Have you packed away Easter already? Put away the bunnies and ducklings and baskets? Taken in the flag from your front garden with the buck-toothed Easter Bunny grinning on it? Swapped out wreaths on the front door? Found the last plastic egg overlooked in the weekend hunt in your back yard?
I have very little in the way of Easter decoration, despite it being my favorite holiday:
Easter has been my favorite day of the year for most of my life (Christmas ruled in my heart for a while as a child, until I truly understood the meaning and grace and wonder of Easter). After the dreary season of Lent and the heart-wrenching Holy Week services, after the stripping of the sanctuary of color and light and watching everything get draped in black cloth on Maundy Thursday, my heart cries out for the trumpets and the drums and the lilies everywhere and the joyous announcement: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
Easter also brings back some of my fondest childhood memories: painting eggs with my mom, brother, aunt and cousins; dressing up in my finest new dress to celebrate Easter at church; coming home to the smell of roasting lamb wafting out into the carport, too aromatic to be contained by the walls and doors of the house; hunting for eggs my dad hid and then finding Easter baskets my mom and aunt hid. Even remembering the year I found my basket tucked away in the dog food bin puts a smile on my face. (And, yes, I wasn’t too picky then. I did eat the candy.)
I think it’s because Easter is such a holy day to me that I have so few decorations. The picture above shows you the sum total of what I pull out at Easter: two small bunnies holding eggs that my mom painted for me years ago.
My mom is an extraordinary china painter, and I’m blessed that she took time away from her plates and bowls and other beautiful works of art to paint a full Christmas nativity set, as well as these Easter bunnies and eggs, for me.
To be honest, I usually forget to take them out of the closet where I store them (sorry, Mom!), but this past Sunday, I got them out right after church. You see, my pastor preached a sermon that reminded me I hadn’t put them out and also convinced me to leave my two bunnies and their eggs out longer than usual this year.
Keeping Easter alive
Pastor Ned’s sermon was titled “To Be Continued,” and the text came from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1:14-15 and 16:1-8. (If you’d like to watch the sermon, you can view the whole service, or fast forward to the 39:05 mark to hear Ned’s sermon. You’ll probably need to let it buffer first, or it won’t fast forward enough.)
Mark 16:7 says, “‘But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'” Pastor Ned’s point with his sermon was that we should not be so quick to check Easter off our to-do lists and move on to the next thing on the list. Instead, we should carry Easter with us back to Galilee.
For the disciples, Galilee meant home, safety, a place to rest and regroup, and the place the risen Christ would meet them again. They weren’t going back unchanged, nor were they to return to the lives they had before they followed Jesus. No, they were to go back to where Jesus’ ministry had begun – where He had found them originally and would meet them again – so that they could start sharing Jesus’ Easter message.
Pastor Ned charged us to go back to our own Galilee – wherever Monday morning would take us: our neighborhood, school, work. As Ned reminded us, it’s “our turn to be the story, to be the resurrected people, to be the ones who proclaim the good news.”
Just as Jesus wanted to remind the disciples that His story was not over then, we are to remember that it’s not over now, either. It’s a story that is “To Be Continued.” And we are to keep proclaiming the story and sharing it with those in our own Galilee. So, perhaps you could take one of your Easter decorations back out of storage and leave it where you can see it for a few more days, reminding you to tell of the Easter story and its blessings, joys, mercy and grace with those around you.
Think of keeping Easter a little longer as a gift from God, a clinging to a season that refreshes us throughout the year.
The feast of Easter
C.S. Lewis perfectly describes the ebb and flow of seasons in Screwtape Letters, a fictional story of a demon training another demon to win souls to Hell. The demons refer to God as “He” or “the Enemy,” (always capitalized, because they know they don’t dare to belittle Him) and they try to understand how to wrest souls away from that Enemy by understanding His own actions toward them:
And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
Might you keep the Easter feast going this year, letting its message carry you through the coming fasts and feasts? And might you share that feast with others starving for a crumb of hope?