Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Season of Easter: May it Endure

I've had this review copy for some time now. I'm not fully satisfied with it, but it does offer a view that I have never considered before. The title is The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year by Kimberlee Conway Ireton (IVP, 2008). The book is designed to be a simple introduction to celebrating the Church calendar. I grew up in churches that, for the most part, did not observe the Church calendar. We observed Christmas and Easter, but none of the other holy days (Advent, Epiphany, the Presentation of Jesus, Lent, Pentecost, Transfiguration).

Out of curiosity I read a bit of it during the Christmas season, and I decided to read a bit more on Easter. First, I was delighted to see Ireton present the problem of the term "Easter." She notes that "In many countries, the name for Easter recalls this connection with Passover--Pâques in France, Påske in Denmark and Pascha in Greece, for example" (p. 90).

She further notes that "By the mid-fourth century, the Great Fifty Days (so called because the Easter season stretches from Easter Sunday to Pentecost seven weeks, or fifty days, later) were already observed as a time of sustained attention to the reality and joy of resurrection" (pp. 90-91). And building on this practice, she argues that
The purpose of the season of Easter, it seems to me, is to give us the time we need to absorb the reality that Christ is risen....We need time so that our eyes might learn to see the risen Christ, our hearts to believe that he is risen indeed. We need time to be encountered by the risen Christ, and we need time for that encounter to transform us from people who say we believe to people who enflesh and embody that belief. (p. 95)
May we all truly profit from this Easter season. May we take the time to meditate upon the freedom provided for us in Christ. This is not a somber season, but a joyful, glorious and celebratory season. May it not be over come Monday!