Here’s an odd thing. Have you noticed in this season how the preposition changed? It might not be something you’ve paid attention to, but there is a subtle shift in the way we talk about the season after Easter and the way we talked about Lent, for example. In March we named each Sunday as “__ Sunday in Lent.” But now we name them as “__ Sunday of Easter.” From in to of. But is this really such a big deal? Perhaps not, but there is significance to the change, and it is a significance worth noting in worship.
We are Easter people. That’s what it means ultimately. The Easter event has changed our essence; we are “of Easter.” Of Easter. We are of Easter. We choose to go through Lent; we find ourselves in Lent, a season of confession and repentance. But Easter finds us; it becomes us. We are Lenten people only for a short time and from a distance - at arm’s length, but we are Easter people for all time.
So, how might our worship reflect this new, or renewed reality? With hymns that continue to declare that “Christ the Lord Has Risen today!” Not in some dim and distant past, but today. Not even in the yesterday of this season, but today. Resurrection is an ever-new reality, not a one-time event. It is who we are, not so much what we do or experience.
So, our hymns reflect this new reality, and our liturgy embraces who we have become, even while it acknowledges that we have not yet lived into our new skin – which means that confession sits comfortably alongside our alleluias. And even though admission of sinfulness is always painful because it reminds us how far we have yet to go before we embrace the essence of who we are as Easter people, we confess in confidence that there is grace available, even for us. The season “of Easter” is not a time for worm thinking! It is a time for claiming the gift of abundant life. It is a time or picking ourselves and one another up when we have fallen to get our feet back on the path toward the kin-dom of God (or back on the dance floor where we can express our joy in whose we have become).
All of which means that what you planned for Easter Sunday, you can continue to do in Eastertide. Again, look at the calendar, Sundays after Easter Sunday are called the Sundays of Easter. It’s as if one Sunday can’t contain all that Easter is about. You need a second Sunday of Easter and a third and fourth, fifth and sixth too! Those who stepped forward to sing or to dance or to read scripture or lead prayers should be used in this season too. The banners should still hang, and maybe even be processed! The colors should still be bright, vivid, vibrating with life.
We too often want to get back to normal, to the same old, same old. But that’s the whole point of Easter; there is no same old anymore. Everything is new. We might be living in a Good Friday kind of world, but we are of Easter.
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.