The Gospel of Luke ends on a note of jubilant and ongoing celebration: “They worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Lk. 24:52-53) The disciples and other followers of Jesus sing, shout, and praise their way to the end of that first Easter and beyond.
The last two verses of Luke sound a bit like Easter morning worship, don’t they? I do love our Easter celebrations. I especially love the outdoor sunrise service when you all creep out of the half-light of early morning. It’s like watching woodland creatures slipping into a clearing to feed. I love watching the sun come up through the trees, listening to the magical chorus of songbirds, smelling dew and spring flowers. I also love the splendid exhale of Easter afternoon when the rush is over, and the world – the world around and within me, anyway – relaxes into the holy restfulness of both completion and new beginning.
Then comes Monday.
Even Easter Monday is usually just another Monday slamming us back into ordinary patterns and problems. On Monday, we stretch out the aches and pains, hustle the kids off to school, feed the dog, clean the cat’s litterbox, take blood pressure meds, wash the breakfast dishes, head to the office to face the boss. (Bless his heart.) I go into work a bit later than normal on Easter Monday because Holy Week has been draining, and because I get up even earlier than usual on Easter Sunday. And even then, I start my normal routine of cobbling together bulletin information for the next Sunday, scheduling visits, and preparing for whatever meetings I have that week.
He is risen.
He is risen, indeed.
An old Avery and Marsh song declares that “Every morning is Easter morning from now on. Every day is resurrection day; the past is over and gone.” And while that is our truth, the Church often worships and works as if it occupies an endangered, Monday-morning outpost instead of living in a Creation gloriously renewed by grace. The joy, the celebration, the lively hope of Easter quickly gets lost in all that is broken, hurting, and hurtful in the “real world.”
Then again, discipleship is all about entering everyday realities as ones who trust that even the most mundane demands and decisions we face are charged with holiness and the presence of God’s New Reality. Discipleship, then, is not a Sunday morning obligation. It’s the discipline of following the risen Jesus, and that means the discipline of living a kingdom life here and now. How that is manifest in our particular lives is determined by (to paraphrase Frederick Buechner) the deepest joy we carry and the deepest need we encounter each day.
Easter Sunday happens on the first full moon after the spring equinox, but our Easter calling transcends one hour of worship. It isn’t easy, it is quite simple: As followers of Jesus, we are called and empowered to live as an Eastered and Eastering community in, with, and for the world by remembering the Beatitudes and tending to those whom Jesus calls “blessed.”
A Joyous Easter to You All,