One of the things we made this year for Easter is our Easter chain.

Our kids wrote down 50 things – some playful, others celebratory, and others are service projects – on little strips of colorful paper.  We then made them into a chain.

Our chain now hangs above the door in our kitchen and we get to remove one of the links each morning.  I then “post” that link somewhere visible for everyone to see, so they won’t forget what we are supposed to do that day.  Of course, there are some links that take more planning than others.  If we open one of them, we will then plan it out as a family and get it on the calendar to do.

We are hoping that this is a good tool to keep us in the season of Easter and to remind us to keep on celebrating for an entire 50 days!!

laughter

I love it when my kids laugh together.  Not just a chuckle or a smirk with a sound, but that deep belly laugh – the one that sounds as though delight and enjoyment are bubbling up within and must escape in an effervescent explosion!  Usually when this happens my kids are also like a couple of puppies – running, tumbling, cascading over one another – not knowing that there is anything else to do in the world but play!

Those moments are “Easter moments”.  In fact, I find myself wondering as I read the Scriptures, how much laughter went on during the 50 days between the resurrection and Pentecost.  I know the gospel writers don’t mention it, but I just wonder if the followers of Jesus found themselves giggling about this once dead Messiah or laughing at themselves and all they had misunderstood.  Perhaps the astonishment of it all caused them to laugh out loud as they worshiped God in the Temple.

I’m not sure if any of that happened,  but what I know for sure is that I want to continue to celebrate for the entire 50 days.  I want to live out “alleluias”. I want to laugh out loud at what has happened in the resurrection and I want my children to know the joy of it too – even in little ways.  So the other day we did a little Easter season activity.  It was frivolous, silly, celebratory, full of joy and lots of laughter.

bubbles

I had gone to the store earlier that day and, among other things, bought two containers of bubbles.  That night after dinner (and evening Easter reading) our kids really wanted to go outside and blow them.  On our front lawn they chased each other with bubbles and tried catching the bubbles floating through the air.  Breathlessly, our daughter came charging through the door and asked if they could go on the roof to blow the bubbles.  My husband and I looked at each other…I was about to say “no!” when he said “absolutely”!  (I learned much from him that evening of not curbing Easter joy, but to let it be exuberant.)

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So we got out the ladder, climbed up on the roof and let our children blow bubbles from the roof top!  We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset, one another and the sound of joy being manifested in laughter.  What a delightful way to experience a bit of Easter!

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So…inspired by the thought that Easter is more poetry than prose AND an idea from Karen at Lent and Beyond as she says, “Hmmmm… Maybe we should write a new hymn based on that Lenten standby Lord, who throughout these 40 days… What would we write for an Easter Hymn:  Lord throughout these FIFTY days?”  Here is what I wrote…(highlighted parts are only because I can’t figure out how to single space!!!)

Lord, throughout these 50 days

You appear so we may see

Then with a breath, Your Spirit give

Your harbingers we’ll be

You appeared to those first followers

In the midst of their fear to stand

You spoke “Shalom” upon them

As they touched Your wounded hand

You ate and drank and walked with them

So teach us, Risen Lord

To feast upon Your Easter joy

And bring justice to Your world

New songs of new creation

A new covenant has borne

Love and hope become the language

To a planet tired and worn

We’ll announce a royal welcome

Thy kingdom has come to pass

Earth’s been kissed by Heaven

And Your bride is born at last

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I sat under my cherry blossom trees today and smiled as the delicate pink petals rained down on me – blown off the branches by a gentle breeze.  They fell in my hair, gently kissed my face as they fell into the folds of my jacket, and and were swept into piles around my feet.  Each petal is so small and weighs almost nothing – a single drop –  yet together they blanket my garden like snow.

I was challenged and encouraged by a post by Splendor in the Ordinary about Wendell Berry’s poem that ends with the words “Practice resurrection”.  I like those words – practice resurrection.  It reminds me I don’t have to have it all together or do something so spectacular, but I just need to practice…everyday.  In her post, Amy shared a list of things that a group of students came up with to “practice resurrection” during these 50 days of Easter.  I came up with my own list at the bottom of this post, and I wonder what it would be like if all serious followers of Jesus came up with a specific list of “practices” for the next 50 days and set about doing them.

As we practice resurrection, would those around us sit and enjoy the cascading actions?  Would they see the beauty of God’s story?  Would they feel “spring” in their lives and taste the sweetness of new life?  It seems to me that, like my cherry blossom petals, these resurrection practices are small graces.  They swirl and dance wherever the current of the wind takes them.  Alone, the small choices we make as individuals to practice resurrection may seem insignificant, but altogether?  Well that is a different story.  Because all together, as Easter people choosing to practice resurrection, our choices just might blanket the world.

So…I don’t think I am going to sweep the petals off my deck any time soon.  I am going to let them linger; I am going to run my toes through them; I am going to bask in their beauty; And I am going to let them whisper their Easter song:  “Practice Resurrection”!!

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my list (though not exhaustive)

Read through Matthew 5-7 to remember the Kingdom Manifesto… watch cartoons with my kids… give a monetary gift annonymously to someone in need…plant some container gardens and share the harvest with our neighbors… pick up trash around our community… choose to love and serve someone I don’t really like… send an extra gift to our sponsor child in Kenya… ask an elderly neighbor if we could help her with any house repairs… tell my husband each day things I admire about him… host a neighborhood get together…eat dessert at least once a week…(and not post any more pictures of my cherry blossoms!!)

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cake

I really have a desire to live the next 50 days – the season of Easter – in a sense of wonder and amazement at the Resurrection.  I want to enter into  its depth and meaning and how it changed the entire trajectory of the planet (and the universe!).  I want to faithfully live in the JOY of Easter and living out the joy of Easter as well!

I know I will need lots of reminders…I wasn’t even very good about celebrating the 12 days of Christmas…50 days is a long time!  One of my favorite authors, NT Wright, talks about serving up champagne after morning prayers during the Easter season.  However, I seemed to be quite out of champagne this morning…so I ate some yummy cake!!  A little celebration within a celebratory season!

Here is a favorite excerpt from Surprised By Hope:

The world has already been turned upside down; that’s what Easter is all about. It isn’t a matter of waiting until God eventually does something at the end of time. God has brought his future, his putting-his-world into rights future, into the presence of Jesus of Nazareth and he wants that future to be implicated more and more in the present. That’s what we pray for every time we say the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth at it is in heaven.”

… if Lent is a time to give things up, then Easter ought to be a time to take things up.

Easter is a time to sow new seeds and to plant out a few cuttings. If Calvary means to put things to death in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering and training things up in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit.

All right, the Sundays after Easter still lie within the Easter season. We still have Easter readings and hymns during them. But Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all clergy sigh with relief and go on holiday. It ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. It is any wonder people find 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? It is any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simple the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long over due 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.

+NT Wright

My prayer is that I learn to LIVE Easter!  I want to plant and water, to throw my hat up in the air, to do cartwheels on my lawn with my kids, and to find ways to bring this resurrection life into my neighborhood!!

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