Like Christmas, the fullness of the resurrection requires more than a day to unpack. The Easter season is a fifty-day celebration that ends on Pentecost Sunday (the Greek word pentekoste means “fiftieth”). The Easter season is a time to let the implications of the resurrection sink in deeper, inviting us to realign our worldview and conform our living to the reality that we have been raised with Christ to new life.

Easter is full of joy and the laughter of love—the grave is empty, love has won, Christ is risen! Give yourself over to the experience of that joy—take in the absolute wonder of God’s purposeful plan of salvation. Yet, since resurrection was without precedent, Easter can also be a time of doubt, and so in this season we share with Thomas, and others, the confusion and disbelief about the resurrection. Yet even in doubt or betrayal, Christ our good shepherd restores, guides, and leads us.

The Easter season includes another important but often neglected celebration—Ascension. Ascension is, without question, the wallflower Christian holiday, unnoticed and rarely celebrated. So why not change that and take in the culmination of Jesus’ mission and the clearest unfolding of God’s purposes—a human now is part of the Trinity, the sweet guarantee of our home with God.

After marking Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the church begins a time of concerted prayer, waiting for the gift of God’s Spirit. Ascension and Pentecost turn our attention to the church as the sign of Christ’s continuing presence, the resurrection community as a living witness to the risen, now ascended, Lord. The Easter season concludes on Pentecost Sunday, opening a new chapter in the life and ministry of Jesus, still loving and serving the world, teaching and healing, but now through his people, the church.