Eastertide

“Easter” is the period of eight Sundays [until Pentecost], comprising fifty days, often called as a unit “the Great Fifty Days.” For the explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.

Easter is not one closing day at the end of a lengthy period of Lent. Easter is one extended rejoicing in the resurrection that more than exceeds in length the Lenten disciplines. The first day of the season, Easter Day, is the opening of a protracted celebration, even as the Resurrection is itself the opening to a vast new reality.

“The First Sunday After Easter” implies Easier is over, having lasted only one day. But “the Second Sunday of Easter” (for the same date) indicates that Easter is an extended season, whose essential character is shared by all of its parts.

–-Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 54, 56-7

He Is Risen!

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 Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 44,54

“Seven Stanzas at Easter”

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

—John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter” from Telephone Poles and Other Poems

Resurrection Perspective

It was not that the disciples of Jesus were more stupid than other human beings and therefore “just didn’t get it.” It was that neither they nor we can “get it” until we know how the story ends. The birth, ministry, and death of Jesus must be understood in light of the resurrection or the understanding will be greatly diminished. It is no accident that the observance of Christian time, the day and the week and the year, is grounded in and organized around the resurrection celebration.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 27-28

Easter Joy

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives forever.
He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that His vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that His wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose,
in His life I live, in His victory I triumph,
in His ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive Thine enemies behind Thee.
What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.

—from The Valley of Vision

What Has God Done?

What has God done in raising Jesus from the dead? Here are a few biblical answers.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, death will never have any dominion over Him again. (Romans 6:9: Acts 13:34)

Because of the resurrection, Jesus intercedes for us in heaven before God. (Romans 8:34)

Jesus’ resurrection was the beginning and guarantee of our resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:20; 2 Corinthians 4:14)

We were raised with Jesus so that our true life is hidden now in Him. (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-4)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are born again to a living hope. (1 Peter 1:3:)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we now enjoy His personal fellowship with us always. (Matthew 28:20)

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, He has a name above every name and every knee will bow to Him. (Philippians 2:9-10)

The resurrection of Jesus means that Jesus kept His word. (Matthew 17:22)

The resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures and the promises of God. (1 Corinthians 15:4; Acts 13:32-33)

Because Jesus was raised, He has received the promise of the Spirit and poured out the Spirit on us. (Acts 2:33)

Because Jesus is raised, He can still heal the way He did on earth. (Acts 4:10)

Because of the resurrection, He gives repentance and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)

Because Jesus was raised, He is now appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42: Acts 17:31)

God secured our justification by raising Jesus from the dead. (Romans 4:25)

The risen Christ takes the place for us that the law once had so that we can bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:4)

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, He now has the glory for which we were made. Our ultimate destiny is to see Him as He is. (1 Peter 1:21: John 17:5, 24)

—John Piper