Wednesday, March 27, 2002

EASTER DAY - thoughts to help in its right celebration for those who use the classic BCP.

The rigors of Lent are over. The fasting and abstinence is ended. There is great cause for celebration and rejoicing with exceeding great joy! Away with all desires for self- affirmation and feeling good. Let us be looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, hope and love.

The festival day of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was called PASCHA in the ancient church and is a word that is related to the Hebrew "Passover." PASCHA is still used in the Orthodox Churches and is being used increasingly in the West.

The English word, "Easter," has nothing to do with facing East! Rather it is Anglo-Saxon in origin and according to St Bede is borrowed from the name of a festival honouring the goddess of Spring, Eostre, at the vernal equinox.

Easter is held on the first Sunday after the full moon, on or next after March 21.

The Pasch or Easter is the Feast of feasts and the Festival of festivals because it is the announcement and proclamation of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead. The raising of Jesus from the dead by the Father almighty on the third day represents: (a) divine victory on his Cross at Calvary over darkness, evil, sin, death and the devil and (b) acceptance by God the Father of a perfect atonement and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and (c) promise of full redemption, reconciliation and salvation for all those who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism, by faith, in the Holy Ghost.

The Easter Anthems, the Collect, the Epistle and the Gospel for Easter Day in the BCP (1662) all point to the saving message of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The EASTER ANTHEMS (replacing the Venite for Easter week) are all biblical verses which declare the fact and meaning of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The COLLECT celebrates the fact that by the death and resurrection of Jesus there is opened to believers eternal and abundant life; it then makes the connection between this gift of everlasting through the resurrection and the living of a life that is pleasing to God, fruitful in holy desires and good works.

The EPISTLE from Colossians 3:1-7 is an exhortation to live as those who truly believe not only that Jesus Christ has been exalted to the Father's right hand in heaven but that those who are united to him by faith have also been exalted together with him. Holiness and righteousness of life flow from union with the Lord Jesus who has conquered sin and evil and is raised to the highest heaven as the Lord of lords.

THE GOSPEL from John 20:1-10 tells how Mary Magdalene visited the tomb of Jesus only to find that the stone across its entrance had been moved. She hastened to tell Peter and John. They ran to see for themselves and entering the tomb found to their amazement that it was empty. So the empty tomb becomes the first sign that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Naturally Christians who hear the story so far want to know what happened next and of they read on in John's Gospel. They find out that Jesus actually appeared to Mary, spoke to her and made her -- a woman and a woman with a certain reputation -- into the first witness of the Resurrection! Thus she can go and tell the disciples, "I have seen the Lord!"

So it is a woman not a man, a disciple and not an apostle, who is chosen by God to be first in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the Resurrected Master and Saviour. (See Luke 24:1-12 for more details of the role of woman as witnesses of the Resurrection.)


The Revd Dr Peter Toon Holy Week 2002

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