Category : Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Eleanor Parker–‘With springing tears to the spring of mercy’: Anselm’s Prayer to Mary Magdalene for Easter

But you, most holy Lord, why do you ask her why she weeps? Surely you can see; her heart, the dear life of her soul, is cruelly slain. O love to be wondered at; O evil to be shuddered at; you hung on the wood, pierced by iron nails, stretched out like a thief for the mockery of wicked men; and yet, “Woman,” you say, “why are you weeping?” She had not been able to prevent them from killing you, but at least she longed to keep your body for a while with ointments lest it decay. No longer able to speak with you living, at least she could mourn for you dead. So, near to death and hating her own life, she repeats in broken tones the words of life which she had heard from the living. And now, besides all this, even the body which she was glad, in a way, to have kept, she believes to have gone. And can you ask her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Had she not reason to weep? For she had seen with her own eyes — if she could bear to look — what cruel men cruelly did to you; and now all that was left of you from their hands she thinks she has lost. All hope of you has fled, for now she has not even your lifeless body to remind her of you. And someone asks, “Who are you looking for? Why are you weeping?” You, her sole joy, should be the last thus to increase her sorrow. But you know it all well, and thus you wish it to be, for only in such broken words and sighs can she convey a cause of grief as great as hers. The love you have inspired you do not ignore. And indeed you know her well, the gardener, who planted her soul in his garden. What you plant, I think you also water. Do you water, I wonder, or do you test her? In fact, you are both watering and putting to the test.

But now, good Lord, gentle Master, look upon your faithful servant and disciple, so lately redeemed by your blood, and see how she burns with anxiety, desiring you, searching all round, questioning, and what she longs for is nowhere found. Nothing she sees can satisfy her, since you whom alone she would behold, she sees not. What then? How long will my Lord leave his beloved to suffer thus? Have you put off compassion now you have put on incorruption? Did you let go of goodness when you laid hold of immortality? Let it not be so, Lord. You will not despise us mortals now you have made yourself immortal, for you made yourself a mortal in order to give us immortality.

And so it is; for love’s sake he cannot bear her grief for long or go on hiding himself. For the sweetness of love he shows himself who would not for the bitterness of tears. The Lord calls his servant by the name she has often heard and the servant knows the voice of her own Lord. I think, or rather I am sure, that she responded to the gentle tone with which he was accustomed to call, “Mary.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Easter, Theology: Scripture

Tim Drake: Easter Evidence

“The compelling evidence for me is the unanimous testimony of all the apostles and even a former persecutor like St. Paul,” said Brant Pitre, assistant professor of theology at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. “There was no debate in the first century over whether Jesus was resurrected or not.”

Scholars say that the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection are compelling for a variety of reasons.

“People will seldom die even for what they know to be true. Twelve men don’t give up their lives for a lie,” said Ray, who recently returned from France, where he was filming his “Footprints of God” series at the amphitheater in Lyon, the site of a persecution in A.D. 177. “The martyrs of Lyon underwent two days of torture and all they would say is, ‘I am a Christian.’ They knew the resurrection was true and didn’t question it.”

Barber also highlighted the diversity of sources and how they include different details as well as passages that do not paint the disciples in the best light.

“In the Road to Emmaus story, they write that they didn’t recognize him,” said Barber. “Our Biblical accounts are our best evidence.”

Several of the scholars pointed to 1 Corinthians, where Paul states that Christ appeared to 500 people.

“Some want to shy away from the Gospels because they say they were written later,” explained Barber. “If you want to believe that they were written later, then why wouldn’t the Gospels have made use of this piece of evidence from 1 Corinthians?” asked Barber.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Easter, Theology

More Music for Easter 2022–This joyful Eastertide

Listen to the whole glorious thing.

Lyrics:

1.This joyful Eastertide
away with sin and sorrow!
My love, the Crucified,
has sprung to life this morrow.

Refrain:
Had Christ, who once was slain,
not burst his three-day prison,
our faith had been in vain:
but now hath Christ arisen,
arisen, arisen;
but now has Christ arisen!

2. My flesh in hope shall rest
and for a season slumber
till trump from east to west
shall wake the dead in number. [

3. Death’s flood has lost its chill
since Jesus crossed the river.
Lover of souls, from ill
my passing soul deliver.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for Today from John R W Stott

Lord Jesus, risen from the dead and alive for evermore: Stand in our midst tonight as in the upper room; show us thy hands and thy side; speak thy peace to our hearts and minds; and send us forth into the world as thy witnesses; for the glory of thy name.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

An Easter Carol

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.

While the patient earth lies waking,
Till the morning shall be breaking,
Shuddering ‘neath the burden dread
Of her Master, cold and dead,
Hark! she hears the angels say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.
And when sunrise smites the mountains,
Pouring light from heavenly fountains,
Then the earth blooms out to greet
Once again the blessed feet;
And her countless voices say,
Christ has risen on Easter-Day.

Up and down our lives obedient
Walk, dear Christ, with footsteps radiant,
Till those garden lives shall be
Fair with duties done for Thee;
And our thankful spirits say,
Christ arose on Easter-Day.

–Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Posted in Church History, Easter, Music, Poetry & Literature

More Music for Easter–Christus resurgens – William Byrd, John Rutter, The Cambridge Singers

Listen to it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Tom Wright–The Church must stop trivialising Easter

Jesus of Nazareth was certainly dead by the Friday evening; Roman soldiers were professional killers and wouldn’t have allowed a not-quite-dead rebel leader to stay that way for long. When the first Christians told the story of what happened next, they were not saying: “I think he’s still with us in a spiritual sense” or “I think he’s gone to heaven”. All these have been suggested by people who have lost their historical and theological nerve.

The historian must explain why Christianity got going in the first place, why it hailed Jesus as Messiah despite His execution (He hadn’t defeated the pagans, or rebuilt the Temple, or brought justice and peace to the world, all of which a Messiah should have done), and why the early Christian movement took the shape that it did. The only explanation that will fit the evidence is the one the early Christians insisted upon – He really had been raised from the dead. His body was not just reanimated. It was transformed, so that it was no longer subject to sickness and death.

Let’s be clear: the stories are not about someone coming back into the present mode of life. They are about someone going on into a new sort of existence, still emphatically bodily, if anything, more so. When St Paul speaks of a “spiritual” resurrection body, he doesn’t mean “non-material”, like a ghost. “Spiritual” is the sort of Greek word that tells you,not what something is made of, but what is animating it. The risen Jesus had a physical body animated by God’s life-giving Spirit. Yes, says St Paul, that same Spirit is at work in us, and will have the same effect – and in the whole world.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Theology

A Prayer for Today from Frank Colquhoun

O Lord God of our fathers, who didst of old deliver thy people from the prison-house of Egypt through the paschal sacrifice: Mercifully grant that we thy new Israel, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, may be set free from the bondage of evil and serve thee henceforth in the joy and power of the resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who ever liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

A Pastoral Letter To The Clergy And People Of The Anglican Diocese Of South Carolina

From there:

Wednesday after Easter Day,
20 April 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, the Supreme Court of South Carolina published their opinion on the matter of our legal dispute with the Episcopal Church over property owned by parishes, the diocese, and the Trustees of the diocese. The court affirmed Judge Dickson’s ruling for some parishes and reversed his findings for others.

The ruling raises many issues that will have to play out in the coming weeks before any actions are taken, so our first response must be to quiet our hearts before the Lord as we pray for grace to meet the days ahead. Some of our churches are relieved that the court ruled their property does indeed belong to them. Some are grieving deeply, as the courts ruling went the opposite direction. If we take seriously St Paul’s admonition to rejoice with those who rejoice while we weep with those who weep (Romans 12.15), we will find this to be a season marked by both, regardless of how it affects us personally. So, lift each other up in prayer as we enter the complex emotions of these days.

Finally, I urge you to remember that when Jesus, early in his earthly ministry, first entrusted the mission of the gospel to his disciples he sent them out with, “…nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money… not even a change of clothes!” (Luke 9.3) We must remember that while we have enjoyed the benefits of rich resources for gospel ministry, none are actually required. The Lord has provided—and always will provide—all we need to proclaim the gospel, bind up the brokenhearted, heal the sick, set the captives free, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God. The ministry of this diocese to a confused and broken world is dependent on God’s mercy and call, not on our property and resources.

I ask your prayers for those of us who are called to lead as we sort through the difficult decisions of the days ahead.

Blessings,

The Rt Revd Chip Edgar, The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Easter, Law & Legal Issues

(Reuters) In pictures: Easter 2022 celebrations around the world

There are 25 in all.

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

At the Center

Without a doubt, at the center of the New Testament there stands the Cross, which receives its interpretation from the Resurrection.

The Passion narratives are the first pieces of the Gospels that were composed as a unity. In his preaching at Corinth, Paul initially wants to know nothing but the Cross, which “destroys the wisdom of the wise and wrecks the understanding of those who understand”, which “is a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles”. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor 1:19, 23, 25).

Whoever removes the Cross and its interpretation by the New Testament from the center, in order to replace it, for example, with the social commitment of Jesus to the oppressed as a new center, no longer stands in continuity with the apostolic faith.

–Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), A Short Primer For Unsettled Laymen

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

More Music For Easter–Since By Man Came Death from Handel’s Messiah

Take the time to listen to it all from the Oxford Philomusica.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Peter Kreeft–Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

We believe Christ’s resurrection can be proved with at least as much certainty as any universally believed and well-documented event in ancient history. To prove this, we do not need to presuppose anything controversial (e.g. that miracles happen). But the skeptic must also not presuppose anything (e.g. that they do not). We do not need to presuppose that the New Testament is infallible, or divinely inspired or even true. We do not need to presuppose that there really was an empty tomb or post-resurrection appearances, as recorded. We need to presuppose only two things, both of which are hard data, empirical data, which no one denies: The existence of the New Testament texts as we have them, and the existence (but not necessarily the truth) of the Christian religion as we find it today.

The question is this: Which theory about what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday can account for the data?

There are five possible theories: Christianity, hallucination, myth, conspiracy and swoon.

1. Jesus died. Jesus rose. [ Christianity ]

2. Jesus died. Jesus didn’t rise—apostles deceived. [Hallucination]

3. Jesus died. Jesus didn’t rise—apostles myth-makers [ Myth ]

4. Jesus died. Jesus didn’t rise—apostles deceivers [ Conspiracy ]

5. Jesus didn’t die. [ Swoon ]

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Easter, Theology

A Prayer for Today from the Gregorian Sacramentary

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of the enemy: Grant us to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Bono for Easter–The Day Death Died

Take the time to watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Marriage & Family

R S Thomas “The Answer” for Easter

From there:

Not darkness but twilight
In which even the best
of minds must make its way
now. And slowly the questions
occur, vague but formidable
for all that. We pass our hands
over their surface like blind
men feeling for the mechanism
that will swing them aside. They
yield, but only to re-form
as new problems; and one
does not even do that
but towers immovable
before us.

Is there no way
of other thought of answering
its challenge? There is an anticipation
of it to the point of
dying. There have been times
when, after long on my knees
in a cold chancel, a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
graveclothes of love’s risen body.

Posted in Easter, Poetry & Literature

JRR Tolkien for Easter–Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?

Sam believes that Gandalf has fallen a catastrophic distance and has died. But in the end of the story, with Sam having been asleep for a long while and then beginning to regain consciousness, Gandalf stands before Sam, robed in white, his face glistening in the sunlight, and says:

“Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?”

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

“A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from bed… “How do I feel?” he cried.” Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel” –he waved his arms in the air– “I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!”

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), The Return of the King

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Poetry & Literature, Theology

The Archbishop of York’s 2022 Easter Day sermon

In this exile for the past two years and in this fast, everything that challenges our world and everything that we depended on to sustain our Christian life was suspended, but Christ remained. His love endured.

There we were, on our own, cut off in the upper rooms of our homes and unable to go to church, and Christ found us.

I see this in Craigie Aitchison’s images of the isolated Christ, who comes to us in our isolation, showing us that we don’t actually need anything else, and that in the end all the things we enjoy – material blessings, other people, the worship and comfort of the church, the sacraments themselves – all of them will cease.

Or to put it another way; He is Risen. This is the great Easter hope. In his dying and rising, we find our identity as those who are redeemed and restored by Christ. We find ourselves within the life of the God who now bears the scars of passion.

Or rather, Christ finds us. He comes to us, as he came to Mary Magdalene, and he asks why we’re crying and who we’re looking for.

He has returned to take us with him. Like Mary and like Elizabeth who will be baptised in just a moment, He know us by name. He shows us what really matters.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Holy Week

Easter by George Herbert

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Poetry & Literature

Music for Easter–The Lord is Risen Indeed! William Billings

Listen to it all and you can read more about it, including finding the lyrics, at Lent and Beyond.

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for Today from the Gothic Missal

O Almighty God, hear thy people who are met this day to celebrate the glorious resurrection of thy Son our Lord; and lead them on from this festival to eternal gladness, to the joys that have no end; through the same our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Gerard Manley Hopkins for Easter–Gather gladness from the skies

Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter’s robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe.
Chaplets for disheveled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth let your souls alway
Make each morn an Easter Day.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Easter, Poetry & Literature

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that pierced died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not paper-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike (1932-2009)

Posted in Holy Week, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Easter

“Without Easter, Good Friday would have no meaning. Without Easter, there would be no hope that suffering and abandonment might be tolerable. But with Easter, a way out becomes visible for human sorrows, an absolute future: more than a hope, a divine expectation.”

–Hans Urs von Balthasar To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), p.39

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon 2022

But the Easter message is that what we cannot do has been brought into the world by God.

For Christ Jesus is alive with the life of the world to come. A life where every tear is wiped away, every injustice righted, every evil exposed and judged and banished. And through Jesus a new future is set for the whole world. The resurrection promises each nation, and every victim and survivor, that the injustices, cruelties, evil deeds and soulless institutions of this world do not have the last word.

Not only his blood stained grave clothes are left behind in the tomb but all of our grave clothes.

This is what we proclaim at Easter. It is a season of life and hope, of repentance and renewal. This week in the Eastern Orthodox world it is Holy Week, the greatest time for repentance. Muslims are in Ramadan, a time for purification and change, coming to Eid. Jews celebrate the Passover and liberation. Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks. This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail! Let the darkness of war be banished.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

Music for Easter 2022–Jesus Christ is Risen Today

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for Today from William Bright

O Lord, who by triumphing over the power of darkness, didst Prepare our place in the New Jerusalem: Grant us, who have [in this season] given thanks for thy resurrection, to praise thee in that city whereof thou art the light; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, world without end.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Poetry for Easter–Resurrection by RS Thomas

Posted in Easter, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Easter from the ACNA Prayerbook

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may, by your life-giving Spirit, be delivered from sin and raised from death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Tim Keller on the Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection was as inconceivable for the first disciples, as impossible for them to believe, as it is for many of us today. Granted, their reasons would have been different from ours. The Greeks did not believe in resurrection; in the Greek worldview, the afterlife was liberation of the soul from the body. For them, resurrection would never be part of life after death. As for the Jews, some of them believed in a future general resurrection when the entire world would be renewed, but they had no concept of an individual rising from the dead. The people of Jesus’ day were not predisposed to believe in resurrection any more than we are.

Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., was highly antagonistic to Christianity and wrote a number of works listing arguments against it. One of the arguments he believed most telling went like this: Christianity can’t be true, because the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women””and we all know women are hysterical. And many of Celsus’ readers agreed: For them, that was a major problem. In ancient societies, as you know, women were marginalized, and the testimony of women was never given much credence.

Do you see what that means? If Mark and the Christians were making up these stories to get their movement off the ground, they would never have written women into the story as the first eyewitnesses to Jesus’ empty tomb. The only possible reason for the presence of women in these accounts is that they really were present and reported what they saw. The stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty and an angel declares that Jesus is risen.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Theology