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Easter Day

excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted 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. 
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 calcined thee to dust, 
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just. 
                                               from Easter by George Herbert 
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. 

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.