What do we do when Easter’s done? It’s not an unfamiliar question in religious circles. We’re all aware of the ebb and flow cycles of church that apply to Advent and Lent. Huge numbers come out on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. And in both seasons, the Sunday following those dates is called “Low Sunday.” It refers to attendance and stewardship. But, I also think it applies to human emotions.
Maybe we expect too much of the high moments, as if they will remain this time around – like a Ground Hogs Day that is new every morning. But that’s only in movies or on stage. The truth is, there’s always a day after. And the day after is so frequently a coming down moment. After Christmas, the decorations come down and the normal routine returns. After Easter, the bunnies are put away, the chocolates are consumed, and the normal routine returns. The emotional high didn’t last, and Low Sunday (or Monday or Tuesday or any day) rolls round again. The news is just as distressing as it was the week before. The anger, distrust, and divides just as deep. The fear just as real.
Even as a minister, I’m not immune to any of that. Holy Week is such a whirlwind for us. The Worship services are powerful. The Spirit is visibly present in the spirits of those who are physically present. The music is wonderful. The biblical lessons are transcendent. And then Monday comes, and what I cherished and wanted to hang onto a little longer is gone. The normal routine returns. I feel what you feel, a longing for that which was and will not return for another full year.
For me, the take-away from Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter is, in fact, that we should take something away. Was there meaning inherent in those seasons which can somehow inform and enhance my life once the decorations are taken down? Even when we are no longer singing “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” is the sense of his resurrected presence a reality in my life? Did I learn lessons from Lent, lessons of sacrifice or self-denial or self-assessment, that will still be valid and empowering come June or January? Is the knowledge of how far His love was willing to go on my behalf something I will remember and carry with me, inspiring my sense of self and my love of neighbor? Will the reality of the Empty Tomb comfort my grief or challenge my sense of mortality? Will the witness of the women in the garden and the early disciples compel me to share the same Good News that they did? “He is risen. He is alive. He is with you.”
What matters after the holiday is over is whether or not the intent of the holiday will continue to matter. Did we hear it? Did we own it? Or, do we merely place it on a shelf to be taken down again in another twelve months?
The Good News of Easter is the most important news ever told. It is life-transforming. It brings clarity to our spiritual blurred vision, and it brings hope to our troubled lives and world. “He is risen. He is alive. He is with you.” If we remember just that much, and if we allow it to sink in and shape us, then the reality of Easter will live on even after the day is done.