excerpt fromCOMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost
St. Peter Publications
Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, CanadaReprinted with permission of the publisher.
The Feast of the Resurrection (Easter Day) is quite rightly
known as the “Queen of Festivals”, for, today, we celebrate the event which
is the cornerstone of our Christian hope. “In fact,” writes St. Paul,
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have
fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also
the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in
Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15.20-22) And so after forty
days of preparation, of fasting, penitence, and prayer, we lay aside the
mourning with which we have been clothed, and don the bright robes of feasting.
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast.”
(I Cor. 5.7-8) The Lamb who without blemish or spot went to the Cross,
a sacrifice for our sin, has received the reward for his obedience, and
is risen, and we with him.
The Old Testament lessons we read for today tell us what this day is in
“type”; the Psalms what it is in prophecy; the Gospel what it is in history;
but the Epistle for this Sunday, what it is for us, as doctrine to be fulfilled
in ourselves, without which type, prophecy, and history, would not help
us at all.
Rise, heart, thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.
from Easter by George Herbert
As we read the lessons for this holy day, and those for the Easter season
which lies before us, let us, among other things, consider these: 1) The
reality of Jesus’ resurrection on that first Easter, shown in his appearances
over the forty days between Easter and Ascension Day; 2) Our spiritual
resurrection to newness of life made possible by Jesus’ resurrection, and;
3) the resurrection of our bodies on the Last Day, which is also a consequence
of his Rising.
These are but the main themes found in the readings for the Easter Season.
This Sunday is the beginning of a period of great importance in the Church
Year. Within the next fifty days we will also celebrate the related
Feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost. Therefore the Sunday and daily
office readings in this period display several other, though related, aspects.
The Old Testament lessons present events in the history of God’s ancient
people, the Jews, which stand as “types” of Christ’s triumph over our enemies,
sin and death. Thus we will read of the release of the Children of
Israel from Egyptian bondage, and of their progress towards the Promised
Land. Included also in the Old Testament lessons will be prophetic
types of the Resurrection. The New Testament readings will not only
reinforce in our minds the reality of Christ’s resurrection, but will also
remind us of the need of obedience in us, as we await the gift of the Holy
Ghost at Pentecost.
In all, we remember with thanksgiving the victory which is ours through
our Lord Jesus Christ, and await with joyful expectation the Great Day
when we shall see our risen Lord face to face.