April 13, 2009
Easter Goes On
Likewise author Kimberlee Conway Ireton has been a gift to us here at Strangely Dim, reminding us that Christianity is a faith practiced in time and space. The subject of her book Circle of Seasons is the church calendar--not the one on the back of your Sunday bulletin but the one that infuses our days and weeks and seasons with meaning. Here's an excerpt from her chapter on Easter, which, apparently, goes on . . .
The closest I've come to the astonishment of the disciples when they heard the good news of Jesus' resurrection occurred the Easter my son was two. Jack's Sunday school teacher had brought a huge bouquet of helium balloons and let each child choose one to take home. Jack chose red. Proudly and joyfully, he carried his bobbing balloon down the church hallway to the Fellowship Hall, where Doug and I stopped to chat with our associate pastor, Steve, and his wife about our recent visit to Steve's hometown. A few minutes into our conversation, Jack let out a piercing wail. He had let go of his balloon, and it had floated to the top of the Fellowship Hall, some twelve feet above our heads."Oh sweetie." I picked Jack up as he began to sob. "That's so sad."
Steve said to Jack, "Hey, pal, don't worry. I'll go get a ladder. We'll get it down."
"No, please," I said. "Please don't. We believe in letting him experience the consequences of his actions."
But Steve had already headed across the Fellowship Hall in search of a ladder. He turned around. "It's Easter, Kimberlee. There are no consequences."
I stared after him, my mouth half-open to voice an objection that died on my lips. Steve got Jack's balloon down, and I hope and pray that deep in his being, my son now knows something it will take me the rest of my life to believe: the resurrection changes everything. Everything. The reality of Easter--Christ risen, death defeated, sins forgiven, evil overcome, no consequences--is so incredible, in the original sense of the word, that it's beyond believable.
This is why I need more than just Easter Day. If Easter were only a single day, I would never have time to let its incredible reality settle over me, settle into me. I would trudge through my life with a disconnect between what I say I believe about resurrection and how I live (or fail to live) my life in light of it. Thanks be to God, our forebears in faith had people like me in mind when they decided we simply cannot celebrate Easter in a single day, or even a single week. No, they decided, we need fifty days, seven Sundays, to even begin to plumb the depths of this event.