A day of deliverance
Today is Easter, the most special day of the year for
Christians. I prefer the name Resurrection Sunday; it clearly describes what
this day is all about.
In the Early Church era, Easter was celebrated as an
overnight service, beginning on Saturday. Much of its content and imagery were
drawn from the Jewish Passover celebration. Thus, the Scriptures that were read
not only included the New Testament accounts of the passion, death and
resurrection of Jesus, but also Exodus 12 and 14. These chapters consist of
instructions for celebrating the first Passover and an account of the actual
Exodus from Egypt, culminating in the victorious escape of the Children of
Israel through the Red Sea and the decimation of Pharaoh’s legions.
Easter was partially a solemn vigil. But it also included a
love feast, highlighted by the celebration of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper.
By the fourth century, churches were holding baptismal
services to commemorate the day, reflecting the new spiritual life brought by
Christ’s resurrection. A special opening light ceremony illustrated the
transition from darkness to light brought by the saving work of Christ.
I believe it is especially appropriate for us to remember
the Passover roots of this great day. The deliverance of God’s people in the
Old Testament foreshadowed the wider spiritual deliverance that the death and
resurrection of Jesus would bring. As the early Christians did, we also should
celebrate this day as a passage from bondage to deliverance, from death to
life, from sorrow and pain to joy and spiritual prosperity.
When we receive the two elements of Communion, representing
Christ’s body and blood, it should be a solemn, then joyous time. Solemn, as we
recall the terrible price that was paid to win our salvation. Joyful, after the
elements have been received and we recall that Jesus came that we might have
life — a life that should be abundant (John 10:10)!
Abundant life in Christ is the heritage of Resurrection
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