In our congregation‘s worship time yesterday, an appreciation for our local climate was expressed. In this part of the country we typically experience distinct seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Most years, each season receives its due time-even if winter feels like it lasts much longer than the others, and even if we do get April snow once in a while. Each season offers a gift if we choose to accept it-a gift of time.
We also have seasons in our spiritual life. The current season in the Christian Liturgical year is traditionally called “Eastertide,” meaning “Easter time” or “Easter season.” It’s a time to celebrate-Christ is risen! It’s a time when we we are most likely to say the word “indeed.” We believe that the resurrection of Jesus was the incredible institution of everlasting life. Easter helps us to envision and embody the new life Jesus taught his disciples to pray for. I like how my friend Drew Hart described it:
Everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. It is the game changer. Much more, it is the initiation of a new order of justice & peace.(1)
How are we noticing new life? How are we participating in the new way of justice and peace? We celebrate this resurrection and new life on Easter Sunday…and we keep going.
One day is not enough time to celebrate Easter.
The early Christians seemed to agree. They gathered for meals and worship on Sunday, the beginning of the week. The gospel writers all noted that the world changed on “the first day of the week.”(2) Each Sunday then, no matter what time of year, is a celebration of resurrection. We probably need more than one day to celebrate, to learn how to notice the new life around us, and to live into our role in the new creation.(3)
Throughout Eastertide this year our congregation has been looking for signs of new life and creating space to share these observations with one another when we gather. In the course of our meal liturgy yesterday, I was reminded of one that brought the Easter story to life for me in a new way.
Shortly before Easter Sunday, one of our church members told me that he had to move the “stone of help.” Our congregation has a stone that we use as an Ebenezer stone (1 Sam 7:12). During a worship gathering each August we write on this stone all the ways God has helped us in the past year. Then the stone is placed in a garden near the entrance to the meetinghouse, as a weekly reminder of what God has done. This practice helps us remember that God is our help, and is a way to reaffirm our commitment to be the church in this community—to live as Christ’s Body, offering healing and hope.
The thing is, where the stone had been placed last August was a spot where this church member thought something was going to happen. So he moved the stone. And sure enough-as if creation was also observing the Liturgical year (4)-the spring flowers started to return.
Literally, the stone was rolled away and there was new life!
I took a picture and share it here as a visual for inspiration and meditation. If you like, comment below and share:
What signs of new life are you seeing?
Blessings to you this Eastertide!
(1) Drew G.I. Hart, Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/Drew.GI.Hart/posts/939092022873289?fref=nf
(2) See Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1.
(3) See 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.
(4) Apparently creation is pretty “high church” in this part of the country.