Easter is a day for feasting and celebration, but it is perhaps even more remarkable because it is not possible without the week that precedes it. Easter depends on betrayal, injustice, and painful prayers. Frankly, it’s a weird thing.
For many Christians for a long long time, the season of Lent – the forty or so days leading up to Easter – has been marked by fasting. It’s a way of giving things up (traditionally different kinds of food) to remember our complete dependence on God. I’ve noticed that in my own practice of fasting, sometimes I’ve used Lent as a sort of “New Year’s Resolution Take Two” situation.
You know: “I want to get in better shape this year, so for Lent I gave up sweets.” Or “I want to read more, so for Lent I gave up two TV shows (out of five).”
I’ve realized that when I do this kind of “fast”, I miss something – I give up things that I wanted to give up anyway. As a result, when Easter comes, it is not a feast day full of joy, but an opportunity to return to bad habits. Yikes!
This kind of fasting misses the fact that Easter and Holy Week go together. Lent prepares us for Easter not by helping us reset our New Year’s Resolutions, but by helping us confront our frailty. It reminds us of our cravings, of our humanity, of our need for help. And it reminds us of this great mystery: Resurrection doesn’t follow self-improvement. Resurrection follows dying.
It might make me uncomfortable – this whole dying thing – but it also reminds me of the depths of grace. Grace follows us not just through bad habits. It follows us not just through eating too many sweets and watching too much television.
It follows us all the way down to the pit – to death. Grace takes our deepest needs, the weakest parts of ourselves, and when we find ourselves dying because of them, grace brings us to life. That’s Easter – in Jesus’s resurrection we don’t find our bad habits restored, we find ourselves feasting and celebrating because God, in his grace, knows us fully.
God knows our Holy-Week-selves, the parts of us that are full of betrayal and cruelty, weakness and despair; because of Jesus’s resurrection, he breathes new life into those parts and, with a party popper on hand, yells “Celebrate!”
Join us at Granite Springs Church for our Holy Week services this week!
Maundy Thursday – 7 p.m.
Good Friday – 7 p.m.
Holy Saturday – 7 p.m.
Easter – 9 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.