A Musing about Easter Season Hope
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
I saw on Monday a fellow preacher post on Facebook her fatigue from Easter day activities. She shared that Easter had been glorious. They had worship outside for both a Sunrise and a regular service and then delivered meals to some shut in members. It was a good day. But she realized on Monday morning she was tied. She was experiencing what is known among church professionals as Easter Monday. She apologized to all the preachers she had made fun of previously when they discussed their own Easter Monday fatigue.
She went on o add that she was grateful for the days respite as it would renew her for the Easter season ahead.
That last line when she mentioned the Easter season ahead, stuck me as profoundly important.
You see like many folks I had forgotten that Sunday was not the end of Easter but the beginning. On Sunday when the sunrose the Easter season began and it did not stop when the clock struck midnight and Monday morning began.
Up until Easter morning the church was observing the liturgical season of Lent. The season of Lent is the 40 day observance between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It prepares us for Easter and, it is often marked for people by repentance, fasting and self-denial. Folks often give up things for Lent – everything from coffee to social media to chocolate to even TV.
The Liturgical calendar changes on Easter and between now and Pentecost we are in the Easter season. And although retailers have move chocolate bunnies and candy eggs to the clearance racks for the church Easter continues to move forward with joy.
As I think I have shared in a prior musing, the word liturgy literally means “the work of the people.” While most folks consider liturgy to simply be the words that we share in worship, the truth is the words we say in worship are a precursor to how we are to live our lives during the week. Liturgy is the work that the words we say in worship call us to perform.
For me, perhaps the key word that describes the season of Easter is the word hope.
Unfortunately, the concept of hope is misunderstood in our modern society. Many folks consider hoping and wishing to be synonymous. However, that could not be further from the truth.
The great writer and poet turned world leader Vaclav Havel held on to the promise of hope in his work as both a writer and leader. As Czechoslovakia’s last president and the Czech Republic’s first president, he often expounded on both the necessity and the power of hope.
In his classic work Disturbing the Peace he wrote the following:
“Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.”
He goes on to say that “Hope is not the same as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense (and is the right), regardless of how it turns out.”
The world, however, is often anything but hopeful. Bad news and pessimism often pervade our lives.
So how do we live as hopeful Easter people, even in the midst of this world that discourages us almost every single time that we read the headlines?
Well, if I understand both the Biblical text and the words of Havel, we must first orient ourselves to look for and recognize the hopeful things we can discover in our world.
The truth is there is hope to be found all around us. From the sunrise each day to rains that make gardens grow to cool breezes on summer days to smiles and kind words and birdsong and even the smell of fresh bread baking. Hope abounds if we look for it – if we orient our spirits towards it.
However, if we are not careful, we can easily let all of these things pass us by as we hurry through life, just as we hurry through Easter and look to summer with vacations and possibly even Bible schools this year.
So to help us all (myself included) reorient ourselves to experience hope, I am inviting you each day between now and Pentecost to list the hopeful things you discover each day. You can just jot down one thing a day on a calendar or keep a list of things you discover each day on your iPhone. The only “rule” would be that you do it daily. Then finding hope becomes a daily practice. I would also encourage you to consider how you might share these glimpses of hope with others.
My hope (you see what I did there right?) is that we will begin to experience hope without even thinking about it. And as we share what we find with others, we will all discover the glimmers of grace that are all around us, and which in reality are sneak peaks into that promised day of the Kingdom of God that hope promises awaits us all.