Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
You may have stored away your bunny decorations and that terrific new Easter dress. You may be done with Easter Sunday Services and Easter Egg hunts. But Easter isn’t over, a least not for millions of Christians throughout history and throughout the world today.
The Easter Season lasts for fifty days — from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. Every Sunday of the Season is treated as a Sunday OF Easter — which means that the entire season is celebrated as one long Feast! In Lent, those of us who fasted from anything, did so all 40 days of Lent, but broke our fast every Sunday IN Lent because every Sunday is a little Easter. And you don’t ever fast on Easter. But during the Easter Season, even the days of the week are feast days. All fifty of them!
The first 8 days of Easter (Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter) are days of special rejoicing called “The Octave of Easter”. But from then on, for liturgical churches it is still Easter. Lturgical churches take the entire Easter Season very seriously! And even many Presbyterians (a denomination not known for its liturgical piety) consider Easter to be a season in the church year — a seven week season.
This means that we sing Easter hymns not only on Easter Sunday itself but also on all the Sundays through Pentecost. And we cry out several times each week “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” (Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!) And the verse before the Gospel includes 3 Alleluias (beginning, middle, and end). For these seven Sundays, the Church wants you to remember that you are celebrating Easter for seven whole weeks. To help you remember, the altar cross will remain draped in white — as a way to snag your attention. Plus, the liturgical colors of the paraments and banners and pastors’ vestments will remain white and gold, signifying the victory that came to you through Christ’s victory over death: forgiveness of sin, victory over the darkness, and eternal life.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you are expected to host fifty consecutive Easter egg hunts or buy fifty new Easter dresses or eat fifty ham (or lamb) dinners in a row. Celebrating Easter Sunday for fifty days doesn’t mean duplicating Easter Sunday fifty times. It doesn’t even mean leaving the Easter decorations up until they get dusty (although you certainly may and I often have). Instead, celebrating Easter for seven whole weeks means you should take time, each day, to think deeply about the truth of Easter and its implications for our lives.
For example, what does it really mean to your life that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you today (Ephesians 1:15-23)? What does it mean to you how you live that the resurrection of Jesus is a precursor to your own (1 Corinthians 15)? What does it mean to how you will someday die?
The lessons for this, the Third Sunday OF Easter, include Acts 3:11-21 as the First Lesson. In this lesson, Peter preaches to the people who come running after Peter and John had healed a crippled beggar by Solomon’s Colonnade: “You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead.” The Second Lesson is 1 John 3:1-7. In this lesson, John writes, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us . that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” And the Gospel reading is Luke 24:36-49, the wonderful story in which the Risen Jesus appears to his disciples, tells them to handle him, asks them for something to eat, and “opens their minds” so they can understand that the entire Bible is about Him. Then He tells them to go and preach it to all nations, because they are His witnesses.
The Processional Hymn is the wonderful hymn “This Joyful Eastertide” The tune absolutely dances, and the lyrics are amazing. (And to view the YouTube videos of these hymns, click on the title of this blog and you will be taken to the website where you can view these videos to your heart’s delight — and sing along with them!)
The words are: 1) This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow! My love the Crucified, has sprung to life this morrow. Had Christ who once was slain not burst His three-day prison, our faith had been in vain. But now has Christ a-risen, a-risen. a-risen, a-ri- – – sen. 2) My flesh in hope shall rest and for a season slumber till trump from east to west shall wake the dead in number. Had Christ who once was slain not burst His three-day prison, our faith had been in vain. But now has Christ a-risen, a-risen. a-risen, a-ri- – – sen. 3) Death’s flood has lost its chill since Jesus crossed the river; Lover of Souls, from ill my passing soul deliver. Had Christ who once was slain not burst His three-day prison, our faith had been in vain. But now has Christ a-risen, a-risen. a-risen, a-ri- – – sen.
The Hymn of the Day is “The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done” another lively Easter hymn.
The Distribution Hymns for this Third Sunday of Easter is “Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks”
The Recessional Hymn is the wonderful “We Know that Christ is Raised and Dies No More“.
And I hope to worship with you this weekend. In the meantime, have a blessed Eastertide! Alleluia! Christ is Risen!