Easter Sunday is a totally different experience from the agony of Good Friday. For some, the festivities begin with a Saturday night vigil and a midnight feast. For others a sunrise service, a reminder of the women who came to the tomb at dawn, and a breakfast celebration herald this important day. Traditionally, Easter Sunday is also a time for the baptism of new believers who symbolically take on the story of Christ as they die to their sins and are raised to new life. At Tom Balke’s Mennonite Brethren church in British Columbia, Easter Sunday and Good Friday services are an integrated whole. On Good Friday, each member is given a nail to hold throughout the service. At the appropriate moment they come forward and nail it into a life-sized cross. On Easter Sunday chicken wire covers the cross over the nails and people come forward to insert flowers into the cross. Tom told us “It is important that our nails are still there- the cross has not been sanitized.”
The Easter season does not end with Easter Sunday however. It extends until Pentecost and celebrates both the resurrection of Christ and also the many ways the resurrected Christ comes to meet us.
My most vivid memories of Easter date back to my first year on board the M/V Anastasis. The fragrant aroma of lamb impregnated with rosemary and garlic wafted towards me as I walked along the dusty street in Elevesis, Greece. Everywhere I looked men squatted over BBQ pits erected in backyards and along the footpaths, laughing and joking together. They patiently turned the homemade spits, basting the lamb trussed firmly in place over the fire. They were preparing for the most important feast of the year, the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Christ. The crowded little blue and white houses bulged at the seams as family members gathered from all over the country to join the festivities. Inside the women bustled around preparing mountains of Greek salad with fresh feta cheese, sun-ripened tomatoes, and black kalamata olives. Delicious herb covered potatoes roasted in the ovens and sweet Greek pastries dripping with honey adorned enormous platters.
Ella, ella! (Come, come) people called as we stopped to savor the smells, and beckoned us in to join them with wide welcoming smiles. This was a time of open hospitality, a reminder that Christ welcomes all of us into God’s family. Soon we too were sitting around the magnificent feast enthusiastically participating in the joyous celebration. Shouts of Christo anasti (Christ is risen) brought from us the response Allythos anasti (He is risen indeed) as we all rejoiced together in the memory of our risen Saviour. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I wasn’t just reading the Easter story, I was living it as well.
Whatever your tradition, Easter should be a time to celebrate with open arms and open hearts, as we rejoice in the wonder of the risen Christ and all that his sacrifice means to us and our world. This is a time for hospitality. In some traditions the Easter table is left laden with food from Easter breakfast throughout the holiday season to welcome any guests who come. One of my dreams for the future is to have a huge Easter BBQ when we roast a whole lamb, Greek style, over an open spit in the backyard and invite a crowd of people over for a huge celebration. .
 Adapted from Sacred Rhythms: Finding a Peaceful Pace in a Hectic World, Christine Sine, (Baker Books 2003