Dear Friends in Christ,
Most of us are familiar with the forty days of Lent and the twelve days of Christmas, but beyond Easter Sunday, how familiar are we with the Great Fifty Days of Easter? Easter isn’t just a day, it is a season. It is also a season of great joy. Because Christ is risen, the fasting of Lent gives way to the feasting of the Easter season and the celebration of new life.
The Easter season begins on Easter Day by celebrating Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Each of the Gospels gives an account of the resurrection: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. And yet, that is just the beginning. From the gospel stories of the empty tomb, we move through the rest of Eastertide hearing of the various accounts of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples: while in a room with the doors locked, on the road to Emmaus, while fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and more.
According to the Acts of the Apostles 1:3, Jesus made appearances to the disciples over the course of forty days. On the fortieth day, he ascended into heaven, which we call “Ascension Day” (forty days after Easter Day). Just before he ascended, however, Jesus told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, and that the Holy Spirit would soon come upon them with power, and they would become his witnesses “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
So, they stayed in Jerusalem, gathered in an upper room in prayer over the next several days. Then, on the tenth day (the fiftieth day after Easter Day) the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Traditionally, Pentecost was both an agricultural festival and a celebration of when Moses received the Torah. Holding these two events side-by-side, we might say that just as the Spirit of God delivered life to the ancient Hebrews through the gift of the Torah, so the gift of the Spirit is given to bring life to all humanity.
For Christians, the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost marks the gift of the abiding and indwelling presence of God in all believers; the Spirit that is given to help us to be mature in our faith and guide us into all truth. The Spirit of God is given to forgive, strengthen, heal, teach, and be our constant companion on the journey of life.
All of this is to say that the mystery of Easter is profound. It is the story of a God who embraces our poverty, so that we may embrace the richness of God. It speaks to us of death, birth, growth, change, and transformation. It is a mystery to which we shall return again and again during our lifetime, and each time we do, its mystery will only grow. So you see, Easter really is much more than a day. May God richly bless and keep you this Easter season and always.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do
and all that you are, I am…
Yours in Christ