On the Friday afternoon after Easter Sunday several years ago, I picked up my then-three-year-old daughter from daycare. As we rode home, she asked about our plans for the weekend. Still high off of egg hunts and Easter festivities, she said with excitement, “Today is Friday, and tomorrow is Saturday, and then it’s Sunday! It’s Easter again!” And she clapped and cheered. I started to correct her, but then I paused and answered a different way: “Yes, Honey, Sunday is Easter all over again.”
Her instinct was right. Easter is not just that one celebratory Sunday in the church year, when we all deck out in our finest and gather with our family and friends and proclaim “Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!” As people of the resurrection, we celebrate Easter every Sunday.
What does it look like to live out that conviction? How might we, in the words of Nora Gallagher, “practice resurrection” so that our lives become a testament to what happened on Easter?
We can take a cue from the early church in the book of Acts. Those first followers of Jesus kept practicing resurrection because they kept watching for the movement of God’s spirit. They knew that God had acted on Easter, and they believed that God continued to act among them in ways they could not imagine. The Holy Spirit is all through the book of Acts, blowing and changing things in every direction. It seems like every time the wind blows, there it is, stirring up notions that are inconceivable.
We often symbolize the Holy Spirit with a dove, representing how God’s spirit comes to us bringing peace and tranquility. We also talk about the Spirit as a Comforter, surrounding us with warmth and protection. But the Celtic Christians have a different image for the Holy Spirit. It’s another bird, but it is just about the furthest thing from a dove. The Celts describe the Holy Spirit as a wild goose. Noisy and rowdy, untamable, unpredictable, free. A wild goose is always on the move, stirring things up and keeping us on our toes.
It seems that the wild goose version of the Spirit is the one that showed up in Acts so often, pecking, prodding, chasing them in a direction they would not naturally go. The wild goose spirit is not the part of God that wraps around us to protect us from harm. She is the part of God that pushes us beyond our comfort zones. She calls us to imagine possibilities that are beyond our scope.
The question for us is whether we believe in a God who acts like that. Is our God old and tired, content with the way things are, someone we want to answer our prayer requests but not anyone we really expect to change our lives? Or do we keep on our toes, just in case the Spirit of God decides to chase us like a wild goose into some new possibility we have not yet imagined?
When we practice resurrection we embrace the possibility that God can do a new thing in us. After all, God has not called us to try to say where the Spirit may or may not blow. God has asked us to try to keep up with wherever it goes.
“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:19, The Message)
Julie Long is associate director of Baptist Women in Ministry.