29 March 2006

Not Lent, But...

I wish we made a bigger deal of Easter.Angel on the Tomb
I wish my evangelical sub-tradition treated Easter more like we treat Christmas. In my circles, we really celebrate Christmas for almost a month before the actual day. We often begin singing Christmas hymns in church well before the week of the holiday. Christmas plays and special services frequently take place in the second week of December or earlier. At least at my church, Christmas season—it gets to be a season!—is an edifying, Christ-centered, worshipful series of weeks.

But, from my limited perspective, Easter does not always get as much attention. The lack probably has more to do with congregations than their leadership. I imagine, few pastors would be upset about serious celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Many pastors, I imagine, try to elevate Easter in the minds of their people. But, perhaps due to cultural considerations, celebrating Easter doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. Spring outfits make their debut, and nothing else changes.

I am, perhaps, more guilty in this arena than most. But I want to change that. First, although it is persnickety to insist on terminology like this (so I won’t), I want to start thinking of it as Resurrection (Sun)day. It helps me remember what the day is all about, and why it’s worth making a big deal over. The resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian religion. Few doctrines in the Scriptures compare with it in clarity and importance. This historical event forms the foundation of our Christian hope, and it enables us to experience profound Christian joy. For we know this: Christ has conquered death, so no enemy may conquer those who are in him.

Second, I want to start giving special consideration to the Resurrection now, instead of waiting for the holiday itself. Now, I have a deeply rooted bias against formalism, and I never want to institute a binding tradition on the consciences of others. But to mortify my own autonomy, I want to give myself regularly to contemplating the Resurrection of Christ and its implications for me. Obviously, I should celebrate the Resurrection every day. But I do better celebrating it every day, if I set aside particular days to do it.

Third, I want to set aside some extra time to invite people to hear the message of the Resurrection at my local assembly. To wholeheartedly celebrate the Resurrection entails asking others to celebrate it with you. As C. S. Lewis said,

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise what ever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value (C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 95).

That’s the kind of delight the Resurrected Christ deserves.

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