The Standard April 16, 2020
On Easter Sunday in many churches the minister proclaims, “Christ is risen!” and the congregation affirms “He is risen indeed!” This is called the Paschal Greeting or Easter Acclamation and is a custom which many Christians have used for centuries around the world, more commonly at first in liturgical churches in the east. The greeting reflects the amazing and central resurrection account found in all four gospels.
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:1-7)
“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.” (Luke 24:5-8)
What unique celebrations this Holy Week and Easter were. Although we could not gather together for worship, there were assorted creative ways that communion, services and music were offered. Before the coronavirus pandemic many of us never had heard of virtual communion, drive-through communion, worship in vehicles in a parking lot, Facebook Live, Zoom or YouTube Live. Could it be that people staying at home listened to more Easter sermons and music than they would have if things had been “normal?”
A beautiful Celtic Easter song I discovered was by Kristyn and Keith Getty of Northern Ireland and Ed Cash of the United States. (Keith Getty co-wrote” In Christ Alone.”) “Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed” appropriately reminds us, “How can it be, the One who died, has born our sin through sacrifice to conquer every sting of death? Sing, sing hallelujah. For joy awakes as dawning light when Christ’s disciples lift their eyes. Alive he stands, their Friend and King; Christ, Christ he is risen. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Oh, sing hallelujah. Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed; Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.” The last stanza makes an especially fitting benediction for us to go out and share this Easter joy. “The power that raised Him from the grave now works in us to powerfully save. He frees our hearts to live his grace; Go tell of his goodness.”