Easter has come and gone once again. And probably in your house, as there was in ours, there was a big lead up to last Sunday.
In our house, we read through the last days of Jesus, starting with His entry into Jerusalem and then, on Sunday morning, the empty tomb. We prayed together that we would have a deep appreciation that week in particular for the sacrifice of Jesus and the significance of the resurrection. We bought new clothes, planned Good Friday services, and an Easter Sunday lunch with family.
But now here we are. This week, we will have sandwiches for lunch. Then we will do our usual Sunday chores. We will get the lunches made and the homework polished up for school. This Sunday is back to business as usual. And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.
I remember an Old Testament story of celebration. A momentous day in the life of Israel. It was a day of remembering as well as hoping for the future. It was a day rightly celebrated. This was the second time King David had attempted to return the Ark of God to its resting place in Jerusalem. The first attempt ended badly, for the procession moving the ark had not taken seriously the holiness of God’s presence, and at the end of the day, a man named Uzzah lay dead on the threshing floor (2 Samuel 6). But this time was different.
The right precautions were made. The correct procedure was followed. And the Ark was moved:
“Now David was dressed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, as well as the singers and Chenaniah, the music leader of the singers. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, the sound of the ram’s horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and the playing of harps and lyres” (1 Chronicles 15:27-28).
So intense was the celebration that David let it go even more:
“David was dancing with all his might before the Lord wearing a linen ephod. He and the whole house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of the ram’s horn” (2 Samuel 6:14-15).
Everyone dressed in their Sunday best. Huge party. The king was dancing in his underwear for crying out loud. This was a day of significance – a day to remember. But then came the next day:
“ David appointed some of the Levites to be ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate the Lord God of Israel, and to give thanks and praise to him. Asaph was the chief and Zechariah was second to him. Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel played the harps and lyres, while Asaph sounded the cymbals and the priests Benaiah and Jahaziel blew the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God” (1 Chronicles 16:4-6).
Quite a difference, isn’t it? One the one hand, David was so overcome by the presence of God that he lost all inhibition. He had no shame and was completely overcome by the mercy and love of God, and that made him want to get up and dance. It was a day of significance. A day of emotion. A day of celebration.
On the other hand is the realism of what followed. Back to real life. Back to the everyday. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to not dance in your underwear everyday. That’s what the Sunday after Easter is like. It is the realization that God is the same, regardless of where we are in the calendar, and though it is good and right to completely appropriate to celebrate in extravagant ways on Easter, it becomes disingenuous and insincere to do so everyday. David was wise enough to know it. And because he was, he wasn’t content to just dance in his underwear; he also set up a regular system of worship as the nation went forward.
It’s okay that this Sunday won’t feel like Easter because it’s not Easter. And it’s okay that this Sunday in your church will be, in a sense, “back to normal,” if what we ever do when we meet together as the people of God is normal. That’s because when we don’t give up meeting together, regardless of what the date is on the calendar, we show that we follow a God that is worthy and great regardless of the season, on the day when we dance in our underwear and on the day when it’s difficult not to hit the snooze button. God is God in the spectacular and the regular, the extraordinary and the seemingly mundane. And He is worthy of both spontaneous displays of extravagance and the prioritized and regular occurrences of worship and devotion.
Don’t forget about the Sunday after Easter.