There are 46 calendar days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Yet, we observe 40 days of Lent. Why the discrepancy? Very simple. Sundays don’t count! Each and every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection regardless of the season. Lent, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time: all Sundays are a celebration of the Resurrection. The bridegroom is here and, as Jesus said, when the bridegroom is here there should be no fasting. Give a high five and eat some chocolate because even in the midst of our desert times Christ has defeated suffering, death, and the pain of waiting for redemption. He is here and he is risen. Because of that, your Lenten penance isn’t suspended on Sundays; you’re penance is being reminded that sin and affliction will bow before the central event in the history of the world: the Resurrection. The interruption in the fast is a reminder that you do not earn your salvation. Our salvation has been won by the obedience of Christ. If you resume your eating of chocolate, your use of social media, your consumption of alcohol, you’re acknowledging that you are not working your way to heaven; you’re uniting yourself to Christ Jesus who is heaven. You’re not a slacker. You’re not taking the easy way. And people who continue their fast are not anymore hardcore than those Christians who interrupt their fast. The interruption of the fast is acknowledging that Jesus has already overcome sin and death. Amen.
So why don’t I interrupt my fast?
Our bodies matter. We are not essentially spirit beings that are animating superfluous material. Yes, we are dust and to dust we will return; but “dust” we will not remain! Jesus experienced resurrection in his body because we are not body and soul. We are body-soul. If bodies don’t matter, then Jesus’s body didn’t need to resurrect. It could have remained lifeless and the resurrection could have been a spirit event that the disciples felt in their hearts. When all things are restored in Christ Jesus, your body, my body, will unite to Jesus’s resurrected body. We will experience resurrection in our bodies. These bodies. This very conglomeration of DNA and molecules that houses my memories and contains a record of my history, including my experiences of the Lord, will rise and be in communion with the glorified body of the Lord. This is the faith that is professed every time Christians proclaim the great Creed that was crafted in year 325 in the lakeside city of Nicea.
Our bodies matter.
I want to feel the resurrection in my body. Because of our spiritual atrophy and because we live in the most comfort that humans have ever known, we don’t always feel the true spiritual ache of the resurrection. Too cold? Turn on the heat. Too hot? Turn on the air conditioner. Feel like eating oranges even though they don’t grow in your area and are out of season? No worries. They have been conveniently imported from somewhere on the globe where they are in season and are available everywhere from grubby gas stations to gourmet grocery stores. Do we ever ache and pine anymore? I don’t. I need to feel a yearning for the resurrection and the release from a broken world and I need to feel it in my body.
I pretty much identify with hipster culture. Organic coffee, vinyl music, recycling conscientiousness, Converse, scarves, and local produce. I can’t help it. I am drawn to all of those clichés. But one part of the hipster culture that I can’t stand to be a part of is growing a beard. My beard is coarse and itchy and the follicles on my face get sore. Weird. When I describe this to others they look at me like I have an arm growing out of my chest. But soreness accompanies my beard. The worst is the beard dandruff. Don’t mean to gross you out. I’m just making the point. Tiny white flakes on the front of my shirt are embarrassing.
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I can’t wait to shave the blasted thing off when I get my pogonotrophy going on. This is exactly why I grow a beard during Lent. Through the 46 calendar days my face gets entombed only to be released at noon on Holy Saturday in anticipation of the Easter Vigil. My body aches and then it is free. It is small and it is a silly little thing, and I run the risk of taking myself too seriously with this. Still in all, the celebration of Easter means something very real to my body, just as the day my destiny as a Christian will be fulfilled and my body will be joined to the Risen Body of Jesus the Christ.