The first Sunday after Easter has been called Low Sunday, even though those who call it that that don’t remember why. Maybe it is as simple as the feeling of coming down from the mountaintop experience of Easter. Maybe it’s the slump we feel as we look out and see more empty seats than were there last week. It is hard to sustain the jubilant enthusiasm that Easter engenders. The musicians are worn out; the preacher is bleary eyed this week. The day is usually given over to Thomas (see Preaching Notes), the famous doubter. Last week, his hesitancy would have been unthinkable. But this week, he speaks for many.
It might be that a quieter, more reserved service would be welcomed in your space. Give the musicians the week off and give a meditation rather than a sermon; they’ll thank you for it. Have the congregation in and out and back into the world as quickly as possible. That seems like the only proper response to Low Sunday.
But is it? Wouldn’t a more faithful response on this second Sunday of Easter be to embrace the gift of Resurrection? To lean into the hope that new life brings? To call for the living one, unencumbered by the threat of death, to come and bring us life? Eastertide is a season of celebration, a season of embracing the proclamation of Easter. It is an embrace of life itself. Originally, the egg hunts were done after Easter, as a part of the celebration of Eastertide. It was a part of looking for life, you might say, and looking for the hope that has been offered. You’ve already done the egg hunt; most people do it before Easter even comes. But what about a redo? A Sunday morning search for life hidden among you?
“Revive Us Again” is a short series, the first three weeks of Eastertide, to remind us that the glory isn’t done yet. There are times for contemplative worship, but Eastertide isn’t one of them. Yes, the choir needs time to recover, and the pastor may be on vacation this week, but that doesn’t mean the mood has to drop. Let there be light and color and joy remaining. Let the flowers continue to decorate the sanctuary, if they are holding their bloom. The white and gold continue to cast their light on the worship services, supported by colors of every hue. Let the Resurrection banners continue to hang throughout the season; don’t put them away too quickly. Easter continues this season, so let all of worship be a reminder of that glorious moment.
Eastertide is a continuation, but also an application. The proclamation still rings in our ears, Christ is Alive! This leads to the inevitable response, “Now what?” What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us? How are we made alive again? How do we live into eternity, even as we continue in the world as we know it? How do we live as Easter people in a Good Friday world?
Eastertide services need practices to employ during worship so that they become habits beyond the walls. Use prayer stations, or bulletin inserts, or whatever can convey a sense of continuation, of a pattern of living that is shaped by the hope of Resurrection. “Revive Us Again” is a call to God to bring us that sense of Easter on an ongoing basis as we seek to be the church at work in the world.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.