It’s the Wednesday after Easter. All the decent candy (chocolate bunnies and Starburst jelly beans) marked 60% off is gone from the clearance section at Walgreens.
The candy may be gone, but it’s still Easter on the liturgical church calendar. The fifty-day Easter season mirrors the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot in the Jewish festal calendar. It is in this space that you can most clearly see the relationship between the two calendars.
I’ve discovered many people are interested in being more intentional about learning about the Jewish and Christian calendars, but don’t quite know where to start. I’m very happy I can commend a resource that offers a thoughtful historical and devotional overview of each calendar, but also know that many people feel as through attempting to participate will be a pile-on of extra stuff to do (and extra guilt to feel if they can’t do it). As I’ve been walking through this year, I’ve been offering one simple way for “calendar novices” to learn a bit about each major day or season in both calendars, and offer a fun recipe to try – because many of these days call for intentionality in the way we celebrate.
Back in my home schooling days, I loved doing a good unit study as a way to immerse our family in a particular subject. If we did a unit study on the Pilgrims, we’d read books on the topic, watch movies about the journey, create crafts, make timelines, and eat hardtack biscuits and beef jerky to help ourselves imagine in a modern suburban way what it might be like to cross the Atlantic in the early 17th century. The Jewish and Christian calendars are unit studies for all of us, teaching us about the nature of , no matter what our age or stage.
To learn about Easter:
The New Testament writers placed a strong emphasis on the resurrection. It was central to everything they said and did. If you trace the way the good news was proclaimed through the book of Acts, you’ll see what I mean. (For starters, take a peek at Acts 2:31, 4:2, 4:33, 17:18, 17:32, 24:15, 24:21.) Is the resurrection central in your life? In your church? Why or why not?
We have two thousand years of familiarity with the notion of living on the other side of the open tomb. We may gather in church services, saying words or singing songs about the resurrection, yet fall prey to the subtle temptation to believe that merely reading, saying, or singing these words demonstrates our faith. The resurrection invites a radical reordering of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Death is not the end of our “life sentence.” Eternity is.
This reordering of our moments and days includes celebration—an overflow of wonder and pure, unfettered rejoicing in God’s goodness. Our culture offers plenty of examples of celebrations, whether they’re victory parades for a winning sports team or yearly New Year’s Eve revelry. (It might even include a few 60% off chocolate bunnies!) In the church, we’ve sometimes missed the whole-life nature of resurrection celebration. A church service alone does not suffice as our shared Easter rejoicing. Whether in the church or in our backyards, gatherings marked by hospitality, generosity, blessing, and resurrection joy may have the flavor of a family reunion instead of a religious service.
Celebration is an attitude, not a caterer or a bunch of decorations from the party store. A simple dinner with a loved one or friend can be a glad celebration that serves as an appetizer course for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Though food is often a centerpiece of our notions of celebration, the true hallmark of celebration is welcome: “I’m so glad you’re here! What a gift you are in my life!” If our response to the resurrection of Jesus is a welcome with a heaping helping of awe (“Lord, I’m so glad you are here – alive! What a gift you are in my life!”), it will spill into our conversations and quick pit stop meals with the fam at McDonald’s.
Of course, a delicious meal underscores the celebration theme. Those big Easter dinners are a way to break a Lenten fast, but since the Easter season is fifty days, why not plan to enjoy a simple weeknight celebration with Pasta Primavera?
My recipe is very similar to this one, except I add 8 ounces of cleaned, sliced portobello mushrooms to the vegetable mix I’m sauteeing, while cutting back a bit on the tomatoes, which can make the pasta a little watery. This recipe also benefits from a quarter cup or so of fresh basil, cut into ribbons, chiffonade-style, and sprinkled atop your pasta just before serving.
Happy Wednesday! He is risen!