Easter begins with the Triduum. The what?
The word comes from the Latin for ‘three days’: Maundy Thursday/ Good Friday (the liturgical "day" beginning with the Mass of the Last Supper on Thursday), Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday up to Evening Prayer (Vespers). It is three days because Easter isn’t just the rising of Christ. It is also the dying. So, in our churches, we follow the action step by step. We do it so thoroughly because at Easter we baptise adults who wish to become members of the Church. And, in baptism, we die with Christ so that we might rise with him. As the new Christians follow those final steps with Christ, so too do we accompany them, renewing the commitment of our own baptism.
The liturgy each day is dramatic and moving; the ritual, enhanced by its own colour, re-telling the story, from the white of the Last Supper, with its washing of feet and the institution of the Eucharist, and the stripping of the altar to reflect the nakedness and vulnerability of Christ as he is betrayed, tried and condemned ; then the blood-red of the passion on Good Friday, when we venerate the Cross ; the silence of Holy Saturday ; and so to the triumphant white of the newly-lighted Easter candle, the reclaiming and proclaiming of the Gloria and Alleluias, the baptisms, and the solemn Easter Eucharist with its many readings setting before us the history of God's plan of salvation.
The eggs,bunnies and daffodils of secular celebration are nothing to do with the Church, though some have seen the egg as a symbol both of the rolled-away tombstone, and of new birth. These images reflect rather the springtime season which coincides (by no accident) with our story of resurrection.
We celebrate Easter for seven weeks. We listen to the stories of the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. The great themes of Christianity are laid out before us. Christ calls for faith and commitment. He reminds us that he is the Vine, without whom we cannot have life, and the Good Shepherd, without whom we cannot be secure. He invites us to follow his example by living in loving service of those around us.
Then he is gone. We celebrate the feast of the Ascension, when he returned to his Father, to Lordship and glory. We wait, in prayerful expectation, nine days until the feast of Pentecost. Red is now the colour of fire, of zeal and energy ( although its old-English name is Whitsun, White Sunday, possibly because of white robes worn by those being baptised on this day). As He sent his Holy Spirit on the dis-spirited Eleven, to calm their fears and stimulate their enthusiasm, so he renews His Spirit in the Church, so that we can be renewed in the work he left us, to take his Good News to every corner of the earth.