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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (April 2016)

posted Mar 31, 2016, 9:57 AM by Russell D. Hampton

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

~ Acts 1:1-5


In our culture, Christmas is celebrated and recognized leading up to Christmas Day.  Once Christmas Day has come and gone, then the celebrations cease and people go back to business as usual.  Nevertheless, in the Church, Christmas is not a time leading up to the day of Christmas.  The time before Christmas is Advent and the Christmas season lasts from Christmas Day culminating in the celebration of Epiphany on January 6. 


The same thing happens at Easter time.  The cultural celebrations include Easter egg hunts, Easter themed candy arrayed on supermarket shelves, the Easter bunny inviting children to sit on his lap for photo ops, etc., all prior to the actual day of Easter.  But in the Church, the time leading up to Easter is marked by penance, the disciplines of Lent, and journeying with Jesus to his cross.  The celebration of the resurrection, beginning on Easter Day, is not one day but an entire season – beginning Easter day and culminating in the celebration of Pentecost 50 days later. 


This Easter season has Biblical roots.  The author of Acts tells us that Jesus appeared to his disciples for forty days after the day of his resurrections.  He appeared to them to prove that he was alive, to further proclaim the kingdom of God, and to share with them that they would soon be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  After 40 days (notice the Biblical and liturgical connections here) he was taken up into heaven and the disciples were left waiting until the promised Spirit was poured out upon them.  Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, the Spirit descends upon the disciples and the Day of Pentecost was celebrated (Pentecost meaning “fifty” – fifty days after the resurrection, the Spirit was released upon the whole world). 


I invite you to join in the full celebration of Easter.  This year, the appointed Gospel readings for the six Sundays following Easter Day will focus on John’s accounts of Jesus Christ’s resurrected appearances and Jesus’ teachings leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.  The sermon theme during the Sundays in Easter following Easter Day will focus on the readings from Acts where the Apostles proclaim the resurrection and perform signs to demonstrate the in-breaking of God’s kingdom.  Ascension liturgy – the celebration of Jesus being taken into heaven – will be held on Thursday, May 5 at Mount Zion beginning at 6:30PM.  Pentecost Sunday will fall on May 15 this year.     


Christ is Risen!  ~ Pastor Maureen