St. Augustine wrote, “We are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead has been central in the life and faith of the Church since the earliest times. So the celebration of Easter, the feast of the resurrection, is the center of Christian worship. It’s central because Christ’s resurrection is the fulfillment of a promise—the promise of salvation that God made to us, his people, from the beginning. In this way, Easter encompasses not only a past event but also a present reality and a future hope.
Easter Day is sometimes called “the queen of feasts.” On this day, we put together our grandest, most glorious ceremony as the Church dresses up for the return of her King. Our readings offer words of gladness, joy, life and hope. Our Sundays become the eighth day, the sign of the New Creation already begun in us.
When I was a young child, Easter meant something different. It meant chocolate and Easter eggs and a brand-new dress. It meant that our family went to a special show in the arena where they passed out Easter baskets to all of the children, except that I didn’t get the pretty one, I got the one made from a cottage cheese carton and I cried until my father went searching for an Easter Bunny who still had a nicer Easter basket that he could bring to me. Christ risen from the dead? Not a chance. But the season of joy and hope and beauty and love? Absolutely!
Not everybody understands the profound theology of Easter. I must admit that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection did not make sense to me until I read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, in particular the first of the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. As I read the part (spoiler alert!) when Aslan the Lion is put to death by the White Witch on the Stone Table, in exchange for the life of the human boy who had betrayed him, I felt that — at age 27! — it was the first time that I started to understand the meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection. Sometimes it takes us that long before we get it.
The Easter event encompasses a deeply profound theology, where God has bridged the gulf between life and death, and between God’s righteousness and humanity’s sinfulness. But Easter also gives us a deeply joyful time of love and gratitude to God that even children can comprehend, whether in the form of Easter bunnies and eggs, or in family celebrations at Easter dinner. At church— whether on Zoom, in person, or in the child’s back yard as an Easter egg hunt coordinated by Erika — we will experience Easter joy in all its splendor, for we in the church are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.
On Easter, we exult in the fullness of life that God intended for us, and we worship with awe and gratitude the One who paid the price so that we can have that life. It is with this sense of joy that we begin our worship, with the song that we share with St. Augustine and the ancient Church: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” And a very blessed Easter to all of you!
And see you in, at, for, or being church this Sunday on Zoom, in person, on YouTube, or at Erika and her Bunnies’ Easter Egg Hunt! And do stop by the church between Good Friday and Easter Day to add a flower to the cross outside!
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at email@example.com and let’s have a conversation!