This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow!
My love, the Crucified, has sprung to life this morrow.
Had Christ, who once was slain, not burst his three-day prison,
Our faith had been in vain. But now has Christ arisen.
ELW 391, vs 1
In 1894, an Anglican priest and church musician George R. Woodward beautifully captured the spirit of the season of Easter in his hymn, “This Joyful Eastertide.” After all, the festival of Easter, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, is more than a one day event. The joy of Easter is spread across 50 days until next church festival of Pentecost. It is interesting to note that Woodward left two equally sprightly Christmas carols, “Ding-Dong, Merrily on High” and “Past Three O’Clock.” All three of Woodward’s songs remind us that the life we have been called to experience in Christ is not a dour, sad funeral dirge, but rather, we have been invited to experience an uplifting melody of rhythm and movement.
According to St. Luke’s gospel, Jesus appeared for 40 days after his resurrection of the dead. Together with St. John’s gospel we read stories of Jesus being seen over and over again, eating meals with his disciples, walking with them on deserted roads and teaching them about the meaning of his life and death. On one occasion, Jesus returns to the Sea of Galilee to see his disciples return to their former vocations. As much as they recognized the miraculous nature of Jesus’ rising from the dead, they couldn’t quite imagine what this would mean for their lives and their futures. Perhaps, you can’t make that connection either.
Martin Luther once said, “It really doesn’t matter if Jesus rose from the dead if He isn’t risen in you!” That is what we are to discover in this “joyous Eastertide.” It was what Jesus’s followers experienced as they were being transformed from disciples into apostles- the one who are sent. That is what we meditate on in our Easter music, lessons and worship. We are trying to capture the energy of the resurrection within each one of us.
There are of course, many other ways in which we can experience the miracle of Easter. Luther himself stated, that, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” It is the miracle that we celebrate in “the breaking of the bread” and in the sharing of the peace. But principally, we experience the wonder and joy of Jesus’ resurrection in the words of Scripture. For it is Scripture we are assured that the resurrection is not an empty vain hope, but it is Christ’s resurrection that holds the promise that casts away our sin and sorrow.
Peace, Pastor Arden Haug