Renowned British theologian N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, summarized his feelings about Easter in his recent best-selling book, Surprised By Hope.
So how can we learn to live as wide-awake people – as Easter people? I have come to believe that many churches simply throw Easter away year by year, and I want to plead that we rethink how we do it.
Easter is about the wild delight of God’s creative power, and at least we ought to shout Alleluias instead of murmuring them. Why? Because Easter is about the real Jesus coming out of the real tomb and getting God’s new kingdom under way.
Which brings me to Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend 40 days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little bit gloomy, bringing it to a peak with Holy Week…and then only having a single day of celebration!
Easter week itself (which starts today) ought to be an eight-day festival with champagne served after morning prayer or even before with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder that people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t at least throw our hats in the air?
Is it any wonder that the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to 40-days of fasting and gloom?
Take Easter away, and you don’t have the New Testament. Take Easter away and you don’t have Christianity. Take Easter away and you are still in your sins. This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out!