Easter is a joy with the flowers, the brass accompanying our amazing choir and congregational singing, and the church celebrating with large crowds at all four services. Easter, however, in the wisdom of the church, is not just one Sunday. Easter is a full season between Holy Week and Pentecost.
We have seven Sundays in Eastertide to assimilate the news of the resurrection and to ponder anew how God’s raising Jesus from the dead empowers and emboldens us as disciples. One of my preacher friends texted me early on Easter morning, “Jesus is on the loose!” On the loose – in our homes and community and world, all of which are yearning for God’s triumph of life over death. We are called to live and to serve as those who enact the life-giving ministry of the Risen Christ.
As we journey now through this joyful season of Easter, this coming Sunday we will hear again John’s wonderful gospel account about Thomas, who missed the first resurrection appearance and boldly expresses his doubt and desire for proof when Jesus appears again. The story of Thomas makes room for our doubt, not as a contradiction of faith, but as an essential part of faith. Like Thomas we believe even though we have not seen the resurrected Jesus. We only have signs of his presence... but the signs are present everywhere. They are present in the full hearts and good work of believers and in all the signs of new life in the earth. A poem called “The Early Birds” by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell proclaims:
The birds began on Easter Sunday
to sing the song they’ve sung since Christ the Lord
died upon a cross one Holy Friday
and rose to a new life. Now every bird
& beast & tree & leaf enacts his rising
and greens itself against the bitter dearth
that curses every creature until Spring
frees us from our winter sleep.
Praise the day that breaks each early hour.
Praise the sun that pries us out of bed.
Praise the dirt that surges with fresh power.
Every root & bone we took for dead
stirs and harkens to the ageless song
sung by the birds this Easter dawn.
This Sunday the crowds will be smaller, the Easter flowers divided up and taken away, and the brass instruments in their cases, but we will be celebrating resurrection again. The birds will call us to worship even before we arrive at church, and we will bring our faith and doubt before the Living God with the hope that our worship will fuel our discipleship in bold ways of following Jesus, who is indeed on the loose.