Our liturgical worship is predicated upon a theological chronology witnessing to core elements of the life of Jesus in a calendar format. You may notice certain numbers which attract sacral attention for a multitude of reasons embedded in our church calendar. The number 1, the basic unit of Jewish time, 24 hours beginning at sundown composing one day. In John’s Gospel the entire arc of resurrection from Easter to Pentecost occurs in a single day. The number 3, from Adam and Eve’s and Noah’s three sons to Abraham and Sarah receiving the three enigmatic visitors in Genesis chapter 18, whom future Christians clearly identified with the triune God. The Triduum of Holy Week springs from the number 3. The number 7, occurring some 735 times in scripture, inferring completeness which God modelled in creation by completing the heavens and the earth in one week. Holy Week is 7 days inclusive of the entire salvific drama, or in other words, if one had no other information about Jesus, God or Christianity at all, Holy Week would still be enough to believe. The number 10, from Commandments (not suggestions Episcopalians!) to Plagues on Egypt to significant Jewish holidays on the 10th of the month. 12, from Jacob’s to Jesus’ disciples. And 40, of course, from days to years, signifying a generation, transformational experience or significant hardship.
Eastertide is 50 days, exactly 10 days longer than Lent. Egeria and her Jerusalemite colleagues voluntarily accepted great deprivations during Lent, looking forward to Eastertide for release, festival and insight. 50 days from deliverance from Egypt at the banks of the Red Sea to Mount Sinai and the giving of Torah. 50 days from post-Passover planting to first fruits and the Jewish harvesting of wheat. In Hebrew, Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks, meaning they counted 7×7 weeks, or 49 days from Passover, before celebrating Shavuot on the 50th day. Hellenistic Jews re-named the holiday in Greek to convey the 50 days calendar, thus Pentecost. From Passover to Shavuot a time to literally plant and grow. For Egeria and the early church, a time for new baptismal converts to study, learn and spiritually grow. For us….what?!
- I challenge you to make Eastertide a season of intentional spiritual growth, or a continuance of our existing Lenten habits to dive deeper into Christ. What Lenten habit, experience or resource are you going to bring with you into Eastertide? For instance, I am continuing this daily reflection!
- What new spiritual habit might you adopt for Eastertide? I am beginning my first intensive study of biblical Greek in order to read the New Testament in its original context. I don’t have to finish, but I must start in this season to get moving. I am also working to re-write some family and personal journals in Eastertide. You?!
- For those who are not regularly involved in weekly bible study of some variety….WHY NOT?! There will never be a better time as we all receive a national hall pass to take the time. Our ECOT studies or otherwise…please, please consider being “in the Word” on a daily basis!