From the Pastor
Something occurred to me the other day – have you ever considered how long the season of “Easter” is? We celebrate Easter for 50 days, from Easter to Pentecost Sunday. But what struck me in particular is how the 50 days of Easter is actually longer than the 40 days of Lent. Think about that ratio for a second. For 40 days, we consider the ways that we could be more faithful. But for 50 days, we consider how faithful God has been to us.
I think there’s something valuable in considering faith from that perspective. Certainly, both activities of repentance and celebration have their place in our faith. Yet most faith expressions I’ve participated in have actually reversed that ratio – we drill down on repentance and are perhaps a little lax on celebration.
As a child, I heard a lot about repenting of what I was not, not nearly as much about celebrating what I am. I heard a lot about the dangers of hell, not nearly as much about the joys of the Kingdom of God. Even the center of my faith – the Eucharist – was more appropriately defined by stoic silence rather than belly laughs.
No one is saying that piety and solemnity have no place in church; indeed, that is my “default” church setting, and I’m uncomfortable by worship settings that seem flippant or showy. For me, joy tends to emerge out of times of quiet and mindful thought. But what would it look like to be seriously joyful? Can we consider such a thing? Let’s think about what a church would look like if it were more defined by celebration instead of judgment, skillfully honoring both 40 days of Lent and 50 days of Easter. Truth be told, it’s kinda hard to even imagine what that might look like! I’m sitting here trying to think of how I would describe it, and it would be hard to describe it without sounding flippant.
Nevertheless, love and joy are fruits of the Spirit. Rigid stoicism and judgment are not.
As we enter this season of Pentecost, and the time of Christian formation, growth, and development that it entails, I pray that we would find growth most powerfully in our expressions of joy and gratitude. Do we not have much to celebrate? Have we not endured a tremendously difficult year, and emerged on the other side in quite a new place? Have we not seen God’s goodness abounding in ways we had not expected? Surely there is more than this to our faith journey, but it is surely not less than this. A people formed in gratitude and skilled in expressing it is irresistible in a world of judgment, half-truths, and anger. And that makes our days ahead exciting and open to possibility.
May the Lord be kind and gracious to us all as we rejoice in this Pentecost season!