Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

The Great Fifty Days

Monday, April 15th, 2019

The Church season provides for 50 days of celebration of the feast of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead–known as “the Great Fifty Days.”

Unfortunately, the Easter flowers don’t last that long, and people begin to head for the parks or the country on Sundays, and Easter is soon forgotten. Ironically, the 40 days of Lent seem more likely to be observed faithfully!

And yet the tradition is a good one. We need to be reminded that Christ always gives us new life, and we need that reminder as much as we need to acknowledge our sins during Lent.

We have no trouble remembering to celebrate Christmas time. Let’s celebrate Easter time as well. —J. Douglas Ousley


Conspiracy Theories

Monday, October 30th, 2017

As political conspiracy theories fly about in the political sphere, it’s interesting to note that such theories have not fared well in the realm of Bible studies.

One theory that goes back to early times and is revived every few years is the notion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, buried it secretly, and then pretended that they saw him alive. Another theory had him surviving the crucifixion and then pretending he was resurrected.

There are massive amounts of evidence why such conspiracies are unlikely. For example, if Jesus never died, what happened to him after Easter? Wouldn’t he have lived a normal life on earth–instead of “ascending” into Heaven, as the Bible teaches? And if the disciples had hidden his body, their deception would surely have been discovered by local authorities who were anxious to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah risen from the dead.

Another fanciful theory, for which there isn’t a shred of contemporary evidence, is that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene.

There’s nothing like a secret plot to spur the human imagination. Happily, for Christians, the evidence is strong that Christ was who he said he was. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


TMI

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

TMI. “Too much information.” This expression is used when someone tells you more about themselves than you wanted to know–about their relationships, for example, or their health.

I would argue that we have too much information about the Resurrection–which is why the various New Testament accounts disagree in many details: how many angels were at the tomb on Easter morning, whether Jesus in his spiritual form could be touched, etc.

Yet the fact that we have all this information does, I would argue, add to the credibility of the witnesses. For disagreements among witnesses about details of an experience are common. Court cases frequently have conflicting testimony about the simplest events.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was not a simple event. All the more reason to expect different stories from different witnesses. All the more reason to expect that the new life of Jesus will remain a cherished miracle beyond our grasp. —J. Douglas Ousley


By God’s Gift

Friday, March 25th, 2016

On Ash Wednesday, the blessing of the ashes concludes with these words: “that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life.”

I don’t know whether non-Christians receive a life after death; I suppose I believe they do, though they may have to go through a period of post-mortem preparation for the life of Heaven.

But what is relevant to Christians is that eternal life is a gift of God. It’s not something we merit; it’s not something we can expect automatically. It’s a gift.

And that gift is part of the reason we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning. For he is, as St. Paul said, “the first fruits of them that slept”–the first person to rise into the glory of eternity, foreshadowing the potential we all are now given to inherit eternal life. So, as the hymn says, “Jesus lives, now no longer death enthralls us–Alleluia!” —J. Douglas Ousley


Easter Cliches

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Every priest I know struggles with Easter sermons. Everyone has heard it all before; it’s hard to say anything new.

But, in addition, it’s also hard to wrap our minds around the event that Easter celebrates. What was “the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead?” What does it mean to us, 2000 years later? What new life do we have now?

Perhaps it’s worth noting that Easter is not so much to be thought about as to be experienced. And in the experience of Holy Week and Easter, the imagination is as much an engine of inspiration as the reason.

That’s why we walk the way of the Cross with Jesus from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper, to Good Friday and the Cross, and to Easter Eve and the New Fire before we arrive at the joy of Easter Day. In doing so, we go way beyond the cliches.

Happy Holy Week. —J. Douglas Ousley