What shall we do with Easter, after Easter is over? To ask the question is a good sign; it means Easter has had a good effect on us.
There are many threats to “keeping Easter”. But one of the most dangerous, and the most pernicious, because it is so subtle, is the power of “trends”. Fads are different than trends. Pastors having facial hair – that’s a fad. But trends by their nature have a controlling, dominating power over us. For instance, when we perceive the trend is towards a more competitive, international marketplace for labor, that causes fear for our children. Thus the trend dominates us to push them harder and harder to become more “competitive” adults – to get into the right colleges and careers. Which comes with many other destructive costs, which we rarely count.
The power of a trend is its power to sell us a storyline – how the future will go. Buying into the storyline means submitting our feelings and choices to its narrative.
And it seems the trajectory of every storyline crafted by consuming internet news inevitably points downward: we fear the kids’ future. Rarely if ever do we look forward in confidence.
Faith disappears. The effect is pernicious: quiet but effectively, we become distracted from the Bible’s storyline.
After the resurrection, Jesus gave us a two-part storyline: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
The first part of the storyline is the ever-present “trend” of the presence of God, who is with us, as a good Father is with His children. This presence Jesus won for us at the cross. Therefore, we remind ourselves of the gospel constantly, because in His presence is the safety we need (Psalm 4:8).
But the second part is the end of the storyline. Easter is my favorite holiday, because I’m a Christian. But if I wasn’t a Christian, Oktoberfest would be my favorite holiday. It’s not the beverages; it’s the company, the setting, the beauty. It’s being at table with people I love, around a good meal, among the turning leaves, in the crisp, fall air.
But I have it backwards: I love Oktoberfest, because of the Bible’s storyline, which ends in a great marriage feast, which Oktoberfest dimly pictures. And that feast was won for us at the empty tomb.
To work backwards from this day, to let this storyline dominate our lives, is to “keep Easter”. It’s how we become courageous, risk-taking, fruit-bearing followers of Christ – alive in His story.