Deeper Worship through Tradition: How the Church Calendar Can Enhance Easter
- Saturday, March 01, 2008
While the Jewish lunar calendar moves the dates of the feasts regularly so that First Fruits and Easter are not always on the same day, the significance (and sometimes the date) of our “holy day” of Easter corresponds directly with the Jewish holiday of First Fruits. Jesus is the first fruit of eternal life, the wave offering to God. Jesus' resurrection is the assurance of our resurrection. It is the promise that we will not see eternal death, but share in eternal life.
Paul explains it better:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power… (1 Cor. 15:20-25)
The Jewish readers of this letter would have immediately understood the connection Paul was making between Christ and the Feast of First Fruits. Now when they celebrated that feast, they would imbue it with even greater significance.
In a similar way, celebrating holy days—scheduled reminders of God's work through Christ—can make our worship more meaningful. Structure need not be stifling. Done right, it can be liberating!
These traditions also provide a means for teaching our children the redemption story. On Nate’s fifth Easter morning, we went through the routine again. “What’s today?” I asked.
“Easter!” he giggled. As in, don’t you know that, Mom?
“What’s that mean?” I prompted, not sure what I would hear this time.
He shouted, “Jesus is alive again!”
I had to fight back the tears. Yes, Jesus is risen.
He is risen indeed.
Kelley Mathews, Th.M. (Dallas Theological Seminary), married and blessed with three young children, spends her spare time freelancing as a writer and editor. She served several years as the Women’s Ministry Director at Rowlett Bible Fellowship. Her newest book release is Mixed Ministry: Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Culture, which can be found on her web site www.newdoors.info.
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