Why We Remember Easter
In the Orthodox Church, there are many things that people find quizzical. Many people experience their first Orthodox service to be unlike anything they have experienced, seemingly independent of faith upbringing. But I want to share something from our Sunday Morning Prayer service, referred to by most churches as Matins or Orthros if you feel so inclined to look up a parish near you to check it out. Sunday Matins is a bit quizzical as far as services go because the service always incorporates a Gospel reading. Moreover, these are not just any Gospel readings, but the 11 Gospels of the Resurrection [And no, there’s not 7 Gospels that you’ve never encountered before; the rubrics just divide the Resurrection appearances of Christ into 11 parts. Similarly, our service on Great and Holy Thursday divides the retelling of the Passion of Christ into 12 parts, so we call it “The Reading of the 12 Gospels.”]
The Resurrection is everywhere in Matins. This hymn tells the story of the Resurrection so beautifully, particularly when sung in full congregational voice:
As such, I am used to hearing the story of the myrrh-bearing women. We celebrate them every Sunday, particularly at Matins. The second Sunday after Easter is dedicated to these women who came to tend to Christ’s body, even after it had been resting for 3 days in the tomb. No doubt they expected to find the stench of a body that had been enclosed in a tomb. After all, Lazarus is best known for the claim that “he stinketh” (seriously, some verses are just the best in their KJV form) after being dead for 4 days… surely Jesus’s body wouldn’t be all that great.
Yet, something absolutely astounding had happened. Christ’s body was not there; an angel proclaimed to the women that He had risen! The women drew near expecting to find human frailty. Instead they drew near and found the power of God. The women drew near expecting to find death. Instead they drew near and encountered the triumph of life.
I struggle to remember the faithfulness of Christ and His Resurrection. After all, the Resurrection is where the power of God meets our human frailty at the interface with sin, death, and the devil. So often it seems like 3 against 2; although, if we were honest, we would know that the odds are 4 against 1. Our human frailty rarely cooperates with the power of God. Yet in the Resurrection, we see God Himself changing the situation. The Resurrection of Christ occurred independent of our belief. The Resurrection of Christ occurred independent of our obedience. The Resurrection of Christ occurred independent of our grief. The Resurrection of Christ occurred independent of our expectations. The Resurrection of Christ occurred wholly dependent on a sovereign God, who in infinite love for mankind, manifested His divine power. In His bodily Resurrection, Christ raised up human flesh from the pit of corruption and death. If we have any hope for our human frailty, then we find it in the physical Resurrection of Christ.
We remember Easter to call to remembrance Christ’s absolute and total saving work of mankind that lead to our resurrection when we find ourselves in Him. The Incarnation shows us the lengths Christ went to identify with us through our lifetime, the Crucifixion shows us the crazy power of Love to defy all human expectations, and the Resurrection shows us the amazing hope we have… indeed the only hope we have.
Come! Let us worship His third-day Resurrection!