Celebrating Easter- The Great 50 Days!Easter is not a single Sunday, but a season! While many congregations consider opening and the right moment to open, we might ask, "Should the focus or intention of our Eastertide (the 50 days following Easter to Pentecost) be opening ourselves?" What if our Alleluia response to the resurrection and the Easter moment were to move from Easter to Pentecost with a focus on a positive intention that would deepen our faith and discipleship? What might we imagine doing as a congregation to live in new ways and in the way of Jesus? How might we share a 'metaphorical' alleluia each day, for 50 days? With our friends, our neighbors, our communities in mind, how might we offer something of our daily living to God in gratitude and in celebration of the life and love of Jesus in new or intentional ways? How might we expend an extra effort to extent our alleluias?
For those not as familiar with the Eastertide tradition, it marks both the 40 days of Jesus making resurrection appearances to the Apostles following his resurrection after the discovery of the empty tomb and the 10 days between Jesus ascension and the moment of the Pentecost found in Acts. Easter is the highpoint of the Christian faith and year and it literally is 50 days that extends the celebration of Easter until Pentecost. To read more about it, there are several good sources and resources. Two of them I found online are here and here. Some of the historic or ancient traditions are interesting and may even be adapted with new meaning for today.
One example of that season for the historic church in the Anglican tradition was to celebrate a Clipping the Church ritual Sunday. Clipping is a term derived from a term in ancient language, clyppan, that means embrace or clasp. The ritual involves the congregation or local children holding hands in an outward-facing ring around the church. The circle of onlookers will cheer once the circle is complete and then a hymn might be sung! Our fore-bearers in faith adopted this tradition to show their love for the church and the surrounding community and its people. (Find more on Wikipedia) While it may not currently be done except in a small area of England and while it isn't possible in these times, I love this image and idea! I love the idea of a ritual that marks a recommitment by a congregation and her people to renew their outward focus on church mission and ministry. The Great 50 Days seems a good time to engage in such an activity; an opportunity to embrace our neighbors and our communities in important ways. A celebratory season of our faith that enables us to individually and together make meaning and celebrate!
What if we were to celebrate this coming Eastertide in one of these ways:
- With 50 Days of Kindness for a stranger?
- With 50 Days of Kindness for our neighbors?
- With 50 Days of Healing for those who are hurting?
- With 50 Days of Celebrating Others?
- With 50 Days of Caring for Creation?
- With 50 Days of Caring for the Vulnerable?
I haven't decided what I'll do yet, still engaging in my Lenten practices. However, as seasons come and go, we continue to live by their rhythm, the rituals and traditions, and make new ones. We continue to anticipate the future and change as we anticipate new ways to participate in and celebrate the seasons of the church year, the seasons of our lives.
What will you do for the Great 50 Days?
Karen Ziel is the Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) at the Southern New England Conference. She can help congregations and their leaders with tools and resources for assessment and discernment. As a member of ...