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.

13 comments:

smlogan said...
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smlogan said...

chill with the
"evangelical sub-tradition," pitts.
we've all resigned ourselves to your status as an up-and-coming
fundamentalist...
shouldn't you?

as for Easter, my evangelical church is making a huge deal of the season. of course, as the worship leader, much of the prerogative and impetus for this have (de facto) fallen to me.
come on down and visit us...
our arms are open REALLY WIDE! ha!

(of course, i appreciate what you're saying...
just couldn't resist a chance to "rib" an old roommate.)

stay in the text, bro.
logan

Pittsley said...

I am sure there are many churches (fundamentalist or otherwise) that don't fit my perception. I'm glad that you are making an effort in this direction. I didn't mean to complain as much as lament my own apathy on this point and publish my resolve to change.

Pittsley said...

btw, good to hear from you, logan.

Luther's Stein said...

my church is perfect -- that is all.

smlogan said...

pitts,
i was totally messing with you...
but, blessed are those who mourn.

baylor -
and what church would that be?!?
the one you're abandoning, or the one you've been visiting for the past year - and still haven't joined?

Luther's Stein said...

I hope Jerry Hairgrove isn't seeing this. After reading Logan's post he might think that I "have no characta" [to be read rapidly in a Hairgrove voice].
I am currently going through the new members class -- give me a break! How many churches have you been the member of in the past 3 years? Hum?

smlogan said...

i'd grace you with an answer, but i think we are beginning to undo what jeremy was hoping to accomplish with this easter focus.

sorry, pitts.
you and i can argue on your carnal blog, baylor; see you there...

Will Pareja said...

Jeremy:
I would recommend for your Resurrection Day meditations Warfield's compilation of sermons (by Banner of Truth) The Savior of the World. Heart warming & Christ-centered.

Pittsley said...

I will have to take a look at that. Thanks, Will.

Katie said...

I appreciated your thoughts on this isue and agree with you completely! Since we've been married, especially, this is something that has bothered Chris and I quite a bit. Every year that we've lived away from family, we've chose to stay around our home for that holiday for the simple reason that "Resurrection Day" is truly celebrated in our church (& former church) and, sadly, if we were visiting our parents churches, we just would feel like we were missing out. Now that we have a son, there are questions in my mind as to the value of Easter baskets, eggs, candy & such - not that those things are bad, of course, but that they lend nothing to the focus on Jesus & his death & resurrection that we desire to have. We do dye eggs (Luke's hands got dyed as well), I'm getting Luke an "Easter basket" and we're going to enjoy our local Easter Parade on Saturday. We are just looking forward to establishing a tradtion in our family of putting proper significance on this special "day" of the year.

I also agree with you that, by far, the majority of churches (at least, fundamental churches that I am familiar with) put an embarassingly amount of emphasis on this "holiday."

One thing that we have really enjoyed at our current church (& our previous one as well) is a Maundy Thursday service. Scott, you should really think about this if you're the worship leader. It is really helpful to setting a proper focus for the entire weekend - a seriuos and solemn service, but it lends to a wonderful celebration come Sunday morning!

Sorry, my comment looks to be the longest; I suppose it's because I'm a woman and am known to talk a bit.

Pittsley said...

Thanks for posting, Katie. Don't worry about the length.

I am curious about the Maundy Thursday service. Is it a communion service? Or is there some special emphasis on the new commandment (mandatum) to love one another?

I don't think I had ever heard the name "Maundy Thursday" growing up. I was in seminary when I first found out about the practice.

Ben M. said...

Maundy ("Holy") Thursday si the day of the Last Supper.

It is obesrved by the Roman Catholic church to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist during Holy Week and consists of ceremonies for the baptism of neophytes, reconciliation of penitents, consecration of holy oils, and others.

I have not heard of it being observed in fundamental circles (at least in my experience).