My Holy Week – The Eighth Day

Yes, I know, it’s not Holy Week but that’s my point. This Sunday is one of my favourite days in the year. We call it ‘Low Sunday’ for some reason but in many ways it’s as high and celebratory as last Sunday, as Easter Day itself. This is the eighth day, we have come full circle, back to where we began. But there is no sense of deja-vu, this is a new beginning in itself. That’s why it’s so sad when people seem to think that this is a Sunday they can legitimately have off, as though arriving at Easter Day was such an effort that they need to put their spiritual feet up, turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. There is no such thing as a Low Sunday. Every Sunday is a feast of the resurrection, every Sunday is an eighth day, a recapitulation of the resurrection – and it is thrilling.

That sense of repetition is found in St John’s account of what happened this day.

‘A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.’ (John 20.26)

Thomas meets Jesus on the eighth day

Thomas meets Jesus on the eighth day

They were there again, in that room where everything seemed to happen. But as John goes on to say ‘the doors were still shut’. But Jesus breaks into that space and says ‘Peace be with you.’ It was the same greeting as on the first day and Thomas was there to hear it.

The church exists in this eighth day. We’re people of the new creation and whilst the first day of the week is important it is always the eighth day for us when new creation, resurrection happens.

I’m sorry that Octaves in the life of the church seem to have diminished in importance. The Easter Octave remains quite powerful, the Christmas one seems to be less so – and that is it, no more Octaves in the calendar. But this cycle of eight days of celebration that we can have serves to reinforce this point that the Christian week extends beyond the week, that we haven’t finished celebrating until we revisit the feast, revisit the place, for as Eliot says in his poem ‘Little Gidding’

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

So this for me has been a week of celebration, Easter Week, brought full circle to this Octave Day and then beyond. For we’re called to live in the new, not the old creation, in the new, not the old dispensation, in the new not the old covenant and to know that peace which Jesus brings again and again into the spaces where he finds us.

Lord, easter me,
recreate me,
not only on the first,
not only on the eighth,
but on every day.

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