Tuesday, April 24, 2007


There might be a temptation to view Easter as only one Sunday. It's sort of like we go through this intense season of Lent and then Holy Week things get REALLY intense. And finially Easter Sunday comes and then we take a breath and say, "shooo, it's over. another wonderful holy season."

But I would suggest that it's way more beneficial to the worship life of our communities that we observe the full Easter season that the Church has recognized for centuries. According to The New Handbook of the Christian Year, the Easter season also known as The Great 50 Days is “the greatest, most festive season of the Christian Year." But it doesn't always seem that way.

In her article, "What's So Great About the Great 50 Days", Erin Martin, suggests that "Maybe it’s because this “great” season begins in the doldrums of “Low Sunday,” the term used to describe the sparsely populated pews the week after the Easter crowd has gone home. Maybe it’s because as “flabby” Christians we arrive at the season already exhausted from the preceding Lenten demand of 40 days of discipline."

In Blair Gilmer Meeks book, Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter, she offers some refreshing suggestions for revitalizing the Great 50 Days. First, she points out that the number fifty calls to mind the year of the Jubilee from Leviticus 25, a time appointed to replenish the earth, free the slaves, cancel debts and spread God’s justice and peace throughout the land. Consequently, the season following Easter is for us a “Jubilee of days,” a time for rejoicing in the restoration we receive through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Great 50 Days is an occasion each year for the people of God to announce anew a time of God’s favor.

Also, Meeks explains that the Lectionary readings for the Great 50 Days are never a mere reiteration of the Easter narrative, but rather, they are a progression that flows forward from the narrative. In the eight Sundays that follow, the readings disclose more and more about the resurrected Lord and the God who sent him. As a result, the Easter story doesn’t get stale. Instead it gradually leads us into deeper insight into the risen Jesus and into the community of faith that will be left behind. By reliving the stories of resurrection through the lectionary we find ourselves moving with the disciples right into Pentecost.

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