Season of Easter
Easter isn’t just a Sunday — it’s a season. One day out of 365 is hardly sufficient to celebrate the great mystery of our faith — that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Accordingly, the season of Easter lasts seven weeks (a “week of weeks”), spanning the 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday and encompassing the festival of the Ascension of the Lord.
The season of Easter is intended to be a joyful time for celebrating the presence of the risen Christ in the church. If your congregation doesn’t already celebrate the Lord’s Supper (a feast with the risen Lord) each week, the season of Easter is an excellent and appropriate time to explore this practice.
Of course, Easter really isn't just a season either. In the fullest sense, Easter is a new way of life — in which we are "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11), called to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Every year, for fifty days, the church celebrates and rehearses this new way of life in the Season of Easter — as we await its completion in the fullness of Christ's reign.
A week of Sundays
An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 117)
For seven weeks, a week of Sundays, we acclaim the resurrection of Christ by the power of God. The period of seven weeks of jubilation can be traced back to its Jewish roots of the fifty days celebrated from the day after Passover to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, Exodus 23:16). For Jews, the Feast of Weeks closed the season of harvest, which had been initiated by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In a similar manner, early Christians observed a fifty-day period of celebration from Easter to the Day of Pentecost. To underscore the uninterrupted rejoicing of these fifty days, fasting and kneeling in prayer were forbidden at least as early as the end of the second century. On the pentecoste (“fiftieth”) day, not only was the fifty-day period concluded, but a festival with its own proper content was celebrated. The Jews observed a feast of covenant renewal and eventually commemorated the giving of the Law. Christians celebrated the gift of the Spirit as preparing the way for the day of the Lord. What Moses and the Law did for the Jewish community, the Holy Spirit now does for the community of Christ.
Lectionary readings for the Easter Season
Read the Revised Common Lectionary Scripture lessons for the Second Sunday of Easter:
Resources for the Season of Easter
Prayers for the Season of Easter
These prayers might be used in a variety of settings: Opening Prayers (at the beginning of worship) or concluding collects (after the Prayers of the People); for church websites or newsletters; or in personal, small group or family devotion.
A prayer celebrating God's gracious gifts to us, adapted from a Hebrew Passover song of praise. This could be used in lieu of a prayer of confession during Easter as a way of extending Easter's song of praise.
Eucharistic prayers for Easter
These brief eucharistic prayers are drawn from the themes and images of the Revised Common Lectionary texts for the six Sundays of Easter between the Resurrection of the Lord and the Day of Pentecost. This format for prayer is especially effective and appropriate for congregations celebrating the Lord’s Supper each Sunday during the Season of Easter.
This handout provides a comparison of the parallel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection in each of the four Gospels as well as other biblical references related to resurrection. It may be useful for preaching or teaching about the Resurrection of the Lord.
Find resources and ideas for celebrating the Lord’s Supper (as often as each week!) in the Season of Easter.
Download musical settings of the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen to the tune “Easter Hymn” (Jesus Christ Is Risen Today).
I have been challenged to vary serving communion to demonstrate the breadth of meaning in the Lord's Supper. I am posting my plans at: http://www.christwinfield.org/scroll/?p=605 What suggestions do you have.
Any resources for 2011 World Communion Sunday?
Charlotte, that's great news! I'm happy to hear that weekly eucharist in Easter has been successful in your congregation, and hope others will follow your lead. Thanks for sharing this encouraging word.
We have been celebrating the eurcharist every Sunday beginning with Easter. I have tried to vary the liturgy somewhat in an effort to highlight different aspects of the sacrament. I anticipated some push back from members of the congregation, but have received none; and actually have received some positive feedback, although not much. Thanks for the encouragement to celebrate the great fifty days this way. It gave me the opportunity to suggest it to the leadership of the church.