It’s not unusual for me to get something in my head, and be convinced that I have it correct, only to discover that I have it backwards. For the last few weeks, I have been repeating to myself a phrase, which I was positive I had right, but was actually wrong.
In the midst of death, I’ve been telling myself, we are in life. The phrase comes to us from the Prayer Book burial rite, and we Brothers sing it at the midday service on Holy Saturday. The problem is, I have it backwards. What the text actually says is, in the midst of life we are in death.
It seems however, that the trick my mind has played on me, has some merit. This past year, has been one long, long season of death. It will not surprise you to hear that the number of cases of Covid-19 in this country alone, will soon reach 31 million, with over 555,000 deaths. In the midst of death.
Nor may it surprise you to hear, that since the beginning of the year, there have been 125 cases of mass shootings, with a total of 481 people wounded, and 148 others killed. In the midst of death.
We see unfolding in the news, reports of anti-Asian hate crimes rising. The other day the George Floyd murder trial began. In the midst of death.
Jesus came standing next to Mary Magdalene, but she did not know it was him. When Jesus called Mary by name, she recognized him. A most brief and beautiful portrait, so intimate, so familiar. Mary felt she had lost everything: her Lord, her friend, her way. Called by her name, Mary was found; she regained sight, saw Jesus beside her.
Jesus calls us by name. Some people hear God speak literally, audibly, as Mary did. That is not my experience. If it is, I missed it. If you experience that, be grateful. I do hear God call me by name, and it is powerful, resurrection power, like what Mary experienced. I bet you have experienced it too.
Romans 6: 3 – 11
Matthew 28:1 – 10
There was a dreadful custom at one time practiced in some Anglo-Catholic circles, including in a certain monastery on the banks of the Charles River. For the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, (which used to be called Passion Sunday), and carrying on until Holy Saturday, after each of the Offices, Psalm 51: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses would be mumbled in unison. Our brother, David Allen remembers this going on here when he made his first visit to the community in the late 1950’s. He thinks it came to an end sometime in the mid-1960’s. You can just imagine the effect of a dozen or so men, sitting here in the Choir, mumbling the psalm in unison. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
"Easter is a feast of hope. Not because the resurrection is a nice idea for wishful thinkers, but because God’s promise of life and liberty to all who believe is real. We know that God will keep the Divine Promise and grant us life, liberty, and healing, even as we live in the shadow of death." – Br. James Koester
The Great Vigil of Easter is the most solemn and ancient liturgy of the entire year. It is the culmination of Lent and Holy Week, and the Triduum.
Ring the bells! Worshippers at the Great Vigil of Easter ring handbells as we sing God’s Paschal Lamb at the beginning of the first Eucharist of Easter and during the singing of Jesus Christ is Risen Today. The tradition of silencing church bells on Maundy Thursday and ringing them again on Easter Day likely reflects an even more ancient custom of keeping silence before a spring equinox or a winter solstice, then celebrating it with a joyous celebration of light and sound announcing that the darkness has fled and that new life is coming back into the world. We know that this is true on Easter Day.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
- The Exsultet
- Easter Acclamation and Paschal Hymn
- Psalm 33:1-11
- Psalm 46
- The Song of Moses
- Psalm 122
- The First Song of Isaiah
- Psalm 42:1-7
- Psalm 30
- Psalm 98
- The Litany
- Jesus Christ is Risen Today
- "The Hope of the Resurrection" – Br. Curtis Almquist
Even as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection, Br. Curtis Almquist encourages us to acknowledge our own and the world's woundedness, to allow us to tap into Jesus' resurrection power in the here-and-now. Hallelujah!
- "In the Midst of Death, We are in Life" – Br. James Koester
Br. James Koester invites us to join the women at the tomb and to be shocked, overcome, and speechless – not at death – but at the unpredictable, Spirit-filled, risky life of Jesus' resurrection.
- "Bestowing Life" – Br. James Koester
In the midst of an Easter that feels unlike any we have known, Br. James Koester celebrates the truth that remains: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
- "Resurrection Knowing" – Br. Keith Nelson
On Easter morning, Br. Keith Nelson evokes the power of resurrection knowing, which implausibly, illogically, mysteriously, tangibly, palpably, materially, personally, lovingly, victoriously prepares us to sing into the mouth of the grave, "Alleluia."
- "Prisoners of Hope" – Br. James Koester
Br. James Koester celebrates how the life and love of God, through the resurrection of Jesus, can shatter our chains, and set us free.
- "Calling by Name" – Br. Luke Ditewig
God comes to us when we are face-first with death. On Easter Sunday, Br. Luke Ditewig encourages us to look back to remember, look up to give thanks, and look forward in hope, to claim Jesus' resurrection power over all that is killing us in this life.
- "Ring Your Bells!" – Br. James Koester
We experience Holy Week, not just with our minds but in our bodies. Br. James Koester invites us to recognize not just the aches and pains and grip of fear that Holy Week can evoke, but also the resurrection of Jesus, surging like an electric flash in our bodies.
- "Experience the Resurrection" – Br. Curtis Almquist
Claim the hope in Jesus’ resurrection for you in the here-and-now.
- "Love Reborn" – Br. James Koester
We should all be standing on a street corner today throwing our hats, or gloves, or coats or even our surplices into the air, because hope and forgiveness and love are reborn, and we want the world to know. Alleluia.
- "Those Five Words" – Br. James Koester
Those five words turned the world upside down. They renewed love. They restored hope. They rekindled courage. “I have seen the Lord."
- "From Still Days to Dawn" – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
We stand with the women at the empty tomb, at the dawn of universe, at the threshold of Life.
- "A Cause For Great Joy" – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
On Easter, we celebrate that Jesus has called us brothers, as he rolls the stone away from our hearts.
- "Joy Comes in the Morning" – Br. David Vryhof
The evidence for the Resurrection lies not in the empty tomb, but in the encounters of the first disciples with the Risen Lord.
- "The Power of God" – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
The power of God, which raised Jesus to life, which is more powerful than anything else in all creation, is the power of love.
- "Shekinah" – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
We need all the help we can get to keep us awakened to the wonder and significance of Easter: that “because he lives, we live also.”