Van Ens: Every Sunday is Easter Sunday
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. `Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning,” quipped Mark Twain, whose verbal asides aren’t glib. His quips exude wisdom.
Most Christian churches use almost the right word in Easter ads. Large and small, traditional and progressive, denominational and independent churches miss using the right word, however, by advertising “Easter Sunday.” Referring to this once-a-year celebration of Christ’s resurrection as “Easter Sunday” slights its biblical significance.
My normally reserved seminary professor got worked up around Easter when church billboards and religious ads invited the community to “Easter Sunday” services. This professor who taught the right ways to worship God regarded “Easter Sunday” invitations as heretical because they slighted Easter’s full meaning.
The church calendar lists a spring-time Sunday called “Easter Day.” However, every Sunday ranks as an “Easter Sunday,” my seminary prof maintained, not merely “Easter Day” when lilies fill sanctuaries and congregations sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Easter portion of Handel’s “Messiah.”
The Bible insists that Christian churches celebrate Easter every Sunday.
Referring to Easter as “Easter Sunday” instead of “Easter Day” disregards church history and expresses sloppy theology. Early Christian churches engaged in worship each Sunday in which they remembered Christ’s death and resurrection. How? By communing with the resurrected Christ when observing the sacrament of the Last Supper. This sacred rite is also called the “Eucharist,” because through its remembrance Christians give thanks for the benefits of Christ rising from the dead.
These early churches observed Easter as a once-a-year event much later.
Biblical writer Mark shows sharp theological insight when he records why every Sunday qualifies as Easter Sunday. “When the Sabbath [the Jewish worship time] was past, … very early on the first day of the week women went to the tomb when the sun had risen” (Mark 16: 1-2). Christ’s resurrection occurred on Sunday.
That’s why every Sunday, including Easter Day, reminds Christians that death doesn’t have the last word. God does, who wrote the script of Jesus rising from the dead. The risen Christ punctuates our lives with hope because, although we each die, God resurrects our personality — the real “us.” We are born, live, die and live again.
Each Sunday, Christian worship witnesses to Christ’s resurrection so that our lives pulsate with hope rather than despair.
“Think for a moment all that we should have missed had not we been born,” preached Manhattan clergy R. Maurice Boyd, who is deceased but lives eternally because Jesus rose from the dead.
Boyd urges us to: “Imagine never to have fallen in love, or to have made love; never to have caressed a baby, or seen daffodils and crocuses and starlight and moonlight; never to have read a poem or heard a symphony; never to have discovered the high superfluousness (that is, “sheer abundance”) of God, His extravagant kindness by which he makes “not even the weeds to multiply without blossom, nor the birds without music.” (“Joy in the Morning,” Welch Publishing Company, 1990, p.164).
Easter embraces more than a special spring Sunday that attracts overflowing crowds. Its effects are remembered every Sunday when Christians thank God for how the risen Christ shapes, invigorates and infuses our lives with hope.
Remember, every Sunday is Easter Sunday.
The Reverend Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax-exempt CREATIVE GROWTH MINISTRIES, (www.thelivinghistory.com) which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations that make God’s history come alive.