Guess what? Remember how it takes forty days to prepare for Easter? Well, it takes fifty days to celebrate it!! That's right, it's not just one day to show up and celebrate it, let alone not worry about making church again until Christmas. Here's the deal.
We saw in the last few posts that Easter is not a stand-alone event. And if we didn't, here's a recap.
When God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let his people go from slavery, it wasn't about human rights or dignity or anything else, it was so that his people may worship him, and what he wanted them let go for was to give them the Law, and so that in turn they may take the Promised Land.
However, God's Law was not able to be fulfilled. So great is human sin, that is could not be fulfilled, even when the Law was laid only on a special people who were called out to receive it to in turn be a light to other peoples. In this we, all people, are shown our sin, our utter inability to attain to God even when he shows us exactly how to do it and doesn't even ask all of us to do it.
But, there is Good News. Having been shown our sin, God shows us our saviour, and not only that, becomes a man to be that Saviour himself! And this man, Jesus, transformed the Passover sacrifice of a lamb into the passing over from the slavery of sin by the body and blood of the Lamb of God, himself, then that body and blood was sacrificed at Calvary, and then God ratified all this and brought it to-gether in the resurrection Jesus from the dead.
It doesn't stop there. Just as Passover lead to the giving of the Law, so Easter leads to the giving of the Holy Ghost. It goes like this: in the Law of Moses God commanded a ritual counting of the fifty days between the celebration of Passover and the celebration of the giving of the Law, called Shavuot or Pentecost. Wait, what? Isn't Pentecost just a Christian deal? No, it's not. Pentecost was a Greek-derived later name for Shavout, the feast of the giving of the Law at Sinai, and this is why Scripture speaks of all the people being in town; they were there for what they thought would be that year's Pentecost. But instead, just as Jesus transformed Passover into the giving of himself, God counts the Omer and will transform Pentecost into the giving of the Spirit! So the church similarly counts and rejoices in Easter for fifty days until it celebrates the giving of the Law fulfilled and transformed into the giving of the Holy Ghost!
That counting from Passover to Shavuot is called the Counting of the Omer in the Law; the counting from Easter to Pentecost is called Eastertide. Thus, the joy and celebration of Easter is not one day, but fifty days leading right up to the gift of the Holy Ghost! We could call it the Easterly Joytime! In fact, in German they do -- die österliche Freudenzeit.
This joytime has several Sundays. The first is Easter itself. There are three seasons in the church year in which the Sundays have "nicknames" taken from the first word or two in Latin (called the incipit) of their Introits, and Eastertide is the third of them, Advent and Lent being the other two like this. Here they are.
Second Sunday of Easter -- Quasimodogeniti
As newborn babes: desire the sincere milk of the Word.
Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me. (I Peter 2:2)
Ps. Sing aloud unto God, our Strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. (PS 81:1)
Glory be to the Father etc.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who have celebrated the solemnities of the Lord's resurrection may, by the help of Thy grace, bring forth the fruits thereof in our life and conversation; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, out Lord, who liveth etc.
I John 5:4-10
Third Sunday of Easter -- Miserecordias Domini
Fourth Sunday of Easter -- Jubilate
Fifth Sunday of Easter -- Cantate
Sixth Sunday of Easter -- Rogate
Seventh Sunday of Easter -- Exaudi
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