From the Rector’s Desk
Alleluia! Christ is risen! he Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Blessings to all from Trinity Episcopal Church:
This past Sunday we celebrated Easter. A great celebration of God’s victory over death and a glorious reminder we belong to the God of Love. Our service was overflowing with music, flowers, smiles, and the ringing of bells! In thanksgiving and joyful renewal, we celebrated the good news of the resurrected Lord! And even in the middle of all the current troubles impacting our communities and world, our faith reminded us once again how God is still making all things new, creating life out of places shrouded in death.
According to the Episcopal Church website, Easter is the annual feast of the resurrection, the Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Easter sets the experience of springtime next to the ancient stories of deliverance and the proclamation of the risen Christ.
In the Church Year, this is quite literally fifty days of feasting. After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty days on earth before he ascended, and then there were ten more days after that before the Day of Pentecost. Luke writes in the first chapter of Acts that Jesus “presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
In Acts chapter two, we find the followers of Jesus gathered for the Day of Pentecost, which means “fifty.” This happened during the Hebrew feast of Shavuot, which is why the followers of Jesus were gathering. The Hebrew festival was originally a harvest first fruits celebration, and later evolved into a commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
So, the Great Fifty Days are a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and all that means for us, leading to the launching of the Christian Church and its mission on Pentecost. (stay tuned for more exciting news about Pentecost).
Since Easter is not just one day, but a season, there are practices the church does to mark this time as a special time of celebration:
- The Paschal candle is lighted during all services.
- The Easter acclimation is used at Eucharist and at the daily offices.
- “Alleluia, alleluia” is added to the dismissal at Eucharist celebrations and the daily offices; fraction anthems including Alleluias are chosen, as are hymns with multiple Alleluias.
- The Confession of sin may be omitted entirely during the 50 days.
- Some churches follow the prohibition made during the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century that prohibited kneeling during the great 50 days, whether during the Eucharistic prayer or when receiving communion at the altar.
- A lesson from the Acts of the Apostles is appointed for every day during the Great 50 Days, and is used as the first reading on Sunday, in place of the Old Testament lesson.
- Since the entire season is a celebration, the vestments and altar colors are white.
In addition, the Lectionary readings during the following Sundays of Easter explore the post-resurrection appearances of Christ, and the promise of a future resurrection. We go back to a closed room in which Jesus suddenly appears…but Thomas isn’t there. He doubts. Jesus later appears to him, and Thomas famously proclaims, “My Lord, and My God.”
The following week we will have breakfast with Jesus and Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times and, after the Resurrection, had returned to fishing. Jesus restores him and gives him a mission: “Feed my Sheep” and “Follow me.” Later, we will revisit Jesus’ teaching on himself and his mission as well. He is preparing his disciples, and us, to take the power of his Resurrection to the world. Finally, we will arrive on Ascension Day, which falls on the 40th day and always on a Thursday. However, we will celebrate Ascension the following Sunday, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, where we will listen to Jesus’ teaching on the Great Commission, our true Mission Statement.
My friends, I look forward to celebrating this glorious season with you!
May the glory and the promise of this joyous time of year bring peace and happiness to you and those you hold most dear. And may Christ, Our Risen Savior, always be there by your side to bless you most abundantly and be your loving guide. — Author Unknown
God’s abundant love and Peace,