My niece said something to the effect of “Awesome. Fifty days of candy!”
Candy aside, how does the joy of Easter morning continue? We like our holidays short and sweet so we can get back to work and think about the next time we get paid vacation to eat a HoneyBaked ham. How can we live in a season that isn’t about anticipation but retrospection? About looking back at what happened both a few weeks ago and 2000 years ago?
Many churches like to stop saying Allelujah during the season of Lent and then to start it again in Easter. Many like to repeat the call and response “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” These simple practices as a community of faith serve as reminders on Sundays, but what about during the week when there is no one to call or respond to or when saying Allelujah seems like a reaction to an extra french fry on the lunch plate instead of the resurrection of the Son of God?
There is one more question that gets to the heart of the season: what does it mean to live like Christ rose from the grave? That is what this season is about and why we celebrate Easter. We remember together this really crazy thing that seems impossible. Servant Church has a flyer that says “Practice Resurrection” and that is what being an Easter people means.
What it doesn’t mean is forgetting Good Friday. Jesus asked Thomas to put his hand in his scars. The scars were there on Easter morning. The scars were there but they marked victory instead of continued suffering. Practicing resurrection means knowing that the victory of Jesus is found in overcoming the scars rather than in the cosmetic cover-up that so many of us live out. Easter redeems even our darkest places and the places we don’t want to go. That should make a difference in the way we live our lives.
Just because the Easter season eventually comes to an end doesn’t mean we cease practicing resurrection. However, Easter lasting fifty days reminds us that we cannot wait until tomorrow to start living the free life God has given us. We cannot wait until next week to admit that God has redeemed even our most scarred places. God’s freedom is saying that those places don’t control us. Our fears don’t control us. And Easter is a time when we as a community can remind each other of that freedom.
Easter isn’t over. As Pentacost comes around, fifty days after Easter, Christ’s resurrection will still be true. But this season is here to help us remember what is hard to remember and to live a freedom that looks hard, that looks crazy (as crazy as God sending God’s son to be killed and then raising him up again). It is a freedom and joy that makes us respond in mission and service. That is the season of Easter, and it can’t be contained in just one day.