Among all the annual Holy Days (holidays) celebrated by Christians, none is of greater import than Easter. The Grand Miracle of the Incarnation which begins with Christmas reaches its fulfillment here, and even the incredible sacrifice which God the Father made of His own willing Son on Good Friday is ultimately meaningless, says Paul, if Death had been allowed to keep His prize – but Jesus broke forever the power of sin and Death and if that isn’t worth celebrating, nothing ever has been. Not the Super Bowl, not your birthday, not a new bicycle or a baby or anything.
Unlike Christmas, which I’d never until the one most recent celebrated apart from family in New York, Easter has been all over for me: the last four, during university, were with family in New York, immediately after a backpacking trip to Utah, immediately before a trip to the South Island of New Zealand, and in California at the end of my last spring break. But I’ve never had an Easter that was quite so… Eastery. So full of renewed awareness and remembrance and celebration of what Christ did and how that should change my life. This year, Easter Sunday wasn’t even the best part, but it was very good. (Read the previous two posts for the rest of my weekend.)
Rose, tired but cheerful, in the late morning. My church here was having an early service, I know, but firstly I was, though richly blessed by the last days and weeks, pretty tired by them, and the service was I knew not where – another location in the city. So I attended the usual service after preparing that night’s feast – cutting potatoes and carrots, and putting a large piece of good beef to marinate in wine. Church was fuller than usual, and generally better dressed, too; I’d bothered to put a Trinity knot in my tie, which made me happy even if nobody noticed. There were special music presentations, dance and simple reenactment scenes from the church’s youngest and older children, and a brief teaching. Then light lunch and much time for fellowship. That church has a good pattern of fellowship, and I’ve gotten to know a fair number of people there, so I stayed as long as I could, first inside, then out on the sidewalk as the next church-group took over our room for their afternoon service. If I said about Saturday that it was at last a real spring day, it had nothing on this: sunshine and warmth and no thought in my head of needing a jacket (although a couple people still asked why I didn’t have one.)
At home, put the roast in the oven and decided the best way to spend the afternoon was to visit a large park within walking distance where I hadn’t been since New Year’s morning. That was a good time (see that post if you care) but it was cold then, and too long ago.
A lot of others had the same idea: the place was full of old and young and in between; of bicycles and strollers and dogs. The grass was blazing green, the sunlight strong, the birds a-twitter, and the camera batteries dead. Snap. I thought, in the States, no way you’d see this scene without at least one or two groups with a frisbee. Then I saw one. I asked in Russian if I could play, then realized they were all British. Figures – I ought to introduce the frisbee to a few Russians. We threw it around a bit, talked about what we were doing in Russia, and they left, leaving me to settle on the grass to write and rest and relax in the moment. I saw a man moving among groups sitting on the grass and caught enough of what he said to realize he was talking about the meaning of Easter and God’s love. He was politely listened to for a bit before he moved on to another group. I wanted him to come to me, so I could see how much I was able to talk to him, but he didn’t.
Walked home, made biscuits, set the table, and finally sat down with my teammate to an Easter feast. The roast was incredible, flavorful and fall-apart tender, and we shared the meal with talk of the weekend, life here, next year, theology of the Passion, and how dang good the food was.
As we began to put dinner away though, and he spoke of returning to his lesson plans, I took the opportunity to clear the air about a few things I needed to be rid of and create some reconciliation. Not that there were huge problems between us, only that there were some things that should have been said sooner, and we both felt better when they had been said. Because Easter is really about reconciliation, and because of what I had in mind to do next: I suggested what became the last moment directly tied to Eastertide – for me, for this year. With a dinner biscuit and the last of the wine, we remembered Christ’s sacrifice in the sign of Communion. No church or pastor, just two guys in their apartment after dinner. Easter is death, but then Easter is life, and life abundant. Then he went to his planning work, and I wrote an email and read the Resurrection morning in Russian and English and went to bed early because I was tired out and Monday is my long day, with four classes – but I went to bed joyful, because God reigns also over Mondays as on Easter. This is not to say that life had not been recently wonderful and great, because it has and had, but I really needed something like this weekend: something powerful and serious and joyful and glorious, and God absolutely delivered.
I hope your own Easter celebrations were similarly magnificent and uplifting reminders of God’s love and the hope into which we were brought by Christ’s life-giving death and triumphant resurrection. May blessings attend you all, Easter and always.