Season of Easter extends beyond 1 day of celebration

2014-05-10T00:00:00Z Season of Easter extends beyond 1 day of celebrationBy JOHN TOLES For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
May 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Born a Jew, Billy Crystal may not have the best insights into the Christian faith; then again, he may have it pretty well worked out.

With regard to Easter, in his book “Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys,” he writes, “Two thousand years ago Jesus is crucified, three days later he walks out of a cave and they celebrate with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps and beautifully decorated eggs. I guess these were things Jesus loved as a child.”

Leading up to Easter, a quick glance around the stores will only confirm his conclusion, but perhaps there is a bit more to it. When we think of Easter, we often consider it to be that one glorious Sunday of celebrating the Lord’s resurrection. Yet for many, Easter is a season — Eastertide — lasting 50 days.

If they had been around, Jesus very well may have enjoyed a chocolate bunny and Peeps, but what he “loved” as a child and as an adult, were the people of God. What did he hope to accomplish through this love? Redemption and adoption. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

No. Easter is not simply about sugary confections. Easter is the time we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, the conquering of death, and the receiving of our full inheritance as sons and daughters of God. So is this great gift something we should only celebrate for a day? For only the 50 days of Easter?

What would our lives look like, what would the church be like, how would our world change if we lived into the resurrection not just for one day or 50 days, but 51 days? 150 days? 250? What would happen if we lived into the resurrection of our Lord 365 days a year?

Jesus declares, “I am resurrection.” (John 11:25) This is not an event held in suspension to be celebrated for a few hours on a specified day. Instead, it is an event that should permeate every day and every aspect of our lives. Yet, like so many opportunities in our lives, daily living the resurrected life requires choice and intentionality.

Daily living the resurrected life requires us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus without hesitating or questioning where he might be leading. It requires us to boldly say with Mary, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Finally, daily living the resurrected life requires us to love. In “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,” Brennan Manning writes, “For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.” What is the radical demand of the Christian faith? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) That command is not for the faint of heart. It takes great courage to truly love, because to truly love means to risk everything.

Make the decision. Be bold. Say “yes” to the risenness of Jesus — not just for a few hours or a day, a week or even a year, but every day. Every day live the resurrected life God has blessed you with.

The Rev. Dr. John Toles is rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Billings.

The Faith & Values column appears Saturdays in The Billings Gazette.

Pastors, ethicists, educators or others who would like to write a column about faith, ethics or values for the section, should contact: Susan Olp; Billings Gazette; 401 N. Broadway; Billings, MT 59101. Or call her at 657-1281; fax to her attention at 657-1208; or email to solp@billingsgazette.com.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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