The Season of Easter
Easter isn’t a single day – it’s 50! Easter Sunday is the first in seven weeks of joyful celebration as we as God’s people learn what it means to live as people of the resurrection. We celebrate signs of new life as they appear. We joyfully proclaim what we do not yet fully understand.
Our worship in Easter is especially joyful. We continue to shout “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!” At the beginning of the service we give thanks for the gift of baptism in place of confession and forgiveness of sins. We are still always in need of forgiveness, but every Sunday and Easter in particular we celebrate that through baptism we are renewed, refreshed, and forgiven. Our readings are all from the New Testament, as we with the early church struggle to learn what it means to live into resurrection.
During this season of Easter we celebrate Ascension Day (40 days into the Easter season), when we remember that after a time when the resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers that he left them. He was no longer visible but promised to be with them and with us always. From Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Keeping Time by Gail Ramshaw and Mons Teig: “A living theology will not use the observance of Ascension to proclaim that Jesus has left the scene and is no longer with us. Rather, in the mystery of the resurrection, humanity is brought alive to God. Pope Leo in the fifth century preached that Christ ascended in the Eucharist. Some theologians, imagining heaven as similar to a medieval court, described the Ascension as Christ pleading our case before the divine majesty. Martin Luther, teaching the ubiquity (omnipresence) of the resurrected Christ, understood the ascension as Christ ascending into the cosmos. Ecological theologians suggest that on Ascension we think of Christ now in the earth itself. Jesus of Nazareth is not in a literal manner in our Sunday assembly and walking on our streets, but the Easter faith affirms that the risen Lord is indeed at our table and in our world.” (p. 125)
The season of Easter culminates in Pentecost – a festival of the church in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is the 50th day of Easter (the name of the festival comes from a word that means 50th). This is not a separate festival, but a celebration of another aspect of the Easter faith. The Spirit of the Risen Lord is released into the world to work in us, on us, and through us.
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