For Orthodox churches, Easter Monday, the day after Easter, is known as Bright Monday. In fact, the whole week is treated as one continuous day, with every day being prefaced by the word “Bright.” As a member of the Reformed church, where worship is shorn of much in the way of imagery or symbol, it’s times like this that I feel somewhat short changed. There ought to be a name for the days after Easter. There ought to be an extended celebration of the Resurrection, remembrance of the new life that we have with Christ, not just a continuation of business as usual. In this regard, the Orthodox worship is rich with symbolism that reminds us what has happened as a result of Christ being raised from the dead.
There’s that word “bright,” for example. The word itself connotes a week characterized by gladness or happiness, a stark contrast to the sober tenor of Lent and Good Friday. And then Orthodox services during the week are distinctly different. Everything in the services is sung joyfully rather than read. Normal fasting rules are suspended. All week the doors on the iconostasis, a wall of icons and religious paintings separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church, are kept open, the only time that occurs during the year, a visible reminder of the open tomb.
I need such visible reminders of what has transpired. Christ died and rose again, in the flesh, with a body, and thus there is the promise that we will do so as well. I need a week of brightness to cement that miracle in my memory so that I will never forget the hope I have. Something universe-shattering has happened. Christ became flesh and blood so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death. . . and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15).That’s you and me. Then too there’s the “bright” promise of a recreated world where sin is banished and we live eternally with Christ in non-decaying bodies. That’s plenty to consider this bright week.
Perhaps a week of such brightness may be a partial antidote to my dalliance with the trivial, from my addiction to this world and dependence on earthly circumstances, from my failure to live existentially in the light of the cross and in the shadow of the Second Coming. The tomb is open. The body is not there. The Lord has risen. And so too shall we.