Monday morning arrived, and with it another snowstorm. We’ve had ten snow days so far this year. But I looked outside, and for once I was struck with gratitude for the beauty of the day instead of struck with self-pity for the inconvenience a snow delay would hold for my plans. It helped that the day before was Easter. As I looked at the snow with a word of thanks, I was practicing resurrection.
Lent precedes Easter, and it provides 40 days for Christians to practice fasting of some sort—abstaining from alcohol or sugar, or for meat on Fridays, or from shopping or cursing or some other habit. It’s a way of reminding ourselves of our mortality, our humanity. It’s a season of self-denial that might draw us into understanding Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross in a deeper way.
But I often forget that Easter is not just one day, at least not according to the church calendar. Easter is an ongoing celebration. There are 50 days of Easter. The feast, the rejoicing, the thanksgiving, extends until Pentecost, when it just revs up even more with the day that recognizes and rejoices in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What if Christians approached Easter the way some of us approach Lent? As a daily practice of celebration, of gratitude, of new life, of hope. Practicing Easter, practicing resurrection, could be as simple as saying thank you for one new thing each day of the season. It could be as overtly spiritual as reading verses from the Bible about new life. It could be as celebratory as choosing one fun activity each week to do as a family. It could be as delightful as listening to a new piece of music, or reading a poem, or looking at a piece of glorious artwork, or spending five minutes noticing something beautiful about the creation outside our doorsteps. It could be a gentle and unnoticed act of kindness day by day.
On Easter morning at our church, the cross held a white cloth. Flowers adorned the altar. We sang soaring hymns and heard the message of Jesus raised from the dead and took communion and celebrated. We were practicing resurrection. (Pastor and writer Eugene Peterson has a booked called Practice Resurrection. I’ve read other books by Peterson, though not this one, but the phrase lodged in my head when I first heard it, and it inspired this post.)
Afterwards, friends and family came back to our house. We took out our sliver and china, adorned the house with flowers, and turned on dance music. The kids jumped on the trampoline and ate handfuls of jellybeans. The adults feasted on champagne, decadent food and dessert, and joyful company. We were practicing resurrection.
Christians practice self-denial in Lent as a physical way to turn our attention toward Jesus’ death on the cross. This Easter season, I am also going to practice resurrection and turn my attention toward Jesus’ gift of new life.