Keep the Easter Spirit Alive

How physical celebrations can lead to spiritual transformations.

Several years ago, when I was still living in New York, I interviewed for a couple jobs in California. At the time, my greatest hope hinged on moving to the West Coast, but as I waited, I asked God to help me rejoice, whatever the answer.

One bitter cold day in January, I heard back: neither company wanted me. As I stood in my tiny kitchen, absorbing the news, I foresaw the familiar emotional spiral into which I could easily tumble. But I had pledged to rejoice.

Even though I didn’t feel gratitude or joy inside, I decided to act in celebration. Despite my dismay, I could still affirm with my body God’s unseen, but good, plan for my future. I made a pineapple cake and sangria – two small celebratory foods for me, especially in winter. To my surprise, the downward spiral never came. My heart shifted slowly toward trust, and I rode out the disappointment far more resiliently than expected.

That experience taught me of the power of physical and bodily celebration, even small, in honoring God’s good plan for my life and all of creation. Following Easter Sunday, the greatest occasion for celebration we know as Christians, we have a chance to use our physicality, the power of our bodies and senses, as we respond to the Good News.

During Lent, believers around the world spent 40 days lamenting and repenting of the sin and brokenness for which Jesus had to die. How much more should we give to celebrating his victorious resurrection three days later! While most of us know Easter as a daylong celebration, the church liturgy dedicates 50 days to the season of Easter, sometimes called Eastertide.

Given that American Christianity retains some marks of the ascetic Calvinism and Puritanism from which …

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