In the liturgical calendar, seasons of fasting are always proceeded by even longer periods of feasting. Easter lasts fifty days, from Resurrection Sunday until Pentecost, a two-month celebration of the risen Christ.
My church celebrates the season through a series of church-wide feasts. We gather in one another’s homes—a hundred of us stuffed into a tight Boston apartment—for weekly potluck meals. This year, one host went so far as to roast a whole goat. The season brings together folks who attend different services, breathing new life and new relationships into our congregation. We dine together ten times with the sole purpose of enjoying one another.
I often meditate on Norman Wirzba’s definition of Sabbath rest. He views Sabbath not as a reprieve from life, but a reprieve from the distractions that keep us from engaging with it. Sabbath, he says, is the time to simply rest in and enjoy all that God has made. I tend to slip into the belief that we are commanded to rest one day in order to make it through our six days of hard work. But Wirzba flips this idea. We work six days so that on the seventh, we can simply rest in the beauty of Creation.
This year, my Lenten practice was writing a series about bread on my blog.
While many people took a break from social media or cut back on sweets, I did the opposite. I spent extra time each day in my kitchen and at my keyboard. It was a beautiful season, but by the time Easter came, I was ready for an online break. I decided to celebrate Eastertide by stepping away from my media presence. It felt, at first, as though I’d flipped the script. I added a practice during the season of fasting, and I took something away when it came time to feast.
But through this break, I’ve found that when applied to fasting and feasting, Wirzba’s definition of Sabbath breathes new life into Easteride as well.
Just as fasting is not self-inflicted suffering, but a time to practice setting aside distraction in order to draw near to God, so feasting is not a time of gluttonous consumption, but a time of delighting in the God we’ve work so hard to draw near.
My Eastertide celebration this year is an extended Sabbath rest, setting aside the things that have begun to distract me from God—namely Facebook and my blog—in order to delight in the ways that this very blog has helped me to draw Him near.
On Good Friday, I sat around a campfire with friends and talked about death. We sipped whiskey and reflected on the lives of friends and coworkers that passed away during Lent this year and years past. We prayed for the death, the darkness, and the brokenness that is so apparent in our world right now. We acknowledged together just how far Creation is from the full redemption that Jesus promises is to come.
But we reflected knowing that one night later, we would celebrate new life. In the liminal time between Good Friday and Holy Saturday, we experienced the intermingling of the already and not yet, the hideous beauty of the sacred and the profane, the interdependence of life and death. We reflected on death and brokenness knowing that it could lead us into our call of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. But I’ve found that before stepping more fully into that call, I also need a season to reflect on the beauty already come. To find joy and sustenance in the risen Christ, the small foretaste of the Kingdom not yet.
When used hand in hand, fasting and feasting serve to remind us always of the liminal space we inhabit. This season of rest, of finding God in the new flowers budding outside, the friends gathered in my small home, and the life found away from my computer screen—is filling me with joy. It is instilling in me new hope that the Kingdom of God is indeed to come.
It is just the juxtaposition I need to sustain me in activism.
The reminder that Christ has died, Christ is risen.
But most importantly, Christ will come again.