Eastertide (7)

There had been a Copernican revolution in the thinking of these early Jews due to the Easter events, and this led rather rapidly to a Christological reformulation of monotheism which one can see as well in the remarkable Christian “Shema” in 1 Corinthians 8:6: “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” This so clearly echoes Deuteronomy 6:4—“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One”—only now the term God is applied to the Father and Lord to Jesus Christ. This shows just how profound a change had occurred in the thinking of devout Jews like Paul. Not even the odes of salvation history in the Old Testament give any hint of God sharing His praise or divine work with anyone else.  

—Ben Witherington III, We Have Seen His Glory: A Vision of Kingdom Worship, 72

Eastertide (6)

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands,
And brings us life from Heaven.
Wherefore let us joyful be,
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of Alleluia! Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer Death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth,
And therefore Death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage. Alleluia!

But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
To our low state descended,
The cause of Death He has undone,
His power forever ended,
Ruined all his right and claim
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Stripped of power, no more it reigns,
An empty form alone remains
Death’s sting is lost forever! Alleluia!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!

So let us keep the festival
Where to the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended! Alleluia!

Then let us feast this Easter day
On the true Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and wicked leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our Meat and Drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other! Alleluia!

—Martin Luther (1524)

Eastertide (5)

The Lord is risen indeed!
Now is His work performed;
now is the mighty captive freed,
and death’s strong castle stormed.

The Lord is risen indeed!
Then hell has lost his prey;
with Him is risen the ransomed seed
to reign in endless day.

The Lord is risen indeed!
He lives, to die no more;
He lives, the sinner’s cause to plead,
whose curse and shame He bore.

The Lord is risen indeed!
Attending angels, hear!
Up to the courts of heaven with speed
the joyful tidings bear.

Then take your golden lyres,
and strike each cheerful chord;
join, all ye bright celestial choirs,
to sing our risen Lord.

—Words: Thomas Kelly, 1802; Music: St. Michael, NARENZA (Meter: SM)

Eastertide (4)

In the cosmic newness revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ we find the promise and foretaste of our own transformation. We are privileged to be participants of the divine nature. Therefore the church celebrates the resurrection of Christ and of the whole creation as the center of a weekly cycle, every Lord’s day, and as the center of an annual cycle, every Easter.

Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 38

Eastertide (3)

Easter puts Jesus’ life in a whole new light. Apart from Easter I would think it a tragedy that Jesus died young after a few short years of ministry. What a waste for Him to leave so soon, having affected so few people in such a small part of the world! Yet, viewing that same life through the lens of Easter, I see that was Jesus’ plan all along. He stayed just long enough to gather around Him followers who could carry the message to others. Killing Jesus, says Walter Wink, was like trying to destroy a dandelion seed-head by blowing on it.

—Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, 225-6

Eastertide (2)

Easter preceded by Lent is the primary annual cycle of the calendar; secondary to it is Christmas preceded by Advent. This is true both theologically and historically. It is the resurrection that interprets the birth of Jesus. Apart from the resurrection, Jesus has no more claim upon us than Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Anwar Sadat: He was simply one among many good leaders who managed to meet an unjust death.

This theological assertion is buttressed by historical facts: (1) What is presumably the oldest of the four Gospels pays no attention whatever to the birth of Jesus, beginning instead with the account of his baptism; and Paul makes only passing references to Jesus’ birth (as in Galatians 4:4 and Philippians 2:7). Only later did Matthew and Luke attach enough importance to the nativity to comment upon it extensively. (2) Even more significant: Although the resurrection was observed liturgically in the church from its very inception, the earliest recorded liturgical observance of Christmas Day falls well into the fourth century.

Laurence Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 49-50