October 18, 2017

Sundays in Easter: Not What You Might Expect

Come and Dine, Jeremy Sams

Come and Dine, Jeremy Sams

Not What You Might Expect
A Series for Sundays in Eastertide

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

– Ephesians 1:20-23, NRSV

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
now is the victor’s triumph won!
Now be the song of praise begun.
Alleluia!

Symphonia Sirenum Selectarum, tr. Potts

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On Easter Sunday, we sing glad songs of victory. Martial images fill our hymns and the texts we read. Christ has triumphed! The enemy has been conquered! God has displayed his mighty power! Heaven and earth has been shaken! The powers of sin, death, and hell have been cast down and destroyed! Let the trumpets resound! Let choir and congregation shout alleluia! Christ has been declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead and is Lord of all (Romans 1:4)!

And yet the stories of Easter and the appearances of the risen Christ are so quiet. So behind the scenes. So personal. So hidden. So subtle. So unspectacular. So unlike anything that looks or might be construed as a powerful, earth-shaking “victory” over the great powers of the cosmos.

It is an empty place in early morning darkness.

It is a man speaking a woman’s name in a garden.

It is a stranger drawing near as two men walk along a road.

It is a guest at table eating a piece of fish.

It is person who stands on a mountain while those who see him both worship and doubt.

It is an onlooker at the beach who cooks breakfast and invites others to join him.

It is a friend who speaks, listens, and forgives.

We celebrate Easter with loud, triumphant songs, bright colors, and festive liturgies because its ultimate meaning has become clear to us through the testimony of Scripture and the creedal confession of the Church. However, on that first Easter and throughout the subsequent fifty days, this meaning was not at all clear, an obvious truth that could be grasped immediately. The original Eastertide was a quiet, rather ambiguous season in which Jesus made himself known as the risen Lord in unexpectedly restrained and unassuming ways.

What can we learn from this?

We will talk about several of these post-resurrection accounts on Sundays during this Eastertide season and try to discover some answers to that question. What are your first thoughts?

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Artwork Link: Jeremy Sams Art and Murals

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    “The original Eastertide was a quiet, rather ambiguous season in which Jesus made himself known as risen Lord in unexpectedly restrained and unassuming ways.” Like this Sunday morning, like the long season of so many days that stretches from today back to that first Sunday of his Resurrection; so quiet, so ambiguous, how often we have, how often I have, wished for the sky to be rolled back, for his power to be unveiled across the very face of existence, loudly, magisterially, undeniably, royally. Instead, there are these quiet, ambiguous mornings and days, days in which we, I, listen for a whisper of his presence amid the fear and dreariness and tiredness and nothingness of everything. Even so, we pray, come, Lord Jesus.

    And yet he tarries, and we wait and listen past all patience and, sometimes, all hope.

  2. JoanieD says:

    I LOVE the post-resurrection stories: the couple walking home and meeting up with and talking with Jesus; Jesus feeding fish to the disciples on the beach; Jesus appearing through locked doors; Jesus talking with Mary Magdalene; Paul’s encounter with Jesus. I also wonder about them too. I wonder WHY they did not recognize him on the beach; in what way did his physical appearance change? I know he showed Thomas the holes in his hands and feet so those were still there at one time anyway. I also find it odd that one Gospel story has him ascending on Easter evening and at least one Gospel story has him hanging around for 40 days or so.

  3. The apostles react exactly the way any of us would react under the same circumstances. They know something had happened, but they don’t know precisely what.

    Thomas is perfectly rational when he refuses to believe the accounts of his brethren. I’m every bit as reluctant to accept that the stories related in this book have anything more than a logical, physical explanation of what happens when the brain is in an extreme state.

    A ghost, an impostor, a hallucination, a case of mistaken identity – I can’t blame the apostles for not realising what happened when I am so reluctant myself to act in my own life as if the belief I claim to hold is true.

  4. In John 21: None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

    This is a strange verse. If he looked much like he did before, John would not have written that. So he must have looked different in some way. Add to this the Lord’s new habit of appearing and disappearing, and it would have been a strange time for the disciples. But they might have been wary of telling all their friends, just in case he doesn’t turn up again.

    Just when you thought the story was over…