Over a week removed from Resurrection Sunday, many Christians have moved on from Easter – with maybe the exception of some lingering candy and leftover ham in the fridge.
It’s a reality that the celebration of Jesus’ birth seems to capture more of the world’s attention and imagination than His Resurrection – even though both are monumental in importance. Not to mention you wouldn’t have the second without the first. Yet Christmas still reigns culturally supreme. Americans collectively spent over $900 billion on the occasion of Jesus’ birth – and just $24 billion combined on Easter.
Yet, it’s still Easter.
Spanning 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost (May 28th this year), Eastertide is a wonderful opportunity to extend the celebration of Jesus’ miraculous Resurrection.
One of the many ways to do so is to continue to enjoy the grand and glorious music of the season, and you can do no better than Charles Wesley’s soaring hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
Originally titled “Hymn for Easter Day” and released in 1739, the leader of the Methodist movement and prolific hymn writer found the popular hymn of the day, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” from the early 1700s, to be theologically incomplete and insufficient. Wesley basically wanted to punch things up and use the lyrics of the song to communicate the grandeur of Jesus’ Resurrection more accurately.
There are several phrases that accomplish this goal in dramatic and stirring fashion:
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply: Alleluia!
It’s easy to be heavily burdened by the sins and sufferings of this world, but the fact that Christ rose from the dead provides believers with the ultimate hope and relief. We don’t have to wait to celebrate until we get to Heaven. Eternal life begins now.
“Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!” we read in Revelation. “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you. He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (12:12).
The day is coming when every wrong will be righted.
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
These lines, which allude to Hosea 13:14 and 1 Cor. 15:55, took on new emphasis for me following the death of my mother and father. Of course we mourn the loss of loved ones, but for believers their death no longer stings because we’re confident they’re celebrating and rejoicing with the Lord.
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
It’s critical we remain engaged on an earthly level, but true victory doesn’t depend on our victory. That mountain was already conquered on Calvary.
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Each Easter the late ABC Radio newsman Paul Harvey used to deliver what he called “the shortest though not the best sermon you’ll hear each year.” He would say, “Jesus lived the good life in a wicked world to show us that it could be done – and He died and rose again – to show us that we could do that, too.”
If you’re feeling frustrated, irritated, or even hopeless with the latest headlines, take heart. Relief is on its way.
You’ll also note that every line is punctuated with the word “Alleluia!” – “God be praised.” We can never praise our Creator and Savior enough.
An extended celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection helps remind us just how transformational the event was – and remains today. We often hear people say they’re “summer people” or “cold-weather people.” To each his or her own, as they say. Yet as Christians, we may emphasize or deemphasize non-salvation issues, but it’s the reality of Jesus rising from the dead that should unite us as one.
It was Pope John Paul II who famously declared, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!”
Let’s keep singing and celebrating the Good News of Easter Sunday’s Miracle, at least until the end of May – and preferably all year long.
Photo from Shutterstock.