by Allan R. Bevere
One thing I have noticed as a Protestant whose tradition observes the forty days Lent: We don’t seem to be very good at observing the fifty days of the Easter season. Yes, we pull out all the stops in worship on Easter Sunday, but then we seem to immediately go back to business as usual. While we have special times and services during Lent, we fail to place such emphasis on the season of resurrection between Easter Sunday and Pentecost.
And yet, Easter is the most significant holiday of the Christian year. Though we celebrate Christmas as the central holiday as far as emphasis, it is not. Without Christ’s resurrection there is no Christian faith. If Jesus has not been raised, there are no Christmas celebrations to be had. The primary importance of Easter is revealed in the ordering of the Christian year. Unlike Christmas, Easter is a movable feast, which means that it does not fall on the same date every year; and it is the date of Easter each year that determines the entire liturgical calendar. (For how the date of Easter is calculated for Roman Catholics and most Protestants, see here.) Thus, while the church observes Advent and Christmas as the beginning of the liturgical year, it is Easter that is the theological culmination and beginning of the Christian year.
So the question is why many Protestants who observe Lent, do not observe, in similar fashion (in reference to importance), the full fifty days of the Easter season. Why is the greeting, “He is risen!” reserved only for Easter Sunday and not for the entire Eastertide? Why is resurrection absent from some Protestant preaching the Sunday following Easter Sunday?
On Ash Wednesday we are invited to observe a holy Lent for forty days. Why are we not similarly invited to observe a joyful Easter for fifty days following the morning the empty tomb is discovered?
I’m just wondering.