Come pray with us on Thursday, May 2, on the steps of the Enterprise City Hall, at Noon.
Author Archives: greenhillpc
Easter isn’t just a Sunday — it’s a season. One day out of 365 is hardly sufficient to celebrate the great mystery of our faith — that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Accordingly, the season of Easter lasts seven weeks (a “week of weeks”), spanning the 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday and encompassing the festival of the Ascension of the Lord.
The season of Easter is intended to be a joyful time for celebrating the presence of the risen Christ in the church. If your congregation doesn’t already celebrate the Lord’s Supper (a feast with the risen Lord) each week, the season of Easter is an excellent and appropriate time to explore this practice.
Of course, Easter really isn’t just a season either. In the fullest sense, Easter is a new way of life — in which we are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11), called to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Every year, for fifty days, the church celebrates and rehearses this new way of life in the Season of Easter — as we await its completion in the fullness of Christ’s reign.
The festival of the Resurrection of the Lord (or Easter Sunday) is the center of the Christian year. On this occasion the church joyfully proclaims the good news that is at the very heart of the gospel: that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
It is sometimes said that every Sunday is a little Easter; liturgical theologian Laurence Stookey suggests that it might be more appropriate to say that every Easter is a great Sunday (Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, Abingdon Press, 1996, 158-161). Easter Sunday is the Lord’s Day writ large: a great annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week. As such, the service should be centered around the typical and fundamental elements of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day: the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Easter Sunday is also an especially appropriate time for the sacrament of Baptism, if not celebrated during the Easter Vigil of the previous night.
Easter Sunday is something like the keystone of an arch — the top and center stone upon which all the other stones lean and depend — both in terms of its theological significance and its relation to other events in the Christian year. Theologically speaking, the faith we claim and the life we live depend on the affirmation, celebration and proclamation of Christ’s resurrection. In a chronological sense — since Easter is a “moveable feast,” taking place on a different date each year — all the other events of the Christian year (from the Transfiguration of the Lord and Ash Wednesday through Pentecost and Trinity Sunday) pivot around the date of Easter Sunday, shifting accordingly.
For Western Christians (Catholics and Protestants) the date of Easter is the first Sunday that comes after the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21 (the Spring Equinox) — occasionally shifted to the following Sunday, when the original date happens to coincide with the Jewish Passover. This computation means that Easter always occurs sometime between March 22 and April 25, inclusive. The Eastern Churches (Greek and Russian Orthodox, e.g.) use a different set of astronomical tables based on the Julian Calendar (instead of the Gregorian), which means that Orthodox Easter generally follows the Western date by one, four, or five weeks (sometimes occurring in early May).
Rev. David Jamison
Sermon Title: Christ is Risen; Praise the Lord!
Service begins at 11:00am * All are Welcome!
First Scripture: Acts 10:34-43
Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 15:19-26
Gospel Lesson: Luke 24:1-12
The Easter Vigil is historically the first service of Easter. In fact, Christian feast days generally begin at sunset on the previous day (best known in the example of Christmas Eve). For this reason, the duration of the Easter Triduum (“three days”) is from the evening of Maundy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. The same principle applies to the Jewish reckoning of liturgical time, in which the sabbath begins at dusk and continues to nightfall of the following day. This is reflected in the priestly “refrain” of the Genesis 1 creation story: “and it was evening, and it was morning, the nth day.”
One of the first annual events of the Christian year, after the celebration of the resurrection on every Lord’s Day, was a commemoration of Christ’s dying and rising at Easter. Over the years, one day was split into three different rituals to remember the Last Supper and New Commandment (Maundy Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and the struggle to make meaning of the cross in light of the whole of salvation history (the Great Vigil) — all culminating in Easter at day break.
What was originally one annual service remembering the Lord’s death and resurrection became split into separate services in order to pay closer attention to the significant details of Christ’s death and resurrection. These were considered to be part of one salvific activity of God and thus celebrated as such without a benediction until the end of the service with the Easter announcement that “Christ is risen!”
The Three Days or Triduum (Maundy Thursday at sundown through sundown of Easter) are the most solemn of the church year. The whole church’s participation is encouraged in this time of great significance for all who would be formed in the Christian faith, especially catechumens. The Great Vigil of Easter was the time set aside for the annual baptism of new Christians, coinciding with the eucharistic dawning of God’s reign in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.