After forty days of no alleluias, we bring out the word in style today, speaking it with joy and gratitude. As I say in my book, Finding Myself in Britain:
We build up to Easter with a forty-day season of reflection, and yet we seem not to celebrate more than a day. Just like the twelve days of Christmas are lost on our culture. Tom Wright, the prolific and engaging theologian, rues this oversight. He says that Easter ought to be a long festival:
“with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of Alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits, well maybe it’s time to wake up.” (Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope [London: SPCK, 2007], 268.)
I agree with him; as Christians we should be known for the joy that marks our faces and our characters as we exude hope and grace. As I’ve learned on my journey to finding myself in Britain, in this life we will face disappointment, disease, and hardship, but as God’s beloved, his promises and gifts should change our disposition. He helps us to forgive; he gives us hope and strength; he showers us with grace. As St Augustine of Hippo reminds us: “We are an Easter people and our song is ‘Alleluia!’” (“Being Easter People,” Finding Myself in Britain, 144–45)
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!