by Jennifer Asp
I’m relatively new to practicing the liturgical calendar. I practiced with Church of the Cross for several years before I understood what it was we were doing. The liturgical year begins with Advent the beginning of December (a 4 week fast) and it leads into Christmas (a 12 day feast). In the spring, we practice Lent (a 40 day fast) and it leads into Easter (a 50 day feast).
I have learned to love—even savor—the seasons of fasting. It is the seasons of feasting that I can’t get my head around. Who has problems celebrating Christmas and Easter? Two years ago, I fasted from sugar for Lent. So, to celebrate Easter I made four desserts and voluntarily put myself in a sugar coma for a week. Last year, our youngest child decided to start potty training the day after Easter. I can’t remember any day after that—only a blur of trauma.
This year was the year of getting the 50 days of Easter celebration right. I had a plan. Decorations, family Bible stories…a “He is Risen” banner for our window that faces both inside and out. And so, the Monday morning after Easter we spent in urgent care where my daughter and son were both diagnosed with pink eye AND strep.
Monday afternoon I went to see the doctor for my rheumatoid arthritis and walked away with a new prescription because my old medicine wasn’t working anymore. New medicine is new fear for me: Will it work? Will I have side effects?
And then the first week of my Easter celebration just got worse. Two more disappointing doctor’s appointments confirmed the necessity of a hysterectomy in May—the month I intended on celebrating (only) with special treats, songs, and a 50 day sticker calendar that promised to solve all my Easter celebration problems.
Disappointing things happen all the time—we all know that. But hard struggles during a feast seem especially difficult to handle. I spent a good part of the week crying when I had intended to be singing (I had an Easter playlist prepared!). All week I wrestled with the question: What does the resurrection really mean? It felt like a dark, doubting sort of question—but I actually think it is the question for Easter.
This is my new working theory: Celebrating Easter for 50 days is nothing short of a discipline. And, it is actually a harder discipline than a fast because it is a messy celebration. It is a party of the Kingdom that is here and is not yet here. It is the feast where you still sing even if your eye is crusted over and sealed shut because our Savior lives. I think it may prove quite profound to consider what the Resurrection really means in the midst of health crises, or disappointments, or places where fear is real.