Posted by Gareth Gilkeson on 17 April 2014

Recently we made a pretty significant theological breakthrough as a community, and it has changed everything about how we approach life and faith together: we realised that seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit. 

But joy is.  

You see there is an irrepressible laughter in the heart of God. You can see it in the One who invented holidays and feasting, whose Son kept the party going with His first every miracle, who - as Hebrews reminds us - suffered the cross “for the joy set before Him”. It’s there in way that the whole story of human history is described in terms of a celebration - the marriage of Christ to His bride the church. And if it all wasn't clear enough the bible even tells us that Our Father sings and dances over us. He rejoices over us. Our God is the ultimate artist of celebration. The inventor of the party and the healer of the broken.

Soon it’s going to be Easter. We’ll all kick off on Sunday morning, enjoying the biggest celebration of the year, and it’ll be great. 

But some of us will be feeling a little confused. If Easter Sunday’s so great, how do we deal with the fear that comes with Maundy Thursday, the pain of Good Friday and the silence of Easter Saturday? 

For some of us, the days leading up to our celebration of Christ’s resurrection can feel odd and out of place. 

But I don’t think for one minute that they have to. I don’t think that celebration has to be kept far away from sorrow. And if you take a look back to the days of the early church, the reason becomes clear:

During the first century Christians made a significant change to their meetings. Instead of continuing the Jewish tradition of meeting on a Saturday - the end of the week, their main gatherings started to take place on a Sunday, right at the start of a new one. For the Jews this made little sense at all; why stop imitating God who – as the Genesis story reminds us – rested at the end of the first week? 

For the Christians, however, the choice of Sunday as Sabbath was deliberate and full of meaning. To meet on the symbolic first day of the week aligned the Church with God’s transformation of the darkness. It was an echo of new life, the massive transformation that was to be found in Jesus’s resurrection. By starting the week with a day devoted to God, the early church aligned themselves with the belief that Jesus transformed everything: every pain, every wound, every death would never have to be the same again. Fear, pain and loneliness are not unknown to God. Nor are they too powerful for Him.

Isn’t that worth celebrating?

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