There’s an old riddle about the math of Lent, which you may recall measures forty days in length, corresponding to Jesus’ forty days of testing in the wilderness. Which means that if anyone asks how long is Lent, maybe you’re even on Jeopardy, the answer is forty. Except if you look on a calendar, it’s forty-six days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Oops! The discrepancy is resolved easily enough when you realize that the six Sundays of Lent don’t count as part of that most somber season.

Those six Sundays do factor, however, into another liturgical math problem, one less known than the Lenten riddle. If the length of Lent problem is too easy for you, try this one: How many days are there in Easter? If this were the Final Jeopardy “answer” (recalling how they reverse Q and A on that show), I would recommend caution before you risk everything. “What is 1?” would be incorrect!

Easter obviously comes around only one day a year in terms of a packed sanctuary and that amazing music, along with delicious cinnamon rolls for brunch between services. But Easter is so central to the Christian way of telling time that the liturgical calendar names the fifty days afterwards as the season of Eastertide. That’s roughly 1/7 of the year, just as every Sunday is 1/7 of the week and still a kind of resurrection day. That by the way is why the six Sundays in Lent don’t count, because every Sunday is Easter.

There is a great hymn that is not in our Chalice Hymnal but is included in the songbook of many traditions. It’s titled, “Easter People, Raise Your Voices.” The third verse reads:
Every day to us is Easter
With its resurrection song
Even when life overwhelms us
Easter people sing this song:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Everlasting Sunday song.

Except, technically that’s not quite true. Remember, we’re crunching numbers here, and mathematics calls for precision. It’s not that every day is Easter but rather every Sunday. The forty days of Lent and Holy Week especially are not Easter! Remembering Jesus’ crucifixion can only be fully meaningful if we enter into Jesus’ suffering and then on Easter Sunday fully celebrate God raising him from the dead.

I was thinking about this Easter math because of the story I’m preaching on this coming Sunday. It’s found in Acts 20:7-12, the story of another resurrection, albeit a strange one. (Of course, resurrection always constitutes a strange twist of things.) The book of Acts is a sequel to Luke’s Gospel, the second volume showing how what was begun in Jesus continues in the church. In the case of this Sunday’s scripture, the resurrection piece is part of the early church’s worship, a young boy raised from the dead. In other words, in a way we are raised from the dead every week in our worship.