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Archive for April 2nd, 2018

“CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, TRAMPLING DOWN DEATH BY DEATH AND UPON THOSE IN THE TOMBS: BESTOWING LIFE!”

Introduction: The Eastern Orthodox Churches have a great custom by calling the first week of the Paschal (Easter) Season “Bright Week”.  A great way to begin the 50 Days of Pascha leading to Pentecost, as we look at what our risen Lord taught His Church for her life and mission into the world and still does.   Easter, like Christmas, is not only a day each, but  a season each.

Further, as Lent is time of preparation for seekers to be Baptized, then the Paschal Season is a time for the newly baptized, and the ‘oldly’ baptized as well, to be instructed in the Way of the Lord more fully.  St. Basil the Great wrote it well regarding Baptism in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection:

“This is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: the water accomplishes our death, while the Spirit raises us to life. This great sign of baptism is fulfilled in three immersions, with three invocations, so that the image of death might be completely formed, and the newly baptized might have their souls enlightened with divine knowledge. If there is any grace in the water, it does not come from the nature of the water, but from the Spirit’s Presence, since baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3: 21)  The Lord describes in the Gospel the pattern of life we must be trained to follow after the (baptismal) resurrection: gentleness, endurance, freedom for the defiling love of pleasure, and from covetousness. We must be determined to, acquire in this life all the qualities of the life to come. To define the Gospel as a description of what resurrectional life should be like seems to be correct and appropriate, as far as I am concerned.”  (On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great; emphasis my own)

St. Basil’s definition of the Gospel, “…as description of what resurrectional life should be”, is a good one as is his encouragement to acquire those qualities of the Lord’s life in our lives.  The encouragement from the Scripture, and based upon the Word, from the fathers, is to eat and drink His Word and inwardly digest it, so our hearts are warmed and enlivened to do and obey His Word, so He sanctifies us day by day.  The encouragement of the resurrectional life will be a theme of these Paschal postings.  

Hebrews 3:  13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

READINGS: Exodus 15:1-18 or Daniel 12:1 c-3  Psalm 100 (antiphon: v. 5) Acts 10:34-43 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8  Luke 24:13-49

VERSE:  Alleluia. Christ Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Alleluia. 2 Tim. 1:10

 Reflection:  The way the Baptismal life is engendered is by repentance and forgiveness as the Lord made plain on the road to Emmaus with His disicples who did not recognize Him.  The Lord taught them and then in the fullness of time, they saw it was the  Lord in the breaking of the bread as He gives us His bread for our journey as His Body, His Church.  In His Word, the Lord Jesus gave them a heart to be taught and to burn with the fire of His life and love.  In the disciples’ despair the Lord Jesus lifted them up. His Word, Incarnate, Written, Taught and Preached  is always central, foremost in our life together for His formation of His resurrectional life in us as His baptized children.

 “A child listens to his parents, from whom he was conceived and born, speaking to him with heart-felt desire and love. If you are born of God, then you will gladly listen to God the Lord speaking to you in His Word-especially regarding the resurrection of Christ, by which He has brought such precious gifts along for for us…O Holy Trinity, You Self-sufficient Love, ignite also in our heart this fire of Your Love!” ( Rev. Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard, +1637)

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