You Have Now Entered the Season of Easter
Welcome! You have come to the end of the Season of Lent and are now entering the Season of Easter. “Now wait,” some of you might be saying. “What do you mean by ‘Season of Easter’? I thought Easter was a day, as in ‘Easter Sunday,’ not ‘Easter Season.’” That is the reigning understanding. And most assuredly the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection does occur on Easter Sunday.
In fact, “The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ” is the greatest and oldest celebration of the Church. In the ancient Church, Easter Sunday was the day on which the “catechumens” (those who were receiving instruction prior to baptism) were baptized. The celebration that morning was preceded by the Easter vigil that night, in which the church would “watch and pray,” as our Lord implored his disciples the night of his arrest (Matthew 26:41). But unlike those first disciples, the Church watches, not in anticipation of his death, but of his resurrection, which would make “Easter Eve” even more special than Christmas Eve, if we had matters in the right order.
But with the celebration of Pentecost fifty days after Easter (as the original Jewish celebration of Pentecost occurred fifty days after Passover), the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost came to be considered Easter Season. And why not? After all, there is no more support in the Bible for setting a day aside for celebrating our Lord’s resurrection than there is for setting a season aside for the same reason. On the other hand, every Sunday is Easter Sunday, as the early Church moved the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, since that was the day our Lord rose from the dead. On the first day, God created the world; but, on the eighth day, God renewed the world (the early Church teachers reasoned), because on the eighth day, the Son of God made a whole new beginning for us all, redeeming a fallen universe through his resurrection from the dead. And although we don’t notice it, since we live on this side of cross, Christ literally turned the world inside out, and time started going backwards.
So rejoice! You have not one day but a whole season of fifty days to celebrate Easter. Actually, you have all year, or we should say, your whole lifetime. But the Church gives us a cycle that we may observe and celebrate these wonderful events in our Lord’s life throughout the year, every year. And as I said before, if you have some devotional material better than this, or if this hinders you in any way, please put it aside. But regardless, let us rejoice in this Easter Season, and may the Lord who sent his Spirit on those first disciples fifty days from his resurrection, send his Spirit to us as we watch and pray these latter days before his return.
A Brief Word About the Passages of Scripture Chosen for These Devotions
Like the Bible readings for the Lenten devotions, these passages are from a lectionary; that is, I did not choose them myself. The purpose of the Bible readings and devotions during Lent was obvious: To unite the upcoming Easter celebration of the New Testament with the Passover celebration in the Old Testament. Passover foreshadowed Easter as our Lord (the Lamb) was crucified over Passover. Indeed, in the Eastern churches, Easter is still called Holy Pascha. This is why I spoke so much in those devotions of how the Old Testament foreshadowed the New and how the New Testament answered the Old. The two testaments, or covenants, mirror one another with the New Testament finally filling out the Old, not just fulfilling its prophecies, but explaining its mysteries. The Old Testament provided the shadow of the good things to come; the New answered with the reality out of the shadows. Thus the old covenant prepared us for the new covenant, the age in which we now live. And we have become the heirs of the promise, upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 3:29).
But what of the Bible readings for Easter? We shall begin with First Peter, a letter written by that apostle concerned primarily with Christian living in the face of trial and suffering; specifically, with our growing in grace and godliness. But the lion’s share of the readings will come from the Book of Revelation. And the reason for this is much the same as the readings chosen for Lent. As the readings from the Old Testament during the season of Lent prepared us for the coming of Easter by showing us how the old covenant foreshadowed the new age in which we live, so the readings during the season of Easter prepare us for the age to come, which is the heavenly realm, when we shall see no longer through a glass darkly but face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).
This is what God is doing with us now – fitting us for the age to come. As God used the law, the sacrifices, the temple, the priesthood and so many old covenant institutions to prepare His people for the good things to come in this new age in which we live inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection, so God uses the good things of this new age – rebirth in the Holy Spirit and accompanying gifts, the Church, worship, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, growth in holiness – to prepare us for the better things to come in the coming age.
So this is our task now – preparing for the age to come. 1 Peter, Revelation, and later on the Epistles of John, are eminently capable of aiding us in this endeavor. So let us apply our hearts and minds to Holy Scripture and let it, thereby, prepare us for the age to come.