Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise.
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.
I got me flowers to straw thy way:
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.
The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th’East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.
Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.
Easter by George Herbert
Today is Easter Sunday! The day we celebrate is unique in history because it is the only day God the Son was raised from the dead. For Christians, it is the Lord’s Day and we celebrate not only at Easter but on every Sunday of the year. It represents the gift of everlasting life which is offered freely by Jesus to everyone in the world.
The Bible says in John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
We come now to an end and a beginning. Our journey through Lent is complete and we stand with Jesus, celebrating life to the glory of God. Jesus’ death paid for your sins and by grace gives you right standing with God. His resurrection is the promise of your complete restoration for eternity.
Writing in The Word in the Wilderness, Malcolm Guite says:
We have been travelling together in this book through forty eight days together, but if George Herbert is right it has only been one day! From now on there is just the single, eternal day of resurrection and by its light we can look back over our long pilgrimage and see the glory of this day, hidden once, but shining now, in all we have been through.
He is risen!
D I G D E E P E R
Easter in america
An annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The precise origin and development of the celebration of Easter remain obscure, though it is likely that the early church annually celebrated the event of Christ’s resurrection as a parallel to the Jewish Passover celebration. The gospels relate that it was during the Passover season that Christ died and rose from the dead. This connection with Passover is the origin of another ancient name for Easter, Pascha, derived from the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name for the festival. The Council of Nicea in 325 decreed that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the vernal equinox, but the dating of Easter continued to be a matter of controversy within the church.
The celebration of Easter developed as part of a liturgical complex including the events of Holy Week and the preparatory period of Lent. Churches with a strong liturgical tradition reflect in their worship the drama of Christ’s movement toward the cross and the climax in the victory of the resurrection. From as early as the third century, new adult converts kept expectant vigil throughout Saturday night, were baptized early on Easter morning and then received their first Communion. The celebration of Easter has included the use of light—traditionally candles—to symbolize theophany and the triumph of Christ over darkness.
The practice of the vigil continues in liturgical church traditions, with the so-called Paschal Vigil capping the Easter triduum or three days of services. The service consists of Old Testament lessons mixed with psalms and prayers. More recently, the baptismal liturgy has been replaced by a renewal of baptismal vows. Easter Communion, or Eucharist is an important occasion in most church traditions, and for those who only rarely take Communion it is frequently viewed as obligatory.
In the Greek Orthodox Church, individuals greet one another on Easter with the words “Christ is risen,” to which they receive the response “he is risen indeed.” The Orthodox celebrate Saturday evening with a candlelight procession outside the church. On entering the church the pealing of bells marks the beginning of the Easter Morning Prayer, which is followed by the Eucharist.
In America, evangelical and other Protestant churches frequently hold Easter sunrise services in addition to their regular worship. These early-morning gatherings are usually held outdoors in a park setting. Larger ecumenical gatherings may be hosted by a local ministerial association and are held in open stadiums or other large outdoor gathering places. These services include the joyous singing of hymns celebrating the resurrection, the reading of the resurrection account from one of the gospels, prayers and preaching.
Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).