Well, the excitement and hectic schedule of Easter
services is now over and we’ve entered into a period in the church’s year called Eastertide. I don’t know about you, but I’ve often wondered whether there is a deeper meaning to be found here.
As I’ve been researching and reflecting this week, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps Eastertide is another of those periods of waiting, just like those we also experience during Advent and Lent. In some traditions it involves a whole lot more than just enjoying the spring sunshine, watching the spring flowers emerge and gearing up for what we do on Pentecost Sunday – (why not do a bit of research for yourselves and see what you can find out and what it says to you!)
Eastertide actually consists of the 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, and this year the North Lancs District of the Methodist Church have put together a booklet entitled, ‘Finding Sanctuary: Building a House of Prayer’, which you may find a helpful resource for reflection as well as prayer during this time. (It also sits well with the URC Vision4Life ‘Praying our days’ booklet.)
In the lectionary, we have some well known and classic gospel readings too – the resurrection appearances; Peter’s reinstatement; Jesus as the ‘good shepherd’; the command to love; Jesus, the way to the Father; Jesus’ Ascension to the Father; Jesus’ prayer on church unity and love – and all these seem to be flashbacks, a reprise before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
But if like me, you feel that it is a period of reflection and waiting – what is it that we are waiting for?
We are not the first disciples wondering what to do next – we are not the early ‘church’, the believers gathered around Peter waiting for ‘the advocate’ – we already have the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our midst, and yet it sometimes feels as if we are still ‘waiting’.
Waiting for our churches to be filled with young, vibrant families who will take our legacy and move forward with it – waiting for ‘the right time’ to put this or that in place so that the next step can be achieved (the time may never be perfect, we just have to do what we can when we can) – waiting for someone else to come along and do this or that because we haven’t the time/energy/inclination – waiting for a definite programme to be in place before we will commit ourselves.
Yet, if our churches are Spirit filled, discerning the path God wants us to follow – if we depend on the Spirit to guide us, encourage us, enable us, and comfort us when things don’t quite turn out as we expected them to – then yes, Eastertide may be a time of ‘waiting’… but it’s waiting to be shown the next part of our journey. It’s a waiting-time of looking forward, remembering and learning from the past but not clinging to it.
Eastertide is a time to celebrate all that has been, to anticipate all that is to come, and to do it all with the Holy Spirit already dwelling in our hearts and minds.
Yours in Christ,