Post-Easter "Letdown?" - Some Thoughts


The phrase "letdown" is commonly associated with athletic competition (at least in my mind, it is). I love sports and enjoy watching tournaments, especially those where my favorite players or teams are competing. One of the sports I really enjoy is golf. For a golf fan, the four majors are centerpieces of an entire season. The Masters, one of the four majors, was held last week during Holy Week and ended on Easter Sunday (an odd schedule, but "par for the course" in a secular society!). I wasn't able to watch the final round on Resurrection Sunday, as I had a preaching engagement followed by travel to a family gathering, but I was able to catch up later in the evening in the news and some replays. If there are, say, tournaments being held each week back to back, it is very common for a golfer to win a tournament one week, and then completely miss the cut the following week. So if Bubba Watson, who won the Masters, was to play this week, it is likely that he will perform dismally. They commonly attribute this to the "letdown" phenomenon- when an athlete or a team competes at such superior level so as to win a significant competition, that the next event which is relatively less prestigious becomes less important and not worth the same effort.

The Monday after Easter, my Facebook page was unusually quiet. The usual frenetic traffic of posts was relatively sparse, actually. Then I started seeing posts (from pastors, too) throwing caution to the coming "post-Easter letdown" this Sunday. It got me to thinking again about some interesting but familiar thoughts I have had about this cyclical "phenomenon." It seems that this post-Easter fatigue of sorts hearkens back to several possible causation. First, it is plain to see - upon closer examination - that the seasons after Easter (the post-Resurrection appearances, Pentecost, Ordinary Time) are the most neglected segments of sacred time in the Christian liturgical tradition. The stories of the risen Jesus' appearances to the disciples, the nature and work of the Holy Spirit - emphasized after Easter and during Pentecost - are relatively neglected. How this attitude developed through time requires a broader discussion. Suffice it to say, it is self-evident. Second, it is not difficult to infer a secular connection to the joyous and celebratory atmosphere surrounding Advent, Christmas and Easter. These Christian holidays are inseparably connected to, or embedded in, the materialism of popular culture in which all of us are intertwined. There might be other reasons why the liturgical seasons between Easter and Advent are the most neglected. Pastors and church staff are exhausted after Easter!

Yet the Bible tells us amazing things that happened after the resurrection of Jesus. The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the Book of Acts, I Corinthians - recount numerous appearances of the risen Jesus in his miraculously new flesh and blood - he appears to Mary, ate with the disciples in numerous places, goes through closed doors, lets Thomas touch his wounds, hangs around with his disciples for 40 days before he ascends to heaven, recommissions them, tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit who was to birth and impart life to the church and inaugurate their new mission on earth - these things preceded the most rapid and explosive growth of the faith! There is no "letdown" in those post-Easter accounts - in them is a plethora of wisdom of immeasurable riches to learn.

Easter was a triumph, indeed. It was a victory that gave power to the church in her journey from that day forward. Perhaps if we separate the notion that our holy days must be accompanied by the trappings of secular materialism, its trinkets and tinsels, store sales, and heightened consumerism, and a fiesta atmosphere in order for them to be legitimate "holidays" - perhaps, then, we can truly see the meaning of the post-Easter events through the eyes of the first disciples - as moments full of power and eternal significance. So let's proclaim the post-Easter stories. There is much to tell. Have a "letdown-free" Sunday!