There is something rather odd about Easter. What is odd is that for most Christians Easter is pretty much confined to one day. Christmas goes on for weeks and weeks, but not Easter. And that is odd, because Easter is the event at the heart of Christianity. Everything depends on Easter: without Easter, there would be no Christians, no church, no Christmas nor anything else.
So what’s our problem with Easter? Well, maybe we’re not quite sure what to do with the notion of resurrection on a day to day basis. Christmas, with the emphasis on gift-giving and good will, is something we can understand and try to act out each day – or at least for a week or two. But resurrection? What can we do with that? How do we act that out? At best we see it as having to do with the end of life and the hope that there is something beyond death. We just don’t think of resurrection each day.
Yet resurrection, I think, has much to do with our day to day lives. For the Apostle Paul, the resurrection was the power of God with him each day, the presence of the living Christ, the presence of love and strength. It was the power of the resurrection that gave Paul the courage to do what he had to do with hope and strength and joy, even when he was in prison and had every reason to despair. It is what got him through each day; more than that, it’s what enabled him to live strong and brave and glad each day.
As I have mentioned now and then, the late English author, C. S. Lewis, once wrote that “…the real problem of the Christian life comes where people don’t usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake each morning.” The moment we wake up, all the fears, worries, wishes, wants, demands and expectations attack us like wild animals. The first job of the day is to push them all back and listen to that other voice, the voice of Christ, and allow him to come in – allow the stronger, braver life to come in, and so on through the day. That’s precisely how resurrection works each day: before the fears and worries grip us, before the wishes and wants carry us off, before the demands and expectations pounce on us, we allow the living Christ to shape our hearts and minds and allow the power of God to give us strength and hope that need. Then continue to step back throughout the day and allow him in.
But what exactly do I mean? How does that actually work? Well, as the fears and worries begin their attack each morning, literally remind yourself that Christ is with you and that with his presence and help, you can manage all things; then pray for the faith to trust that. As your wishes and wants begin to carry you away, stop to remember what Christ has called you to do each day and ask yourself if you are paying attention to others, taking the time for others, noticing the world around you and acknowledging the needs beyond you. As you read the paper or watch the news and begin to feel the anger and fear and the desire for revenge rise within you, step back and remember that in the power of the Risen Christ you are to respond differently, and pray for the courage to react in a different fashion – not to become vengeful or violent yourself, but to continue to seek other solutions. As the demands and expectations begin to tear at you until you feel pulled in a million different directions, step back and allow the strength and peace of God to come in. In the midst of loneliness and emptiness, allow the love of Christ to raise you again in hope.
It’s not easy of course. It’s something we do at first only for a moment, here and there, but as we learn to step back and remember that Christ is with us and that the power of God is at work in and through us, we find ourselves raised up each day in hope and strength and gladness and shaped by new priorities and wishes, even knowing his peace. What we discover is that Easter has to do not just with one day but each and every day!
God be with you,