While we celebrate Easter on a certain Sunday, it is just the beginning of the liturgical season known as Eastertide, which is 50 days long sharing the time between Easter and Pentecost, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming down in Acts and the Church beginning.
Easter isn’t over.
So why do we rush through Easter so quickly? What do we miss by only celebrating the empty tomb for one day?
What is interesting is that some faith traditions didn’t even celebrate Easter Sunday for a long time because they felt that every Sunday and everyday should be as if we were celebrating the empty tomb. I think that this is in interesting way to think about it, but there is something I love about the liturgical flow of the year. We begin with Advent where we expectantly await the coming of the Savoir, and then we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas for 12 days, which leads us to the season of Epiphany, where we celebrate the revealing of who this Christ child is. Shortly after that we enter into the season of Lent, where we empty our lives to create space for God and prepare for what God is calling us to. At the end of Lent, we observe Holy week- a time where we walk with Christ from shouting “Hosanna!” to only a few days later shouts of “Crucify Him.” And at Good Friday, Jesus is Crucified. But three days later, HE IS RISEN! It is Easter and nothing will ever be the same.
And this is the Season we find ourselves, in the Season of Easter where we are both incredibly joyful and also confused by this resurrection.
The original ending of the Gospel of Mark, which is believed to be the first of the gospels written, ends abruptly. We find the angels speaking to the women who discovered the empty tomb: ‘”Go, tell [Jesus’] disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.’ Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:7-8)
When you go and look this up, you will probably see other verses after this, many scholars have found that these later verses were added many years after the gospel of Mark was written because people were not comfortable with this ending. So there are actually two different endings you might find in your Bible.
But what if this is how everything ended? What if it was all just too much, too crazy, too scary for people to share, and everyone said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid?
I think this is the tension that we should find ourselves in the Eastertide, the tension of the empty tomb before the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In this tension, we wrestle with fear, we wrestle with “Is Jesus who he said he was?,” we wrestle with doubts and confusion, but also we wrestle with hope.
This tension leads us to gather with others who are also wrestling, to share stories, to share hopes, and to walk with us in our fears. In this season, the idea of holy community is born. And it is out of this holy community that the Holy Spirit works to birth the Church.
So if we continue to celebrate the empty tomb, we also continue to wrestle with this tension.
What are you wrestling with? What tensions exist in your life? What doubts do you have?
Have you ever been a part of a really intense situation where the tension built up to a point where something had to happen? Walking with people through situations like this, I often find that laughter and joy is the result of the broken tension; and this is also part of Eastertide.
JESUS IS STILL RISEN, but the world is still broken. This is the tension we live with.
May we live in this tension being bearers of hope who fight our fears and share the joy of the empty tomb.