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Easter, Reformed Worship

>Now That Easter is Over, Easter Has Begun

>Description: Berlin, Germany: Berliner Dom (Cathedral): Resurrection of Christ (right altar window) (Luce-floreo etched) (1905, designed by Anton Von Werner; reconstructed 1987-1997)Laurence H. Stookey has an intriguing chapter on Easter in his book Calendar, Christ’s Time for the Church. Chapter three is entitled, “Easter: The Great Fifty Days.” Stookey calls Easter an “ambiguous and unfortunate term.” Historically, the term has been used in two ways in the Church. Most common to the majority of our readers (I assume) is Easter as in Easter Sunday. Easter is one day. Some churches recognize Palm Sunday, some might have a service on Good Friday but, for the most part, Easter is seen as Easter Sunday and then it is over.

Churches who follow a Lectionary are accustomed to recognizing Easter beyond a single Sunday. For these churches Easter is “the period of eight Sundays, comprising fifty days, often called as a unit ‘the Great Fifty Days'” [Stookey, 53]. Most people think of Easter in the first sense but the second sense is more “ample and accurate.” Stookey writes, “the explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day.”Arguing for a fuller celebration of Easter he adds,

“The recovery of Easter as ‘the Great Fifty Days’ of the year can move the church along toward a fuller understanding of what the resurrection of the Lord implies. Easter is not one closing day at the end of a lengthy period of Lent. Easter is one extended rejoicing in the resurrection that more than exceeds in length the Lenten disciplines. The first day of the season, Easter Day, is the opening of a protracted celebration, even as the Resurrection is itself the opening to a vast new reality.”

This is a refreshing perspective for someone like myself who was brought up in your average revivalist, fundamentalist, Bible church tradition where Easter is over once Easter Day is complete. Those of you who come from a liturgical background may read a post like this and say, “Duh! Get with the program, silly free-churchers!” What can I say? Give us some time. Getting in touch with richer traditions such as “the Great Fifty Days” is very appealing for many of us who are looking to (re-)connect with many of the great traditional practices of those who have gone before us.

Time prevents from me from going into more detail of what a protracted Easter celebration looks like over a several week period so I will direct you to a few online resources:

The Great Fifty Days: Seven service plans from Easter to Ascension, page 1 of 2 by Victoria Cok, Reformed Worship magazine.

The Great Fifty Days: Seven service plans from Easter to Ascension, page 2 of 2 by Joanne Alberda, Reformed Worship magazine.

Journey into Assurance: Ideas for the Easter season based on 1 John by Nelle A. Vander Ark, Reformed Worship magazine.

The Great Fifty Days from The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

Other resources: link.

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “>Now That Easter is Over, Easter Has Begun

  1. >”I’m currently in that crazy Gospel class. So Jesus came to save the Jews and was rejected and got mad and is now cheating on Israel with the Church. I thought he came down “for us and our salvation.” Silly Ancient creeds…”I’m not going to mention names because there’s no need to make it personal but the particular class I had included 60-80 pages of pre-course required reading to give you an idea of where in the world the teachings of the course were coming from. If you didn’t have that Old Dispensationalism 101 reading assignment you’d be scratching your head all along the way. Poor Jesus. He intended to establish the kingdom right then and there. Take the throne and rule the earth. But the Jewish leaders thwarted His plans. They rejected Christ and His kingdom when they attributed the works of Christ to Satan. Oops. Now what was Jesus going to do? He scrambled and came up with Plan B. Phew, we Gentiles got lucky there. Because the Jews rejected Christ we got lucky and Christ was able to make atonement by mistake when He was crucified. I asked what would have happened regarding atonement and resurrection if the Jews had accepted Christ and His kingdom and I was told that He would have become King but He would have been crucified too. Hmm. I guess the Romans would have done this in order to defeat this new rival King and Christ would have allowed them to do it. Interesting stuff. I didn’t have a problem with them teaching this but the assignments were worded in such a way they I couldn’t answer in a way other than full agreement with their interpretations. Each time I broke with the party line I received personal phone calls to my home to see what was wrong with me and to tell me I needed to go along to get along (3 times). It was an interesting experience.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 26, 2008, 4:50 pm
  2. >”I’m currently in that crazy Gospel class.”They should do away with that class and make Bock’s “Exegesis of Gospel Narratives” mandatory.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | March 26, 2008, 3:38 pm
  3. >I’m currently in that crazy Gospel class. So Jesus came to save the Jews and was rejected and got mad and is now cheating on Israel with the Church. I thought he came down “for us and our salvation.” Silly Ancient creeds…

    Posted by Jared Nelson | March 26, 2008, 3:09 pm
  4. >Is anyone out there a member of a church that recognizes the Easter season beyond Easter Sunday? I’d like to hear about your experiences with that.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 26, 2008, 1:46 pm
  5. >”Do you know if any of that event will be recorded on audio or video and made available?”I’m sure. It might cost as much as that airline ticket though. 😉 A friend of mine is going to it so I’ll see if he can grab some info.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 26, 2008, 12:38 pm
  6. >Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it, as even the cheap airlines wanted to charge me over $500 for a ticket. I’m really bummed about that. Do you know if any of that event will be recorded on audio or video and made available?

    Posted by Dwight | March 26, 2008, 4:06 am
  7. >Dwight, are you coming to Dallas for that missional conference? Shoot me an email when you get a chance.”Anywho, I just purchased Stookey’s book used on Amazon for $6. I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth out of it.”Nice. If you don’t like then I’ll just blame the professor who assigned it to us.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 25, 2008, 8:23 pm
  8. >My experience has been very similar to yours Jeff. I’ve had an interest in the church calendar for several years now, since I got out to Vegas really. Anywho, I just purchased Stookey’s book used on Amazon for $6. I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth out of it.

    Posted by Dwight | March 25, 2008, 8:10 pm
  9. >”What a paradox; I have seen so many people grow into solid Reformed traditions (including myself) while attending Dallas Seminary, the beacon of Dispensational theology for over half a century. Who’d a thunk it!?”It does crack me up. Some key assignments come to mind. An exegetical paper on Ephesians 2:11-22, an exegetical on Rom. 11:17-24, and a theological paper on the rapture. None of my conclusions came out the way the school probably would have preferred but they were very helpful for me. I won’t even get into the crazy Gospels class I had where I kept getting into trouble for resisting the classic Dispensational answers they wanted me to regurgitate! ;)I know Jay has some interesting stories regarding his beliefs and the exit interview with the school.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 25, 2008, 6:54 pm
  10. >Hey, co_heir! Good to hear from you. “This is the first I’ve heard of a longer celebration of Easter.”Yup. Its a very interesting, uncomfortable, and rewarding experience to watch your previous ideas of “Christianity” grow very small as you continue to learn and grow and gain more perspective. I’ve often reflected on how I projected the local church experience of my childhood onto what I thought the entirety of Christianity was. Its like thinking that your hometown is the world and then coming to the realization that your town isn’t the world but just one town in your county in your state in your country in the world. I’m exaggerating the experience, of course, but its sort of like that.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | March 25, 2008, 6:41 pm
  11. >I came from the same background as you. This is the first I’ve heard of a longer celebration of Easter. Thanks for the info and the links.

    Posted by co_heir | March 25, 2008, 6:30 pm
  12. >Man! You’ve come a long way from the old-line Dispensationalist I met five years ago! What a paradox; I have seen so many people grow into solid Reformed traditions (including myself) while attending Dallas Seminary, the beacon of Dispensational theology for over half a century. Who’d a thunk it!?

    Posted by Mark Mathews | March 25, 2008, 5:31 pm

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