Arise My Love
When I was growing up, Easter was basically a special family day where we dressed up in new Sunday clothes and went to church to show them off. Oh, we went to church every Sunday (twice), but Easter was special because everyone was all dressed up. I never understood why that was the case, because nothing was ever said or done differently on Easter Sunday than any other Sunday of the year... we certainly didn't have a special sermon on the resurrection. You see, not only did our church not follow the liturgical calendar, we acted as if there wasn't one. Easter and Christmas were like every other Sunday. In fact, I had a professor in school who suggested that we preach on the resurrection at Christmas and the birth of Jesus at Easter, just so no one got the idea that we believed in observing special days. It didn't dawn on me until much later that this setup a reverse holy day where you could stress the resurrection on any Sunday EXCEPT Easter. And that's kinda silly, I think.
I'm glad that while we are still wedded to scripture as our only authority, we do have the freedom to stress the birth and resurrection of Christ during those times of the year when people are most thinking about them. Bob Bean led us in a wonderful period of reflection at Yorktown Beach at Sunrise on Easter morning as he talked about the power of the resurrection for forgiveness as seen in the life of Peter. Eating breakfast together on Easter morning (and we had a great turnout) affirmed the relationships we enjoy because of our risen Lord. Singing songs of the resurrection, watching the video above and listening to Paul's message of our "Hope That Outlasts Forever" (from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), a hope rooted in the resurrection of Christ helped to focus us in a special way on the central message of that resurrection. I'm also glad that the kids can have an Easter Egg hunt together after church, but then we always free to focus on the part of Easter that stresses baskets and bunnies and Cadbury eggs. I'm glad that this season can also mean so much more
The danger, of course, is that we'll come to see the resurrection as seasonal. Face it, singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Silent Night" seem out of place any other time of the year except Christmas. The story of the birth of Jesus has come to be seasonal because of our Christmas traditions, but the message and meaning of the incarnation where "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" is too important to be seasonal. I hope our annual focus on Easter and special Easter traditions don't make songs like "Arise Mt Love" only seem appropriate during this time of the year. We need to stress every day the resurrection of Jesus, our resurrection from sin by Christ, and the resurrection power that lets us live new lives in Christ. That is much too important to save for just one Sunday each year.