You can drink your coffee again! You can drink your beer again! You can eat your chocolate again (and don't the marketers of Easter Bunnies LOVE that)!
No, getting out of Lent... and Lenten discipline... isn't the point of Easter. Or at least that's not what I would advocate.
The point, as I've come to understand it in my "gay lay way", is that all that has held us down and kept us from being full of life, love and joy has been laid down, dead and buried. And on this day we can re-emerge into the world... resurrected in the same way be it metaphorically that God, as Jesus, overcame death and has reappeared to his friends proving that we CAN and we WILL survive "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that the world hurls at us daily.
For me, as a gay person, this is a message of amazing power and possibility. Today, as I sat up at the altar listening to the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians, I nearly started to cry:
"Last of all, as one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them--though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me."
To be included in the community of Christians, for many of us who are gay, has been a long, painful struggle to not only feel acceptance from others, but to first accept that we really are accepted by God. Some of us may have believed ourselves unworthy of such an outrageous Love and kept ourselves apart from God. Some of us may have internalized the words of those who I believe are the false prophets of a gospel of exclusion which simply doesn't exist in the Bible, and I don't even think exists in those books left on the cutting-room floor when the canon was created. Our exile... both self-imposed and from others... led to bitterness toward Christ's message. In such a situation... the sweetness of Easter isn't really possible.
Sunday after Sunday I've wept in the pew as I continously heard the words... through the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer, the hymns, the readings and even sermons, that I am more than OK in the eyes of God: I am good, just like all of creation. I have found myself in prayer after communion reduced to a simple repeating of the phrase "thank you".
Thank you for including me at the table.
Thank you for your example of "the way" to be with people.
Thank you for loving me in my perfect imperfection.
Thank you for never abandoning me.
Thank you for giving me strength and courage in this mean world to make it through to the next day.
I have struggled against myself to come to where I am. To feel a part of Christ's radical and rebellious spirit of love, and to know that even when that love is seen as a threat to those in power it will win out in the end is reason to scream: Yay, Easter!!
I couldn't help but smile today as I watched the acolyte attempt to extinguish the Paschal candle at the end of the service. The flame was stubborn, refusing to be put out. My hope for all reading this is that light of a resurrected and renewed spirit remains equally as stubborn in your heart today and always.