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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

E A S T E R , 2010 + ALLELUIA !!!

RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD | Vigil of Easter | April 1, 2010

First Reading: Genesis 1:1–2:4a
Response: Psalm 136:1-9, 23-36

Second Reading: Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13
Response: Psalm 46

Testing of Abraham
Third Reading: Genesis 22:1-18
Response: Psalm 16

Deliverance at the Red Sea
Fourth Reading: Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
Response: Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18

Salvation Freely Offered to All
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
Response: Isaiah 12:2-6

The Wisdom of God
Sixth Reading: Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 or Baruch 3:9-15, 32–4:4
Response: Psalm 19

A New Heart and a New Spirit
Seventh Reading: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Response: Psalm 42 and Psalm 43

Valley of the Dry Bones
Eighth Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Response: Psalm 143

Gathering of God's People
Ninth Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Response: Psalm 98
Call of Jonah
Tenth Reading: Jonah 1:1–2:1
Response: Jonah 2:2-3 [4-6] 7-9
Clothed in the Garments of Salvation
Eleventh Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11
Response: Deuteronomy 32:1-4, 7, 36a, 43a

Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace
Twelfth Reading: Daniel 3:1-29
Response: Song of the Three Young Men 35-65

New Testament Reading / Romans 6:3-11
Gospel / John 20:1-18

< Lexegete >

RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD | Easter Day | April 4, 1010

Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (Ps. 118:24)

1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43

Luke 24:1-12 or John 20:1-18

1. CONTEXT: Luke 24:1-12

Easter is, in its purest form, the celebration by the people of God
of the victory of God. Thus, by its very nature, Easter lends itself
to triumphalism and an almost overbearing sense of joy. And yet so
many Easter liturgies express little of the joy and even less of the
triumph, particularly when the occasion becomes a celebration
of l'sacre du printemps ala Stravinsky's Rite of Spring --though even
that secular flavoring might rouse the jaded masses to their feet!
If we tend to miss the mark at Easter, it is more often than not because
we have lost some crucial theological thread or link with its origins.
We need to remember, first of all, that Easter originates not in the early
Church's anxiety over its own survival in the Afterlife. Rather, it is born in the
New Passover, the paschal mystery that says: Christ is risen. Christ is risen
indeed. Hallelujah!!

This affirmation is not voiced as a theological argument, but as a stunning
declaration of faith, one which the early Christians found to be somehow
continuous with Jesus' own Jewish background. Hence they likely continued
to celebrate shabbat on Saturday, the seventh day, as well as the new Christian
celebration on the first day of the week, the Day of Resurrection. For them
Easter was not a yearly but a weekly celebration of God's victory in Christ's
Resurrection. Yet within a century the question began to be asked, shall we
also celebrate this victory on an annual basis?

The ensuing discussion went on for centuries until finally the Western church
accepted an Easter date based on the Roman Gregorian solar calendar. The
Eastern churches, on the other hand, adopted an Easter date based on the Julian
calendar. Perhaps someday we shall see these dates converging in some sort of
compromise, since there really are no compelling theological reasons why they
should differ.

Beyond the dating of Easter and its celebration each Sunday is the even
larger question of its significance for ordinary Christians. Although we are apt
to think of Advent/Christmas/Epiphany as the "Incarnational"
moment in the church year, Easter commingles our faith in the utterly
concrete, earthly surroundings with our spiritual hopes in their most
sublime,transcendent form. The result is a celebration, a moment and a season
every bit as "Incarnational" as Christmas itself. Perhaps this is where so many
Easter liturgies go awry, for we seem to pit the earthiness of Easter against its
heavenly aspect. One extreme is the highly theologized and intellectual
approach to Easter which attempts to explain or even rationalize the Empty
Tomb; the other extreme is the sentimental incantation of "Alleluias" as if we
ourselves had it within us to win the victory.
Luke,however, underscores the simplicity and Grace at the heart of Easter,
for his telling of the paschal story stresses human fallibility, weakness and
skepticism in contrast to the victory of God. The tone is intimate and touching:
he portrays the disciples as they were and no doubt as we ourselves would have
been in the context. When confronted with the startling news from "the women
(at least three are named) who had followed Jesus from Galilee," the eleven
men refused to believe such "nonsense" and likely ridiculed them.

Only Peter went to see for himself what they had reported. Thus the church's first
experience of Resurrection comes not in a stirring trumpet blast of theology,
but rather in the simple faith of simple women, the first witnesses to the Empty
Tomb. The church's Easter faith is born not in the martyrdom or militant
spirit of the disciples, but in their doubt and confusion. This,
surprisingly, is the context for Luke's story of the Easter good news. One
can hardly see the method or logic in the pericopes which appear in
various Lectionary patterns excluding Luke 24:11-12 from this passage. To do so
is to miss two of the essentials of the Resurrection story: a) the denial at first of the
Risen Lord by the apostles, contrasted with b) Peter’s dawning awareness of the
Empty tomb and its meaning for Christ’s followers.

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 24:1-12

Although this passage is in somewhat straightforward Greek, it nevertheless
contains several interesting word usages, a few of which are peculiar to Luke:
Lk. 24:1 - orthros batheos - very early in the morning, i.e. at dawn,
hence the notion of a sunrise liturgy; orthros is used only twice in the
New Testament.
Lk. 24:1 - aroma - literally, perfumed spices, perhaps myrrh among them.
Lk. 24:4 - aporeo - to be in a state of uncertainty or doubt, at a loss
Lk. 24: 4- astraptousei - a brilliant flash of blinding light
Lk. 24:5 - emphobon - filled with terror or fright
Lk. 24:5 - klinouson - to bow down or bend over
Lk. 24:11 - ephanesan - connotes the appearance of things, but not reality,
as if what the women saw was a sort of mirage, wishful thinking

Lk. 24:11 - leiros - often translated "idle talk," but with a stronger connotation
of lacking credibility or truth (unique to Luke in this single occurrence of the
word in the New Testament)
Lk. 24:11 - epistoun - implies a refusal to believe the women
Lk. 24:12 - [this verse is omitted in some ancient manuscripts; see Greek text
for citations] - anastas - this verb, describing Peter "rising up"
to run to the tomb echoes the anasteinai in vs. 7, although it may not be a
deliberate literary device on Luke's any rate, the term reminds us that,
from this Day forward, life is permeated not with Death but with Resurrection.
Lk. 24:12 - thaumazon - literally, wondering what had taken place, though
more with a sense of trying to understand than wide-eyed wonderment

3. STRATEGY: Luke 24:1-12 / The Vigil of Easter

The fullest expression of this Day sees it in its liturgical and not merely
theological context as the climax of the Triduum, the three days of
Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. These three are best viewed as a
liturgical three-in-one, a triune worship experience. Like the lengthy concerts
and films from which one is excused for an hour or more at a time to deal with
more mundane matters, these liturgies are continuous and connected. They
represent, sans any benediction or paschal blessing until the Easter service,
what Paul F. Bosch has called "the unbroken center of our whole year's work
and prayer" (Church Year Guide, p. 32).

Yet these are celebrations and not performances (though the two are not
always or in all places mutually exclusive). We need to be careful lest these
services become an occasion for wretched excess and ridiculous overstatement
when a simple reading of the Word will do nicely. Where the celebration of
either Holy Thursday or Good Friday has been truncated in some fashion (one
hears many reports of this in various churches), it is up to the presiding liturgists, pastors and others to engage in liturgical education.

The Vigil of Easter is an ideal service for introduction in parishes who may
have somehow numbed themselves to the power of the Easter Liturgy.
Excellent guidelines are found in the Book of Common Prayer (pp. 284- 295).
Others were found in the February, 1989, issue of Worship (Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4188),
written by liturgical expert S. Anita Stauffer, as well as in the Minister's Edition
of the LUTHERAN BOOK OF WORSHIP (1978), pp. 143-153. Lectionary
listings are also given in Peter C. Bower's HANDBOOK FOR THE COMMON
LECTIONARY (1987, pp. 221-4).

Still more notes on the Vigil are found in Gabe Huck's THE THREE
DAYS (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1981) and in A TRIDUUM
SOURCEBOOK, ed. G. Huck and Mary Ann Simcoe (Chicago: Liturgy
Training Publications, 1983). The Roman Catholic publisher, Pueblo, has
issued CELEBRATING THE EASTER VIGIL, edited by R. Berger and H.
Hollenweger, 1983. A new arrival (which we have not seen) is AN EASTER
SOURCEBOOK,ed. by Gabe Huck, Gail Ramshaw and Gordon Lathrop

(Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988). If it is anything like the earlier
sourcebooks from LTP, it will be well worth searching out!
All of these sourcebooks and guides stress the powerful imagery and action
of the Easter Vigil, which boldly contrasts life/death, light/darkness,
freedom/slavery. [For a discussion of the related theme of mystical
"abandonment" or Gelassnheit, see H.U. von Balthasar's provocative little
volume, LIFE OUT OF DEATH ] The Vigil begins in the darkness as a fire is
kindled. The BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER includes a beautiful
invocation, which sets the tone and expresses the meaning of the service that

"Dear friends in Christ, on this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus
passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death" [B.C.P., p. 285].

The latrer LBW Easter Vigil included no such introduction:, but entered immediately into the kindling of new fire. The Paschal candle is lighted from this new
fire and the Vigil continues with a Procession and sharing of the light from the
Paschal candle. After the Easter Proclamation is read, there is a liturgy of the
Word consisting of either four, seven or usually twelve scripture lessons, and
ending with a Baptismal service or renewal of Baptismal vows (see BOOK OF
COMMON PRAYER, p. 292f.) and a liturgy of the Eucharist. Although this
may sound as if it would be a rather lengthy service, it is probably no longer
than the traditional Christmas Eve Service, and has an entirely different texture
and atmosphere.

The parallels with Israel, the Exodus and the Passover are quite striking and the sense of this as "a night unlike all other nights" is implicit throughout the readings and prayers. Of course, if all the readings are used, it is prudent to abbreviate or even omit the homily.

Yet, even if there is no opportunity to conduct the full Vigil on Easter Eve, it is
still possible to suggest some of the symbolism of the service in other ways,
possibly through an Easter Sunrise, beginning outside in semi-darkness and
moving indoors to greet the dawning daylight. As for the actual central
message of the homily, if there is one, it is important to stress the special nature
of Easter discussed above, but in liturgical rather than somber theological
terms. Otherwise, the occasion is reduced to "Happy Spring" (a greeting which
appears more and more in our secular Hallmark Easter Cards) or becomes a ponderous lecture on the imponderable wonder of the Resurrection. Several key themes suggest themselves in the text, Luke 24:1-12. These include the overall theme
of God's victory in and through the Resurrection. Krister Stendahl, in a sermon
delivered years ago noted that "it is important that we avoid making
a challenge in the wrong way. For how can one celebrate Easter asc a problem,
a problem? And it would be deeply wrong to celebrate one's own beliefs. At
Easter, we celebrate God's victory in and through and with his child Jesus"

(In Season, April 10, 1977, p. 1).

Accenting this view of Easter as the "liberation of liberations," and not a
celebration of our own spiritual athletics, Stendahl goes on to speak of the gift
of Easter... that "grows, it dawns upon us when we are ready, in God's time"
(ibid., p. 3). Finally, he contrasts the devotion of the women to Jesus with the
almost callous depiction of the men as hard-headed, pragmatic churchmen.
The point is not to generalize about gender, but to emphasize that "it is in the
climate of that love rather than in the precision of our belief that faith grows."
These words are as powerful and inspiring when seen in the context of the
entire Easter liturgy, the entire Gospel.

For then we can recognize that Easter is not our show to perform, but
God's event, God's miracle which can experience even if we cannot fully
grasp it. It takes us into God's own grasp.

And we, too, are drawn to the wonder and mystery of the dark, silent empty
grave by our love for God's beloved Son. May this entire Easter Season be for you
and your congregation, for us all, a time of deeply authentic renewal and

4. Hymn Suggestions: Luke 14:1-12

As John Nieman noted in his exegesis for Matthew 28:1-10, there is an abundance of hymns available for this festival, but two are here suggested because they are not usually listed under the category of Easter Hymn. "At the Lamb's High Feast" (LBW #210,HB 174) contains references to the Sacrament and to Easter, and being set to a catchy old German folk tune, it is a pleasure to sing.

"Jesus Christ My Sure Defense" (LBW 340) catches the spirit of this text; it was once described as a "masterpiece of Christian poetry" and was part of a publication intended to bring unity between Lutheran and Reformed communions. And, of course, "Hail Thee, Festival Day" ( LBW 142, HB 175) and "Jesus Christ is ris'n today" (LBW 151, HB 207) are standard at Easter.

5. References: Luke 14:1-12

Bainton, Roland, ed. Martin Luther’s Easter Book. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press, 1983.

Huck,Gabe. The Three Days. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications,1981.
________, and Mary Ann Simcoe,eds. A Triduum Sourcebook. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1983.

________, Gail Ramshaw and Gordon Lathrop. An Easter Sourcebook. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988.

Lathrop, Gordon, and Gail Ramshaw,eds. LECTIONARY FOR THE CHRISTIAN PEOPLE, Cycle C, NY: Pueblo & Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

Stauffer, S. Anita. "The Vigil of Easter," in Worship '89 (February), Division for Congregational Life: ELCA, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago,IL 60631.

Stendahl, Krister, "The Celebration of God's Victory (Luke 24:1-11)" IN SEASON v.3, n. 31,ed. by Richard E. Koenig, April 10, 1977, pp. 1-4.

von Balthasar, Hans Urs. LIFE OUT OF DEATH: Meditations on the Easter Mystery. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985, pp. 19-24.

Exegete - David Buehler, Ph.D. | Providence College (RI)

© 2010 Tischrede Software | Dartmouth, Massachusetts


Greek Bible Text:

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001
by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2010 Tischrede Software | Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925


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