You may be done with Easter Sunday services and Easter egg hunts. You may have put away your fancy new Easter dress and your bunny decorations. But Easter isn’t over, at least not for millions of Christians throughout history and throughout the world today.
Mark D. Roberts introduces the idea of Easter as a season with the above words, part of a post here that is worth reading in its entirety.
In the church calendar the Easter season begins on Easter Sunday and goes to Pentecost Sunday. That gives, Roberts points out, seven weeks of Sunday worship to sing Easter hymns and focus more intently on the resurrection of Jesus. He writes:
I was ready to experiment with all of this, though I must confess it felt rather strange to sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” a couple of weeks after Easter Sunday. (“Christ the Lord is Risen Two Weeks Ago” wouldn’t work either.) Moreover, the word “Eastertide” sounded strange to me, like some remnant of days gone by. Nevertheless, I did my best to be a good sport. Slowly, over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate celebrating Easter for more than just a single Sunday.
Especially for churches and Christians that observe 40 days of lent Lent (which, let’s be honest, can feel loooong), marking and celebrating the even longer 50 days of Eastertide is important. Roberts recommends some practical ways to engage in and celebrate the risen life of Jesus. Check it out here.
Who am I? They often tell me
I step out from my cell
calm and cheerful and poised,
like a squire from his manor.
Who am I? They often tell me
I speak with my guards
freely, friendly and clear,
as though I were the one in charge.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bear days of calamity
serenely, smiling and proud,
like one accustomed to victory.
Am I really what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, yearning, sick, like a caged bird,
struggling for life breath, as if I were being strangled,
starving for colors, for flowers, for birdsong,
thirsting for kind words, human closeness,
shaking with rage at power lust and pettiest insult,
tossed about, waiting for great things to happen,
helplessly fearing for friends so far away,
too tired and empty to pray, to think, to work,
weary and ready to take my leave of it all?
Who am I? This one or the other?
Am I this one today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? Before others a hypocrite
and in my own eyes a pitiful, whimpering weakling?
Or is what remains in me like a defeated army,
Fleeing in disarray from victory already won?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest me; O God, I am thine!
At the age of 21 Dietrich Bonhoeffer successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church. (Click on the cover image at right for more information about the book.) Bonhoeffer’s biographer Eberhard Bethge notes that Karl Barth said of Bonhoeffer’s early work:
I openly confess that I have misgivings whether I can even maintain the high level reached by Bonhoeffer, saying no less in my own words and context, and saying it no less forcefully, than did this young man so many years ago.
I’ve been reading excerpts from Sanctorum Communio (translated into English), from The Bonhoeffer Reader. And… wow. It’s unbelievably good–and would be even if Bonhoeffer had written it years later, but it’s especially remarkable coming at the age of 21.
For now, one quotation will suffice. This is Bonhoeffer on the “vicarious representation” of Christ:
God does not ‘overlook’ sin; that would mean not taking human beings seriously as personal beings in their very culpability; and that would mean no re-creation of the person, and therefore no re-creation of community. But God does take human beings seriously in their culpability, and therefore only punishment and the overcoming of sin can remedy the matter. Both of these have to take place within concrete time, and in Jesus Christ that occurs in a way that is valid for all time. He takes the punishment upon himself, accomplishes forgiveness of sin, and, to use Seeberg’s expression, stands as surety for the renewal of human beings. Christ’s action as vicarious representative can thus be understood from the situation itself.
In recent weeks I’ve gotten more consistent in fulfilling this blog’s original intent to offer Worship Leading Wednesdayseach week. I’m not sure if in my capacity as worship leader–whether past or present–I would necessarily read the above paragraph in a service of worship… but it sure does inspire me to praise God, with a spirit of gratitude for the miraculous work of the cross.
Last Wednesday I posted a chord chart for Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Here (pdf) is a chord chart I have used for the classic hymn, How Great Thou Art. It’s quite simple–just three chords throughout. More chords could be added, so the chart could also serve as a jumping off point.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty has always been one of my favorite hymns. Here (pdf) is a chord chart I put together for the hymn, in case you’ve been Googling “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty guitar chord charts” and haven’t found anything yet. Not all hymnals have chords, so hopefully this can be of help to some worship leaders.
I’ve benefitted from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefitted immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information.
Lectio Divina means “holy reading” or “divine reading.” The idea is to deliberately reflect in God’s presence on God’s words, inviting God to echo his words in us today. The most classic formulation of this ancient Benedictine practice is the four-part: lectio (read), meditatio (meditate), oratio (pray), and contemplatio (contemplate).
I’ve also seen a slightly adjusted form, which I’ve used in groups and individually. It goes like this:
Read: What does the passage say?
Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage? (short phrase or single word)
Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying?
Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?
Lectio works best with smaller passages–a few verses from the Psalms or Proverbs… perhaps some words of Jesus or a Pauline prayer. Colossians 3:15-17 is a good place to start, if you’re new to the practice:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In a group setting, readers (four different ones) can read the passage out loud (slowly) before each of the four movements. Individually, one could just read and re-read the passage before each of the four movements.
I’ve also found benefit in doing the fourth “respond” movement creatively: maybe I respond not just seated through prayer, but perhaps there is a response through song or drawing or movement that I can offer.
There are other approaches to Lectio; it’s certainly not meant to be formulaic. But whether I do it in 5 minutes or 30 minutes, with a group or by myself, I find that I am always impressed with how much God’s Word/words still can speak today–if I quiet myself enough to listen.
With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to ever lead the church.
The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.
With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday. The name of the new pope, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, by tradition would not be revealed until he appeared on a balcony on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
No name yet, but that will come soon. More here for now.