In the Eastern Orthodox Church, a denomination of Christianity that quite literally has liturgical movements for every aspect of human life, the Monday after Sunday is known as "Bright Monday," or "Renewal Monday." In Egypt, the Coptic Christians, a sect of Christianity that hails as one of the oldest on the face of the earth, celebrate; "Sham El Nessim," or "the smelling of the breezes." Although the holiday stems back to at least 2700BC, predating Christ's birth by almost 3,000 years, the day is celebrated as a way to take stock in how life is different after Jesus' life, death and resurrection. As a dog smells the breeze on a fresh ocean morning (picture above), we smell the breeze of life. The thought was that one needs to quite literally "smell the breeze" to detect that even the air we breathe is different the day after Jesus' resurrection. Polish Christians have been celebrating a day called "Dyngus Day," on the Monday after Easter for centuries. Dyngus is more akin to Mardi Gras, a celebration of life after death, usually recognized by the drinking of many bottles of libation.
What I was thinking about today on this Easter Monday, is what the first Easter Monday must have been like. The first Easter Monday after the Easter Sunday, in about 33AD. What was it like to first life in a post-resurection world? We don't know exactly when Jesus met the disciples in the upper room, but it was likely on Sunday afternoon or evening. We don't know for sure when the road to Emmaus occurred, whether on Sunday or Monday or later in the week, but we do know that the entire city of Jerusalem and the countryside was abuzz with chatter the Easter Monday after the Easter Sunday. We know that the word of Jesus' resurrection must have travelled to Rome by the middle of the week (Wednesday), with the aid of a ship or two which would have sailed from the ports of Caesarea, to arrive on the Italian peninsula, and then be carried by horseback rider to the Roman citadels of power. Rumors would have swirled about the rabbi-prophet named Yeshua, who was said to have actually come back from the dead after being crucified. Perhaps the news would have been met with skepticism at first (Jesus was not the first rumored resurrection of a fallen, rural, tribal prophet from the sticks of Judea). The intelligencia and Senators of Rome might have scoffed; "Resurrection of Yeshua…just a nice bit of gossip about a man coming back from the dead. It's just a murmur (a Hebrew onomatopoetic word) among the Jewish widows…not really true, but quaint. Ha Ha!"
Here's the big question for us. How do we in the year 2014 experience Easter Monday? The answer to this question surely boils down to the immediacy and the impact of our experience of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If yesterday (Easter Sunday) was the first time that you learned who Jesus was, how much he loves you, how he died for you, how he loved you enough to come back to life for you, then this day (Easter Monday) has deep significance. It always will. You will never forget this day. Like the day after handing in a final paper for an exam, and receiving an "A" on that paper (but much more portentous), you feel relief today. Like the day after VE day (Victory over Europe Day), you feel a renewed sense of peace and calm and tranquillity. If you have been a Christ follower for many years, then this Easter Monday is likely no different than any other Monday. Perhaps you are able to live in an Easter world; every day is Easter.
For me personally, this Easter Monday has a renewed freshness about it. It isn't just that I am spending time with family in Sacramento, California, away from the 20 degree (snow filled) skies of Denver airport when I left. Easter Monday for me today, on April 21, 2014, has possibility in it. The "breezes" that I am smelling today, are breezes of newness, hope, relaxation, and recuperation. Maybe my own Easter Monday, full of potential and aspiration is not so different than that first Easter Monday on the road to Emmaus. Perhaps Easter Monday is what Easter is all about.
All For Now,