Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Kick-Off

Easter is technically not until tomorrow, but in some faith traditions, we just can’t wait and begin celebrating tonight! 

For example, at my church tonight we’re having a Passover Seder dinner together.  It is an annual tradition at our parish.  It is very popular.  Who doesn’t enjoy delicious food?  After our dinner, after the sun has gone down, we all go into the dark church with candles to begin the longest service we have all year.  The darkness is meant to represent the darkness of life without Christ and the emptiness of the tomb.  We’re going to read a lot of Scripture leading up to the climactic point when Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Christ, whom she initially mistakes for the gardener.  We’re going to sing a lot of joyous songs.  And we’re going to do some baptisms to welcome others to the Body of Christ.  It is going to be a party!

Easter is the reason we call ourselves “Christians.”  If the resurrection had not happened, then Jesus would just be a wise teacher.  But we Christians do believe he died an earthly death, yet rose again.  Death as we humans had previously understood it ceases to exist.  It is a temporary state.  Life does continue.

Many years ago, the country singer, Dolly Parton, recorded one of my favorite Easter songs.  It basically tells the story of Christ’s resurrection in a personal way from the perspective of the disciples.  The first link below is a clip of Ms. Parton performing the song at the CMA awards in 1989.  The second one has Ms. Parton’s vocal performance but with images to express the story told in the lyrics.  Enjoy!

Luke 24:13-35

And behold, on that same day, two of them were traveling to a village named Emmaus that was sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, and they were conversing with one another about all these things that had happened.  And it happened that while they were conversing, and discussing, Jesus himself also approached and began to go along with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are these matters that you are discussing with one another as you are walking along?” And they stood still, looking sad.  And one of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to him, “Are you the only one living near Jerusalem and not knowing the things that have happened in it in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?” So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, a man who was a prophet, powerful in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to a sentence of death, and crucified him.  But we were hoping that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. But in addition to all these things, this is the third day since these things took place.  But also some women from among us astonished us, who were at the tomb early in the morning,  and when they did not find his body, they came back saying they had seen even a vision of angels, who said that he was alive! 24 And some of those with us went out to the tomb and found it like this, just as the women had also said, but him they did not see.”  And he said to them, “O foolish and slow in heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures.  And they drew near to the village where they were going, and he acted as though he was going farther.  And they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is getting toward evening, and by this time the day is far spent.” And he went in to stay with them.  And it happened that when he reclined at the table with them, he took the bread and gave thanks, and after breaking it, he gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he became invisible to them.  And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”  And they got up that same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven and those with them assembled,  saying, “The Lord has really been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” And they began describing what happened on the road, and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

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