Christ’s Victory

Christ when he dy’d
Deceiv’d the crosse,
And on death’s side
Threw all the losse;
The captive world awak’t and found
The Prisoners loose, the Jaylor bound.

—Richard Crashaw (1613-49), “Christ’s Victory”

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Music: Good for the Body

The unity of the Body of Christ is not a bland, undifferentiated uniformity, but a rich and manifold concord. Music is uniquely equipped to provide an aural image of this kind of community, in which union is not unanimity, nor multiplicity a cacophony. With every resonant sonority, music testifies to the possibility of this sort of life.

Music provides a compelling sounding image of life together; but it is a shared life in which the distinctive voice of the individual is not negated by communion with the other. In music, we encounter identity which preserves particularity. As we sing together, different sounds—your voice, and mine—occupy the same time and the same space, without obstructing or negating one another.

—Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 645, 643

The Chief Festival of the Church: Every Sunday!

For Christians Sunday is the chief festival occasion of the faith. About this there is much misunderstanding. Many active Christians would say that Christmas is their chief festival. Closer to the mark, but still missing it, are those who would say that Easter Day is the principal feast of the church. What is amiss about such assessments? Simply this: No observance that occurs only once a year can connote the continuing work of God in daily life. Therefore the chief festival occurs weekly, and from it all else is derived, including those annual festivities that may be more visible and certainly are the more popular cultural occasions.

It has become a maxim of late that “every Sunday is a little Easter.” But it would be more accurate to say that “every Easter is a great Sunday.”

—Laurence H. Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 44, 54

Risen!

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Hearts to heav’n and voices raise:
Sing to God a hymn of gladness,
Sing to God a hymn of praise:
He, Who on the cross a Savior,
For the world’s salvation bled,
Jesus Christ, the King of glory,
Now is risen from the dead.

Now the iron bars are broken,
Christ from death to life is born,
Glorious life, and life immortal,
On this resurrection morn:
Christ has triumphed, and we conquer
By His mighty enterprise,
We with Him to life eternal
By His resurrection rise.

—Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) (often sung to the tune Hymn of Joy by Beethoven)

Cosmic Explosion

The resurrection was a kind of cosmic explosion that reverberated in all directions. It gave the followers of Jesus a new understanding of the present, but also of the past and of the future. Through the resurrection (and that alone) the cross, that instrument of capital punishment by the hated Romans, ceased to be an enigmatic embarrassment and became the central symbol of the faith.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 37