All tagged easter

The Exsultet: the proclamation of Easter

In the weeks leading to Easter—and with terrifying memories of my diaconal year—I (with fear and trembling) practise singing the Exsultet, just in case the deacon tasked with the nine-minute solo falls ill. As scary as it is to sing this most beautiful and ancient hymn, it is a good sight less anxiety-inducing than what our earliest forebears did: the back then, deacon had to improvise the thing. Thank God for liturgical standardisation. […]

Easter series -- “God is gone up with a merry noise”

When I first arrived at the Chapel where I now serve as Chaplain, I was somewhat dismayed to find it dominated by this image of the Ascension. Not that this image, populated by angels rather than the more conventional baffled disciples, is instantly recognizable as a depiction of the Ascension. That in itself is oddly appropriate, since this key episode in the Christian story is prone to being confused or conflated with others. […]

Easter series -- “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Religion is once again a fashionable subject, at least as far as the media is concerned. It is not surprising to find religion close to our front pages or featured early in our news programmes. Theology, on the other hand, is less and less fashionable; something we hope the School of Theology will address. What I mean by distinguishing religion and theology here is that the media’s current love affair with religion is a love affair on their own terms: religion needs to be juicy, controversial, full of soundbites. It mustn’t ask difficult questions […]

Do you watch Call the Midwife? I’m sure you know it features the same order of nuns who now live in this parish. In a favourite scene of mine, the redoubtable Sister Evangelina chides nurse Miller for buying dolly mixtures for the children. “Barley Sugar twists I said! Take all the jujubes out of there. They're everyone's favourite, and we don't want a riot on our hands.” Older and wiser, she understands that a sweet is a treat. A choice is a recipe for dissatisfaction. [...]

In a strange way, the events of the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are much easier to wrap our minds around than the events of Easter morning. We can picture the disciples on Maundy Thursday breaking bread with Jesus, we can picture Jesus, a towel wrapped around his waist, washing their feet, we can picture Good Friday with the crown of thorns and the crowds, we can picture the cross and the nails, we can picture the spear, and the dead body, and the tomb. [...]

The gospel stories of the first Easter Sunday morning and the following days have a stark simplicity about them. Although each gospel writer gives an account with a slightly different emphasis and intention, none of them dress the story up with pageantry or high dramatics. There is no attempt to cover up the fear and frailty of the disciples. Nor is there any attempt to explain what happened.  Their message is essentially that of Mary, “We have seen the Lord”. [...]

Today is a day of great celebration. But why? We’re remembering a rather fantastical event that happened, or which is alleged to have happened, almost two thousand years ago. How can that still be good news? How can this man’s coming back to life still be of interest today? Let’s start back at that first Easter, and the experiences of three people. [...]

Crowds are important in Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, as we recall Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem we carry our palms to remind us of the crowds who welcomed him into the Holy City, with blessings, prayers and shouts of praise. On Maundy Thursday, when we strip the church and leave in silence, we become those crowds of people who have now abandoned Jesus to his fate and leave him entirely alone.  [...]