N.T. Wright on Easter

March 30, 2013 in Theology · 2 comments

The Resurrection by Titian

From Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright:

[Easter] 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 people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easer is celebrated as simple the one-day happy ending tacked onto forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in the Church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits, well, maybe it’s time to wake up. That always comes as a surprise.

…we should be taking steps to celebrate Easer in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins. We shouldn’t allow the secular world, with its schedules and habits and parareligious events, its cute Easter bunnies, to blow us off course. This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out.

In particular, if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again–well, of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; sometimes the ground ivy may need serious digging before you can get it out. That’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant about a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time of balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. You may be able to do it only for six weeks, just as you may be able to go without beer or tobacco only for the six weeks of Lent. But if you really make a start on it, it might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.

2 comments… read them below or add one

Andrew Rate April 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Funny that the contentious posts get many, many comments, and no-one says a word about this… “…tak­ing steps to cel­e­brate Easter in cre­ative new ways…” – why don’t we? I think it’s fantastic, and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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Dan April 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Thanks for this comment. It’s so tempting to focus on hot-button, attention-getting issues … but are those issue what’s really important? I suppose people are like moths, drawn irresistibly to the flickering flames of controversy…
But anyway, Happy Easter!

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