Every Sunday is a “little Easter.” When I was coming of age in the United Methodist Church, the concept of a liturgical season was foreign to me. Surely, we celebrated the big days – Christmas and Easter, but everything in between kind of ran together. I was fascinated with the liturgy and structure of the church year as a middle schooler. I know.. *alert, alert* true church geek! So, naturally, when Lent came around, I jumped in with both feet. I put a lot of thought into what I would abstain from for Lent, and what I would take on as a discipline, and I committed. For the long haul. I must have been complaining about missing out on drinking soda, because my youth pastor let me in on the greatest Lenten secret – Sundays don’t count.
Wait, what? How could I possibly allow myself to indulge and drink my soda, or have chocolate cake on a Sunday in Lent? I felt like a cheat. I felt weak. I didn’t want to let my guard down. I had made a commitment, and I’m loyal. My youth pastor explained that each Sunday is a “little Easter” because Sundays are resurrection days. Each time we come together on Sunday, we do so for the purpose of celebrating the Risen Christ, hearing the Gospel message proclaimed, and celebrating the joy of our salvation. Even during Lent.
This pandemic season has felt like one long Lenten season full of self-denial, hardship, abstention, and isolation. I’ve struggled this Lent, because I felt like we’ve already been there. For a year. Yet, the reminder of the “little Easter” has helped me frame our seemingly perpetual Lenten season of lament. Even in the midst of our suffering, sadness, anxiety, and concern, we have cause to witness to the Resurrection.
I hope you can name “little Easter” moments that have brought joy to your lives. I can. I’m exceedingly grateful for those small manifestations of God that have appeared when I needed them the most. Moments when I feel I can exhale, still the beating of my heart, and receive light, warmth, and love. Little Easters have happened when I received a phone call from a dear friend when they know I’ve been struggling, a text just to check in or encourage, an email from one of you expressing gratitude and sending love, the smiles and laughter of our children while playing carelessly outdoors on a beautiful day, the gift of a few moments of silence without interruption, the unwavering support of my fantastic husband, Facetime calls with dear friends, and Zoom Wonderful Wednesdays with pages of little screens of each of your lovely faces. What have been your little Easters?
Theologian N. T. Wright reminds, as believers, we are “bringing fragments and flashes of new creation to birth in the midst of the still-darkened and sorrowing world.” We are meant to not only receive these moments, but to “be” them as well.
In the words of our resident 4-year-old sage, “Mommy, I know why the darkness loves the sunlight. It’s because it makes things so much brighter.”