EASTER – A Time to Lament?

“One of the main problems is what I call triumphalism — an emphasis in many churches of things going right for Christians — on the victory of Easter Sunday over the pain of Good Friday. But there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, or the confusion and desolation of Easter Saturday. All aspects from the cross to the resurrection are God’s saving work/the gospel message and should be reflected in the life of the Church.”

Rev Canon Yvonne Richmond Tulloch
Bereavement Friendly Church

I have been reflecting on my own experience of Easter in preparation for some of the ‘post-Pandemic’ services I am planning, and on this statement by my colleague, Yvonne Richmond Tulloch. It reminds me of a story about a band procession, marching down a street to mark Good Friday. As the band got part way down one particular road, someone shouted: “Why are you looking so miserable? He’s alive! JESUS IS ALIVE!” Of course, they’re right, and no doubt we can all picture who that person would be from our church, but with all that’s happened over the past two years, I have been challenged to think whether we give enough space for the lament of Good Friday and Easter Saturday in our worship. Personally, I have been blessed because, growing up, the whole of the Passover weekend was celebrated in my church. And it didn’t stop at Sunday – there was even an Easter Monday Convention to finish off the bank holiday. There was certainly a mournful sense on Good Friday, but the main emphasis was the excitement of Resurrection Sunday. And I don’t remember anything about Easter Saturday. A quick glance through our old song book around the Easter section gives some indication of what I’m talking about: Christ Arose; Christ the Lord is Risen Today; Crown Him with Many Crowns; Hail, Thou Once
Despised Jesus!; Hallelujah, What a Saviour; He Lives; Oh, Shout the News!

“But there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, or the confusion and desolation of Easter Saturday”

So, you may ask, what’s your point? I think, reflecting on Yvonne’s words, I want to say I agree: we should include the other aspects of the Easter season whenever we celebrate. Of course, our denominational perspective may encourage us to lean away from lament but, particularly for those who are bereaved or grieving, allowing space away from the noise, the colour and the energy of ‘triumphalism’ may actually bring people comfort and help them to connect better with the good news story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.