Mark D. Roberts

easter irvine presbyterianI hadn’t heard this word until I was well into my thirties. At that time I was the Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. My Director of Worship was a big believer in celebrating, not just Easter Sunday, but Eastertide . . . the fifty day season that begins with Easter and ends at Pentecost Sunday in May. During this season we continued to sing Easter hymns, like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Our readings and prayers continued to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and its implications for our lives. (Photo: Easter Sunday worship at Irvine Presbyterian Church)
At this point someone might object: “Every Sunday is, for the Christian, a celebration of the resurrection. We gather for worship on Sunday, rather than Saturday, because Jesus rose on Sunday. Therefore we don’t need a special season of Eastertide. Every Sunday should be Eastertide.”
This objection is substantial, but seems to me somewhat unrealistic. Though we Christians celebrate Easter in our Sunday gatherings, theoretically speaking, in fact I don’t think most services or most Christians are particularly resurrection-centered. And, givent the wide range of themes, truths, and experiences that belong in Christian worship, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong from Christians to focus on the resurrection during one particular season of the year, but not as much in other seasons.
I do believe, however, that devoting only one Sunday to a focused celebration of the resurrection just isn’t enough. In the days before I “discovered” Eastertide, it always seemed to me as if Easter flew by. Devoting fifty days to the truth and implications of the resurrection makes lots of sense to me.
Of course there is no biblical demand to celebrate Eastertide. There’s not even a biblical passage that says we need to celebrate Easter Sunday, for that matter. So there’s plenty of Christian freedom here. But if you’ve never allow your Easter celebration to continue beyond the one Sunday, I’d urge you to give it a try.
If you’re looking for some resources for Eastertide, you might check out a couple of my previous blog series:

Easter: More Than Just a Day
Handel’s Messiah and Easter

If you’re looking for more information about how Eastertide fits into the Christian (or liturgical) year, check out this part of my Advent series.
Finally, if you want to know what it’s like to celebrate Easter as a pastor, you might enjoy this short series on Easter from the Other Side of the Pulpit. This is the first year in seventeen years that I sat on the congregational side of the Easter pulpit. Quite a change for me!

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