Alleluia! Christ is risen! It’s Easter!
Wait, you think. It’s Thursday. Isn’t it a bit late for all of this Alleluia stuff? Easter was last Sunday. Let’s remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, of course, as we always do, but the Easter eggs have been eaten, the Easter bonnets have been put away, and we’ve moved back to ordinary life.
Well, yes, most of us have moved out of Easter mode and back into ordinary life. But we’ve just fasted and prepared for the forty days of Lent. We’ve just gone through a week-long remembrance of Christ’s final week before his death, recalling reenacting his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his last meal on Maundy Thursday, and his crucifixion on Good Friday. Doesn’t his resurrection deserve more than just a day, too?
In Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright suggests taking on something celebratory through the Easter season, just as we gave something up all through Lent. His suggestion was champagne before breakfast—it might get expensive, but it sounds like a good idea to me. According a fabulous Wall Street Journal article about the Orthodox Church, members greet one another by saying “Christ is risen!” all through the forty days after Easter. Perhaps we should take up one or both of these traditions. It’s easier to keep our joy in mind if we have rituals to remind us of it.
I firmly believe that Christians have to celebrate more. I admit it can be hard sometimes. It’s often easier to feel our own sinfulness and the need for repentance than it is to feel Christ’s triumph. But he has triumphed over his enemies, and defeated death, and this is true no matter what we may feel about ourselves. Think about the celebrations at the end of World War II—the confetti, the ticker tape parades, the cheering and hollering in the street. This is what Christians ought to feel every day—because every day is a memorial of Christ’s resurrection. Perhaps it isn’t practical to keep a noisemaker in your pocket to pull out at appropriate times during the workday—your coworkers understandably might think this a failure of Christian charity—but let’s think along those lines.
Most important, I think, is that we shouldn’t be afraid to be, well, downright tasteless in our celebration. We should celebrate with due reverence to our God, of course, but we should really celebrate. If this means loud noises and clothing that’s a bit too bright, so be it. Remember David dancing in front of the Ark of the Covenant when it was returned to the city. When his wife saw him she “despised him in her heart” and scornfully said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” But David answered, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (2 Samuel 6) We may look silly when we celebrate the great victory that has been won for us—it may seem odd to keep on cheering about something that happened long before we were born, half the world away. But that morning two thousand years ago is the pivot that the world swings around, when death died and defeat triumphed, and eternal life was won for us. Shouldn’t we be glad?