Easter and Oktoberfest
What shall we do with Easter, after Easter is over? To ask such a question is a good sign; it means Easter had its intended effect on us. But the question remains.
There are many threats to “keeping Easter”. But one of the most dangerous, and the most pernicious, because it is so subtle, is the threat of “trends”. Fads are different. For pastors to have or have not facial hair - that’s a fad. But trends have a controlling, dominating power to them. When we perceive the trend is toward a more competitive, international marketplace for labor, we feel fear for our children’s futures. Thus we push them and ourselves harder and harder to become more “competitive” adults - to get into the right colleges and careers.
Competitiveness isn’t wrong. But there is a cost, which we rarely count. The trend dominates so many details downstream from that exercise of our predictive powers. It’s the power of the trend, of the storyline to which we give the most credence.
The trajectory of every self-created storyline, as far as I can tell and Scripture tells me, inevitably points downward: we fear the kids’ future, and so we take corrective action now, through much hustle and money.
The effect is pernicious: quiet but effectively, we become distracted from the Bible’s storyline.
After the resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples (and us) a storyline: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
The first piece of the storyline is the ever-present presence of God, who is with us, as a good Father is with His children. This is one for us by the cross. Therefore, we remind ourselves of the gospel constantly, that we might not seek in material goods what only God can provide. But the second piece is the end of the storyline.
Easter is my favorite holiday, because I’m a Christian. But if I wasn’t a Christian, Oktoberfest would be my favorite holiday. It’s not the beverages; it’s the company, the setting, the beauty. It’s being at table with people I love, around a good meal, in the turning-leaves beauty, in the crisp, fall air.
I think I have it backwards: I love Oktoberfest, because of the Bible’s storyline, which ends in a great marriage feast, which Oktoberfest dimly pictures. And that feast was won for us at the empty tomb.
To carry Easter forward is to look forward to the end of the real storyline, and work backwards from that day. We won’t go wrong.