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Can you still buy a hot cross bun or an Easter egg in your local supermarket? Or are they selling barbecues for summer, or even minced pies, already?
The rhythm of the church’s year and the retail calendar aren’t always quite in sync. Whether it’s Christmas or Easter, it seems that you can buy seasonal stuff for weeks (months?) before the big day, but then immediately afterwards the display changes and the world’s moved on to the next thing.
This is rather a pity because, as you might know, the great church seasons begin with the festival and go on for some days or weeks afterwards. So Christmas, despite all the mulled wine and carols which drag on through December and the tinsel you can buy in August, starts on Christmas Day and ends forty days later at Candlemas when the baby Jesus was presented in the Temple. Likewise, Easter begins on the day and ends fifty days later at Pentecost, when we recall the coming of God’s Spirit on the first followers of Christ.
Now, this not to encourage you to go on eating turkey all through January, nor to be buying Easter eggs at the end of May! But I wonder whether it might be worth trying to hold on to the message of these great festivals for a bit longer than the day itself? For all through Eastertide we light the special Easter (paschal) candle; we say a lot of ‘Alleluias’; our Sunday readings from the book of Acts focus on the days after Jesus was raised. And, as a famous anthem reminds us, it’s the whole of Eastertide – the whole season – which is the time of resurrection.
This sense of a whole season, not just one day, helps me remember Jesus was risen on Easter day, but also was risen yesterday, and will be risen tomorrow, too. And for me, amid all my own faults and failings, all the sufferings and struggles of the world, it helps hugely to remember that the life of Christ, stronger even than death, is always coursing through the creation, a source of inspiration and strength and hope for us all, not just on Easter morning, but every morning.
With prayers and best wishes,
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