We Need Eastertide This Year


Post Author: Rev. Merianna Harrelson


Eastertide is the liturgical season spanning fifty days after Easter morning that leads to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is a time in the church calendar to celebrate the significance and impact of Christ overcoming death. It is a time in the church calendar to celebrate resurrection. Eastertide is powerful because not only does light overcome the uncertainty of the wilderness of Lent, but it also lasts longer than the forty days of shadows.

Although Eastertide means “the time or period of Easter,” I always loved the image of the tide coming in. Almost as if during this season in the church year, we are invited to wash in the waves of assurance that death is not the end of the story, to marvel at the miracle once again. We cannot get to Eastertide without the wandering of Lent. We cannot get to the Eastertide without the shadows of the wilderness.

We cannot get to resurrection without experiencing death first.

Sometimes in the midst of our anticipation of Easter morning and the miracle of resurrection, we gloss over the difficult journey to get there. During the first year of the pandemic, so many communities of faith clung to the hope of being able to gather again on Easter Sunday morning after weeks of isolation. We had no idea what pandemic living would be like, but we were certain that we wanted it to be over as soon as possible. Over the past three years, we’ve been inundated with death tolls and reports of how many lives have been lost to the pandemic, but we haven’t become accustomed to death.

It is still uncomfortable to talk about death. It is unsettling to follow the path of Christ to the cross. We want the nourishment of communion without remembering the body and blood given in sacrifice.

And yet there’s no other way to get to the miracle of resurrection.

After years of pandemic living in addition to the reports of lost lives in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the reminder that life does come after death is balm for our weary souls. We have borne so much death. According to the CDC , we have reached over one million deaths worldwide even as news of a COVID outbreak in Shanghai reaches our ears. The reported civilian casualties in theUkraine-Russia conflict reached nine hundred , with estimates that the actual death toll is much higher. This number does not include the number of Russian and Ukrainian troop casualties, which officials are finding more and more difficult to verify .

We have wandered through so many wildernesses. We have lost so many loved ones.

We need Eastertide this year. We need to be reminded of hope that overcomes. We need to be reminded of love that is everlasting. We need to soak up the light of new life.

During this season, one of the ways churches greet each other is with the leader saying, “Christ is Risen!” Then the congregation responds, “Christ is Risen indeed!” I’ve always wondered why this needs to be said twice. I’ve always wondered why this declaration needs to be affirmed with “indeed.”

This year, I understand that sometimes our deepest hopes need a chance to ring in the air of the sanctuary of God’s people gathered together hanging onto hope. I understand that the more voices that join the chorus that resurrection does indeed come after death, the deeper that truth settles into our souls. I now understand that this greeting can become the heartbeat that helps preserve whatever comes in the ordinary times that lie ahead.

Resurrection comes after death. New life is possible. These are the promises that we need this year during Eastertide and always. These are the promises that will unite us and sustain us!

 

[1] “CDC Datatracker,” accessed 12 April 2022: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

[1] See https://www.npr.org/2022/03/20/1087781833/ukraine-deaths-casualties

[1] See https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/24/russia-troops-casualties-nato-ukraine/


The Rev. Merianna Harrelson is the Pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ. She is the author of Morning Light: A 30-Day Devotion Journey and Toast the Day: A 30- Day Prayer Journey. She is also a Spiritual Director.


Image by: Rev. Merianna Harrelson, Easter Cross at Garden of Grace UCC
Used with permission
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