Are You Still Celebrating Eastertide?
Are you still celebrating? We are in the midst of the 50-day Easter season known as Eastertide. For many of us in Community of Christ still becoming accustomed to the liturgical calendar, we are less familiar with the season of Eastertide than we are with the seasons of Advent or Lent.
Lent has a deeply spiritual feel with the fasting, prayer and acts of generosity that lead into Holy Week and the triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a journey that leads us to the cross. It is a long journey and it can even lead to spiritual fatigue and a great sense of relief on Easter Sunday when we often arise early, worship together and then celebrate a feast with family.
But Easter Sunday is meant to begin an entire season of feasting and celebration of the risen Christ. For some, adjusting to the idea of feasting as a spiritual discipline does not come as naturally as the idea of fasting. Spiritual feasting is not about overindulgence or excess.
Spiritual feasting is about taking our place at the table. Think of the 23rd Psalm: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” This is a time to declare in song: “For everyone born: a place at the table!”
Spiritual feasting is about radical welcome. Consider, for example, the parable of the banquet in Luke 14:15-24 in which the instructions are to go out to the streets and lanes of the city to invite people into the banquet and then when there is still room to go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come to the table. This is radical welcome to the spiritual feast. John Dominic Crossan writes that Jesus’s open table fellowship is a core teaching component and symbol of his life. He notes that Jesus’s practice of “open commensality (rules of tabling and eating) is the symbol and embodiment of radical egalitarianism, of an absolute equality of people that denies the validity of any discrimination between them and negates the necessity of any hierarchy among them.”
Most modern scholars believe that this unique table fellowship was the precursor of what became the Lord’s Supper. Borg writes, “…ultimately, the meals of Jesus are the ancestor of the Christian Eucharist.”
Spiritual feasting is about being comforted. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4 that “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” When people are in mourning, there is a cultural tradition of bringing them food that is rooted in this teaching. And in the gospel of Mark 2:19, Jesus asked the Pharisees: “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”
Spiritual feasting is about enjoying spiritual nourishment. Jesus said:
Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:32-35
Spiritual feasting is about engaging with the Holy Spirit as we eat. When Jesus invited the disciples to the upper room for what we call the Last Supper, it is important to remember that this was not simply a ceremonial or ritual event involving bread and wine. They were celebrating the Passover, an activity that involves a full meal. Jesus instructed Peter and John to go into Jerusalem and prepare for Passover. It was not just a simple ritual; it was a spiritual meal. Anyone who has participated in a Passover Seder has a sense of such a meal. When we engage with the Holy Spirit as we eat, we are invited to partake of the fruits of the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22-23, these are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So continue listening to Easter music, read the Acts of the Apostles, adorn your table in the traditional colors of white and gold, light an Easter candle, celebrate the risen Christ. Welcome all to the banquet: “For everyone born: a place at the table!”
Spiritual Practices for Today
Download or open the Community of Christ app on your smartphone or visit www.cofchrist.org to read today’s Daily Bread and Prayer for Peace.
After reading the Daily Bread article, consider these questions:
How might appreciation for the “sacred interconnection of life” be experienced at the table in our table prayers?
The author says “We can imitate God’s generosity with love for all living things.” How can an attitude of feasting that does not involve overindulgence lead us into this dimension of generosity?
Pray: Holy Spirit of the Feast, we welcome all to the table of Christ’s resurrection. Be present with us and bless us with thy grace and generosity. Let us commit together to seek to discern your will for us in the spaces we occupy. As we partake at your table of love in this amazing world you have created, may we seek your peace in our hearts. Fill us with joy in faith knowing that by your grace we are forgiven and set free in Jesus name. Amen.
Read Luke 14:15-24
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” ’
What word or phrase caught your attention in this passage?
Read the passage again. How is this passage speaking to you today?
Pray the Mission Prayer: God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me the courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
2021 Guiding Question: Are we moving towards Jesus, the peaceful One?