“From Ashes to Fire: Planning for the Paschal Season,” is the name of an older worship planning resource on my shelf. It was a valiant attempt by a host of liturgical scholars to connect everything from Ash Wednesday to the Day of Pentecost.

Individually these celebrations hold great meaning for Christians across the globe. I saw plenty of folks walking around town on February 22 with a smudge of ash on their forehead. The first week of April will include any number of worship events from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and even the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, commonly known as Easter.   

Easter, as I remind the students in my faith formation class, is an entire week of weeks, that’s seven (7) full weeks, for a total of 49 days. The days include the Feast of Ascension on the 40th day. The 50th day, the Day of Pentecost, the festival of the Holy Spirit, marks both the end of the season of Easter and the beginning of a new season during which we focus most especially on the life of the church.

And while we are often tempted to distinguish between various individual events, it really is intended by the church to be seen as a SINGLE event, beginning on Ash Wednesday (from ashes …) and continuing until Pentecost (… to fire).

It really did get me thinking this year about how the entire church year is really organized around THE festival which defines Christians, namely Easter. While Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth gets all sorts of attention, it is really Christ’s resurrection which defines us and, for the matter, is the summary of the entire Gospel.

“Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.”  (Romans 6:9)  But that’s not even the best part!  “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4).

You see, at Easter we not only celebrate Christ’s resurrection, we celebrate the hope of our own! At Pentecost we not only rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit for Christ’s disciples, we rejoice in that same gift that is ours as God’s people in Christ.

Peace and joy,