Holiday Almanac: Easter dawns with resurrection hope
Christians celebrate today as Easter, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter, the greatest holiday of the Christian year, ratifies for believers the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God.
As told in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the body of Jesus was wrapped and buried in a rocky tomb near Jerusalem. Women came three days later to embalm the corpse, but found it missing. Jesus then began appearing to various groups of his followers, with the commission to ‘‘make disciples of all nations.”
Christians also celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for the hope it holds out for eternal life. As Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live.”
Sunrise services — in parks, on beaches, even in cemeteries — are common Easter Sunday celebrations. The events are often sponsored by two or more churches, or even by whole ministerial associations.
Because of dating differences, the world’s 225 million Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter next Sunday, April 12. For most Eastern Orthodox, the holy day begins the previous night with the Resurrection Service. At midnight, the pastor carries a lighted candle, a flame that is passed on to his congregants’ candles. Then the pastor and choir sing hymns outside the church and return for the Pascha, the Easter liturgy.
— James D. Davis