What an incredible journey last week, as hundreds of us accompanied Jesus and the women and men who walked with him, into Jerusalem, from the Upper Room to the Cross, and from the Cross to the empty tomb — where on Easter Sunday we lit the new fire, the bells rang out, the organs played (sometimes both together!) and we sang our halleluiahs. You might have had some chocolate or a glass of fizz to celebrate and to end your forty days of fasting and abstemiousness.
When you come to church this Sunday — or at any of our services throughout the week — you’ll still hear us call ‘Alleluia!'
Right up through to Pentecost, fifty days from Easter.
Because Easter isn’t one day. It’s one feast fifty days long; Athanasius called these 50 days the ‘great Lord’s day.’ Others might talk about a month of Sundays, but the Church has nearly two months of Sundays!
Strangely enough, a fifty day feast is sometimes harder than a forty day fast. By the time we get to Pentecost, you might get a bit tired of responding ‘He is risen indeed!” In many ways, good news can be as stressful as bad news. Certainly the stories we will hear in Luke and Acts will show us how the disciples struggled with the Good News of the Resurrection.
So take this time of celebration as the spiritual discipline we don’t often talk about: the discipline of Joy. Allow yourself to be surprised by signs of hope and new life all around us; allow yourself to drop your shoulders and learn to rejoice — all of us, the poor in spirit, the meek, the grieving, the hungry and the persecuted. Allow the Holy Spirit to take you by the hand and lead you to new lands you never expected.
It takes work rejoice. But what is the whole gospel but preparation for an eternal feast?