Thursday, March 31, 2016

Living in the Paschal Joy

Easter has come and gone, or so we think. I know that the week after Easter is often considered a lost week in the life of the church. The Sunday after Easter is often called Low Sunday, because attendance is down, not just from Easter Sunday, but in general. Many clergy take the week after Easter off.  Even if our schedules suggest that the big event is over, it's really only beginning. The Easter Season remains with us for the fifty days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost. 

Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann helps us find our bearings in this Easter season, as we move toward Pentecost, when we have another of the high notes in the life of the church. Schmemann notes in his book For the Life of the World  that Easter and Pentecost are the earliest and most compelling feasts and festivals in the Christian year. With that in mind he comments:

For fifty days after Easter it is granted to us to live in the paschal joy, to experience time as the feast. And then comes the “last and great” day of Pentecost and with it our return into the real time of this world. At Vespers of that day the Christians are told—for the first time since Easter—to kneel. The night is approaching, the night of time and history, of the daily effort, of the fatigue and temptations, of the whole inescapable burden of life. The Easter season is at its end—but as we enter the night, we know that the end has been transformed into a beginning, that all time is now the time after Pentecost (that is why we number all Sundays from this point until the next Easter season). This is the time in which the joy of the Kingdom, the “peace and joy” of the Holy Spirit, is at work. “There shall be no separation, O friends! said Christ.…” [Schmemann, Alexander (2010-04-01). For the Life of the World (Kindle Locations 837-843). St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.] 
Let us live in the paschal joy, as we prepare to re-enter the world in the Spirit. Yes, may the joy of Easter continue to be on our hearts, guiding us through thick and thin! 

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