Easter isn’t a big enough deal for evangelicals in the West.
I know I’m making this statement at precisely the moment when preparations for a big Easter Sunday (and a Good Friday service) are underway.
- The pastor is devoting significant time to the Easter message.
- Choirs and praise teams are working hard to create a somber atmosphere for Friday and celebratory fervor on Sunday.
- Small group leaders are gearing up for one of the biggest Sundays of the year.
When it comes to church attendance in North America, this Sunday is one of the big three: There’s Christmas, there’s Easter, and now Mother’s Day follows close behind.
So, let me clarify. When I say that Easter isn’t a big enough deal, I’m not talking about pastors and church leaders and choirs. I’m not talking about all the dear servants of the Lord who work so hard at making Easter Sunday memorable (and let’s not forget the selfless volunteers who will take care of children in the nursery this week).
I’m talking about the rest of us.
I’m talking about the Christians who are in church week after week and who love to dress a little finer and sing a little louder on Easter, but who – for whatever reason – will let this moment pass as quickly as it came. I’m talking about Christians who, by Sunday afternoon, will be thinking about Spring Break, vacations, or the final quarter of the school year.
In other words, I’m talking about Christians who see Easter as a day instead of a season. Which begs the question: Why do we spend an entire season of the year thinking about and celebrating Christmas, but just a weekend thinking about and celebrating the impact of the resurrection?
But Trevin, isn’t every Sunday a resurrection Sunday? There’s nothing in the Bible about seasons. Let’s not make legalistic rules of how celebrations go.
Yes, every Sunday is a celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.
And you’re right, there is nothing in the Bible that says we must spend extra days and weeks in celebration of the empty tomb.
And no, I’m not being a legalist, unless telling someone to have an extra portion of dessert is somehow being a rule-keeper. (Trevin, how dare you tell me to enjoy this more!)
I’m simply saying that Easter morning is the turning point of world history and the defining moment for Christianity. This is the day when God’s new world began. It’s the day when our own resurrection from the dead was secured. It’s the first time in history when someone went through death and came out the other side – victorious, in glory, mysteriously new and yet the same.
Since this is true, why do we only celebrate for a day and not a season?
- Since we sing Christmas songs in church for several weeks leading up Christmas, why can’t we sing Easter songs for a few weeks after the resurrection?
- Since we’re used to hearing Christmas music for weeks around Christmas, why can’t we create playlists and sing Easter music this time of year?
- Since we have traditions for our Christmas celebrations – some with the church and others with our families, why can’t maintain and extend these traditions for Easter?
Eastertide in Romania
Easter is a season, not just a day. And as someone who has experienced Eastertide firsthand, I confess that I miss it terribly.
In Romania, the evangelical churches (influenced by the Orthodox emphasis on the resurrection) gave much more attention to Easter.
- Our taste buds knew it was Easter when we savored the lamb.
- Our ears knew it was Easter because the greeting “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed” was standard for more than a month after Easter Sunday had passed.
- For weeks after Easter, the sermons and songs followed the story of the risen Lord. (The Sunday after Easter usually made mention of Jesus’ appearance to doubting Thomas.)
- We heard the great resurrection stories and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus again and again.
When I lived in Romania, I remember thinking, Easter is a big deal.
I miss Eastertide. I miss the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. And it’s not because I don’t have my own Easter playlist going full blast during this time. I do, and I love it. It’s because I feel like I’m on my own. Everyone else seems to have moved on from Easter already.
Don’t Waste The Easter Season
Can we change this? Can we make sure that Easter isn’t a big deal only to the people who are in charge of our worship services and sermons? Is it asking too much to say that our celebration of the definitive moment in world history ought to linger for a while? Is it possible for the day to spill over into a season in which we dance and shout and sing and celebrate the climactic moment of Christianity that is now the lynchpin of our faith?
We are the only people in the world who visit the grave of the founder of our faith to see what isn’t there. That’s a big deal, and it’s time we made it that way.
(I welcome your suggestions about how to make Easter great again. See my suggestions for an Easter playlist if you want to join me in the musical side of this celebration.)