April 26, 2017
Did you know that in our church calendar, Easter actually lasts fifty days, from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday? These "Eastertide" weeks are celebrated as a single joyful feast. This year, it's April 16–June 4.
N.T. Wright, an Anglican theologian, once wrote this about Eastertide:
"We are Easter people! We stand on resurrection ground. Easter is not only our greatest party (much greater by the way than Christmas, whatever you do on Christmas you ought to do ten times as much at Easter); Easter is the only reason we are here at all!
We should meet regularly for Easter parties. We should drink champagne at breakfast. We should renew baptismal vows with splashing water all over the place. And we should sing and dance and blow trumpets and put out banners in the streets. And we should invite the homeless people to parties and we should go around town doing random acts of generosity and celebration. We should be doing things which would make our sober and serious neighbors say, 'What is the meaning of this outrageous party?'"
Photo: Dancing breaks out at our 6am Easter service.
Every Sunday in Eastertide, we hear the celebrant say, "Alleluia. Christ is risen!" and we reply, "The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!" The full fifty days of Easter give us time to fully experience the joy and meaning of Christ's resurrection—the only reason we're here, in the words of Wright. Below are some suggestions on how to receive the gifts of this season.
Yes, really. Take time off of work, school, or your regular responsibilities at home, and set aside a "Prayer Day" to meet with Lord and enjoy the life he has given you. (Read this awesome Prayer Day Guide, lest you think that a Prayer Day only involves staring at a Bible in silence for 12 hours.) Since this is Easter, consider how you might creatively take a whole day to celebrate with God. Need ideas? During your Prayer Day, you might do any of the following...
Spend time reading and contemplating the accounts of Jesus' return: Luke 24:1-12, 13-35, and John 20:1-18 are great places to start. For a fresh take how to pray imaginatively with these accounts, check out this sample week of prayer from our Transformation Intensive class. It will jumpstart your imagination. (Applications for Transformation Intensive are open now.)
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." After a long winter (especially here in Chicago!), there are few things more enlivening than taking a long walk in the flowering woods. As you marvel over impossibly pink crabapple trees or the sudden green bursting forth beneath your feet, receive the Lord's gifts of hope and joy through the tangibility of creation.
Photo: Easter flowers.
Easter is a season for feasting! Perhaps you can throw a delicious Eastertide dinner for a few of your friends, bake a cake to share with co-workers, or reach out and provide food for those who are struggling. Even if you aren't much of a cook, you can find small ways to delight (ice cream, anyone?).
During Holy Week and Easter, did you see anything beautiful? Did you realize something new or receive healing? Or do you still feel stuck, or sad? Wherever you are, step outside of your comfort zone, and share with someone. When we share our experiences of meeting the Lord, we encourage one another's faith, and when we share vulnerably about our struggles, we build trust and friendship with those who can love and help us.
At Rez, we love stories, and we love walking with people through their stories, no matter where they are on their journey. If you would like to share a celebration story with us, click here. If you would like to talk more with a pastor, you can request a meeting here. If sharing your story feels too scary right now, you can try writing your thoughts to God in your journal, or simply listen to others share their stories on Sunday mornings or at our Celebration Night (see #6!).
We have a special tradition in Eastertide called "Holy Week Celebration Night." On Wednesday, May 3, at 6:30pm we'll enjoy music, coffee, dessert, and most importantly, spend time listening to and telling stories about how we met the Lord and are being changed by him. Bring your story, a dessert to share, or just yourself—you will leave with joy.
Photo: Easter joy!
Sometimes our Holy Week experiences can leave us wondering: what's next? The Lord always has more for us. Sometimes, that next step can be as simple as committing to attend church on Sundays. At Resurrection, we're in the midst of an Easter sermon series with two parts: Why Jesus? and Why Church? We have services at 9am and 11am.
For those interested in going deeper, we also have several opportunities for growth beginning in the fall:
May Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path, and the blessings of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. (Book of Common Prayer)
April 06, 2017
Traditionally, the Stations of the Cross refer to images depicting the journey Jesus walked from his condemnation and sentencing at trial to the laying of his body in the tomb. The images are customarily displayed around the sanctuary of a church, and people are encouraged to visit the stations during Lent. At each station there are prayers, reflections, and scripture read. This journey is thought to have been adapted from the practice of very early pilgrims to Jerusalem at Easter who would follow Jesus’ path on the Via Dolorosa, which was thought to be the actual path Jesus took on his way to being crucified. The Stations of the Cross developed in order to provide this experience to pilgrims around the world, no matter where they might be. The fourteen stations begin with Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and end with his followers laying his body in the tomb.
At Church of the Resurrection, we take a journey around our building together at two different times on Good Friday. An officiant and a musician lead the service. Each station is marked by a plain wooden cross. At each station we read the passage of scripture associated with that moment on Jesus’ journey and take a moment to reflect with song and prayer. Our Stations of the Cross service was designed by Pope John Paul II.
Amidst the intensely corporate pilgrimage of Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross stand out as an opportunity for a uniquely individual encounter with the Lord. With a liturgy of only two voices, no homily, and a multitude of scripture readings, this service is crafted to be a private devotional experience. We are invited into a one-on-one encounter with Jesus as we walk alongside him on the road to his crucifixion.
As we contemplate each action that took place on Jesus’ journey to his death, we are invited to ponder the intentionality with which Jesus embraced his rescue mission. Each station takes Jesus deeper into betrayal, suffering, and death, thereby bringing us closer to the moment of our redemption. This paradox evokes an overwhelming love for our Savior as he suffers and stumbles, and it brings us hope amidst the darkness of human sin.
Join us for Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, 4/14, at 12:30pm or 2pm.
This is Part 3 of our Peek into Holy Week series. In the days leading up to Holy Week, we're taking time to prepare our hearts and minds so that we will be ready to hear the voice of the Lord. Read the next post about Good Friday here.