For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
My liturgy teacher in seminary told me that the message of Easter was far too great to be contained in a single day. In doing so, she reminded us that Easter on the liturgical calendar is an entire season lasting through Pentecost, not a single dress-up occasion. While this is completely true, it is often hard to remember while walking through the day-to-day practical life of the church.
Most pastors and church leaders have worked so hard to prepare for Easter Sunday, they have an understandable collapse immediately following the big day. The church visitors who donned their new dresses or ties will hang them in neatly the closet, possibly wondering if the Christmas eve service will be as nice. The regular membership of the church, who keep things going throughout the year, cast their eyes toward the long, hot months that are coming and start making vacation plans. Easter brings on Summer Brain. Things slow down a bit.
I feel this myself. The warm weather has made me long for the road, to be on my way – to go somewhere exciting, or to just go somewhere! In the town where I live, I often can get a good view of the North Georgia mountains, and I know that the Smokies are not far behind. They sit beckoningly on the horizon, reminding me of the world beyond. So often when I’m on my way to somewhere that I’m supposed to be, I’ll feel the urge to bypass the parking lot and just step on the gas!
Maybe there is some sense in this. It may seem terribly imbalanced to connect my longing to be somewhere other than home with Jesus’ choice to be somewhere other than the grave, but I’m not sure it is so far off. In the Resurrection, reality cracked open and we learned that there is more to the universe than we previously thought or could imagine. God became bigger – or rather, we got a wider glimpse of the God that we worship. Existence is now staggeringly greater than it had been. I would hope, at the very least, that we find it hard to go back to our normal routines after being witness to this. I hope we are impatient with life as we know it.
I have been thinking of this because we had pesto for dinner last night. Last summer I made this pesto, when my world had been temporarily turned upside down and I had decided to head for the hills. I was due at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina by nightfall, but I saw that my basil was trying hard to go to seed and I knew it would be worthless by the time I got back. So I loaded my suitcase in the car, went back inside and pulled out the food processor.
The recipe I used can be found here. I liked that it had one step in the directions: blend. Pesto freezes well and we have been enjoying till this very day. It was worth being a little late.
I hope that Easter makes us restless. We may think we long for sand and sun, or mountains, or fresh air but underneath all of this I think we are yearning for more of God than we have in our hands right now. We know that there is more to be had and are just feeling around for the best way to find it. Keep searching. Spend this season making your way forward even if you’re not sure what direction forward is. If it requires some gasoline or a plane ticket, so be it. The quiet voice that is egging us on is none other than the Spirit of the Living God calling to us in a single word. “Come.”