"If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot."
The world, I hear, is divided into two groups: those who love Peeps (the ubiquitous marshmallowesque, fluorescently- sugar-spackled candy critters) and those of us who don’t. Those who love Peeps are divided into two groups as well: those who love them when they are “fresh” and semi-squishy, and those who like to hang onto them until they are hard enough to put up a fight when bitten.
Moving back to Maryland, I thought I would be able to find Mary Sue Easter Eggs in abundance. Being a native Baltimorean of a certain age, I can still sing the jingle—all three verses—but these marvels are in such demand that—four stores later—I couldn’t find a coconut, much less a pecan nougat egg. Since coming down with bronchitis the week before Palm Sunday, I simply waited too long. The only thing left in any of the stores I blitzed the Saturday before Easter were a couple of hollow chocolate flavored rabbits, a ripped bag of black jelly beans, and the dreaded Peeps.
Now, two weeks post resurrection, all that remains (in public view) of the holiest day of the year are the Peeps, discounted by 75%. The Easter candy displays have given way to Mother’s Day promotions which will soon give way to Memorial Day mega sales which will then give way to…. Time has a way of moving on, doesn’t it? That’s why we need to hang on to Easter. We need to reclaim it as a season—and, more significantly, as a way of life for Christ’s people.
On the church calendar, Easter continues until Pentecost; it’s a 50-day celebration. Some years ago, I tried to impress this concept during the children’s sermon. It was the third Sunday of Easter, and I began by yelling “Hallelujah! Happy Easter!” One of the more precocious little guys told me I was confused. He said he knew Easter was over because his candy was gone, and his mom had put his basket in the attic. She called me the next day to say when she woke up that morning, she found his empty basket back on the dining room table with a note to the Easter Bunny which read, “Pastor Terri says Easter lasts 50 days so you owe me.”
We all get caught up in the trappings of Easter, don’t we? If not with the candy and egg hunts, then perhaps the ham or potato casserole being perfect, or the flowers measuring up to our expectations. We can get caught up in the pageantry of worship or (here comes a pastoral confession) how good our sermon was compared to our colleagues’. Even as a kid in the hallowed good-old-days-when-churches-were-full the emphasis was often on the new outfits complete with crinolines, patent leather Mary Janes, white gloves, and Easter bonnets.
I’ve got nothing against all the hoopla (except for the itchy crinolines) as long as it doesn’t supersede the day it’s meant to enhance. Or the message. Jesus was raised from the dead and, one day, we will rise too. Easter owes us nothing, but gives us everything. Everything. That is cause to celebrate. If we want to celebrate Easter genuinely, we need to remember the depth of God’s redeeming, transforming love for us, and then we need to respond by allowing God’s grace to work in our lives.
The question I asked in my Easter sermon rings true: “What is saving you right now?” Tell someone else—someone who has never known grace. Tell them in word and, more importantly, by the way you live and love and give and forgive. For too many people Easter is just about the Peeps. Show them something different. Show them something more. Show them something real. Show them Christ at work in you.