But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
I learned something new on Sunday morning. I learned that on Easter, when a Christian greets you by saying “He is risen,” the proper response is He is risen, indeed.” Seriously, I’d never heard that before Pastor Randy greeted me that way right before “sunrise services” (I say that in quotes because sunrise yesterday was at 7:27 a.m. and our “sunrise services” were scheduled to kick off at 8:30 a.m.).
I also remembered something that I had completely forgotten. Easter is usually the service which requires a multimedia program for the main event. But I didn’t remember that until the program actually started.
I did remember that church is usually packed on Easter and tried to arrive early, but the real crowds didn’t show up by 8:30 (though there was a respectable attendance). By the middle of the main service (or around 10:30 or so), people were still coming in and it was practically standing room only.
But the thing that struck me most of all was my lack of emotional attachment to Easter. Everyone was fairly gushing with joy and happiness over Easter and while I think it is important to commemorate the resurrection of the Master, I just didn’t “feel” it, at least not with an intense power surge.
I dunno…maybe there’s something wrong with me. As an emotional experience, it felt pretty much like any other Sunday at church. I had some friendly conversations with folks. I enjoyed Pastor Randy’s teachings. I was OK with the music and the Easter program.
But it wasn’t like the day was incredibly, amazingly, profoundly, special. I’m sure that after it was all over (around 11:30), families went home for a big Easter Sunday feast, but because I’m the lone Christian in my house, I went home and helped my wife pull weeds and water the new plants.
I don’t know how it happened, but I’m more attached to Passover than I am Easter. It’s probably through sheer repetition. Even when I first became a believer, I only attended a church for a few years before becoming “Messianic.” I’ve probably been to a lot more Seders than I have Easter Sunday sunrise services. In fact, this was the first early morning service I’ve ever attended for “Resurrection Day.”
Actually, besides Pastor Randy’s teaching on Luke 24, I’d have to say that the early morning outdoor service was my favorite part. I learned that even when the high for the day is projected to be about 70 degrees F, it’s still quite cold outside at 8:30 in the morning. I’m glad I wore a sweater, but people brought blankets, and when I first sat down, that chair seat was freezing!
Someone reads a section of Luke spanning chapters 22 through 24 and we sing a little bit. Back and forth, back and forth. Three stanzas and five readers. Sing a stanza, a reader reads. I like having the Bible read to me. It sort of reminds me of a Torah service when readers are each called up for an aliyah.
Other than that, I especially liked when, during the main service, Pastor explained what “TaNaKh” meant, including that “Law” is a poor translation of the word “Torah,” and that “Torah” comes from a Hebrew root word related to “teaching.” I did a silent little happy dance inside when he was sharing that from the pulpit.
I almost felt him chiding me when he was talking about how we need to study the scriptures, and especially on “things to come.” We had the identical conversation last Wednesday. I told him I tended to steer clear of studies and commentaries about “the end times” because I’ve encountered too many people who are just “conspiracy theory crazy” about “the end times.” He said to everyone else on Sunday what he more or less said to me last Wednesday. I doubt he was trying to “zing” me, but maybe my response to him resulted in the topic being included in his sermon.
I learned the theological use for the words “inspiration” and “illumination.” Apparently inspiration is directly related to this:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
–2 Timothy 3:16
“Inspiration” really means “expiration” (actually, “exhalation”) or breathing out, so imagine God exhaling and His Word leaves His lips and enters the ears of man. Pastor Randy said that each word of the Bible was written exactly as God intended it to be written and thus is perfect. I tend to think of the Bible more like a partnership between God and human beings so that something supernatural is experienced by the writer, but the vocabulary, style, syntax, and everything else about the written scriptures has the “thumbprint” of the human author. That’s why we see such variability between accounts of the same event in different Gospels, for instance.
“Illumination” is just what it sounds like, light or enlightening.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself…They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
–Luke 24:27, 32
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
During his sermon, Pastor Randy said almost exactly what I often think about. He said that he would love to be able to watch and listen as Jesus opened the minds of the apostles and explained scripture. From my point of view, I would be ecstatic if Messiah would open up my rusty mind and interpret the scriptures with absolute fidelity for me.
I’ve said before that I believe one of the roles of the returned Messiah is that he will be a great teacher (the greatest) and teach what the Bible means in absolutely correct and perfectly enlightening terms to all of us.
Please, illuminate me.
But that, among many other things, is yet to come.
I wish I could get all worked up about Jesus being risen. But in my mind, he was risen a thousand years ago, he was risen the day before yesterday, and he’ll still be risen the day after tomorrow. I know Easter (interestingly, Pastor Randy referred to the day as “Resurrection Day” or “the Lord’s Day,” but he didn’t say “Easter” once…he did mention the Didache, which surprised me, since FFOZ articles refer to it with some regularity) is the Christian equivalent to Passover; a sort of “retelling” of the greatest event in the history of the church.
But like I said, I didn’t feel it. Easter Sunday didn’t resonate within me. I went to have fellowship and to worship, but the fact that it was Easter didn’t set off any bells and whistles. I wonder if it ever will?
He explained those statements, saying that it was energetically imperative for human beings to realize that the only thing that matters is their encounter with infinity.
from The Author’s Commentaries on the Occasion of the Thirtieth Year of Publication of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, pg xiii
Maybe I’m just bad at Christian traditions and culture. Or maybe I missed out on a special encounter with infinity; with the infinite One.