April 03, 2018
Easter is the highlight of our year! And yet, the further we get from Easter, the easier it is for the Resurrection to become an abstraction.
So how do you keep the joy of Easter alive in your mind and heart?
Literature can be a vehicle to help us continue to deepen our Holy Week imagination. Whether you're looking for more theology to ground the joy you’ve experienced, longing to be immersed in fantasy stories that offer compelling visions of character and truth, searching for a redemption narrative that broadens your understanding of healing and restoration, or simply looking for compelling stories to read your children at night, we believe that having stories to draw from is worthwhile.
The books below, non-fiction and fiction alike, deal with the earth-shattering reality of redemption, and how it draws us, not simply into the next life, but ever more deeply into our life in this world.*
Fr. Brett's pick: This book "re-enchanted" the world for me when I was just out of college, had a slight edge because of it, and needed to hear compelling and eloquent defense of the Christian worldview. It was a huge encouragement to my faith.
Katie Bracy’s pick: This book helped me understand for the first time, the significance of the Resurrection, and the actual hope it offers, not just for the next life, but for this one.
Amy Patton's picks: This book series deals powerfully with how sin affects a community through the narrative of a prodigal son.
Fr. Brett’s pick: It is the Gospel in narrative form.
Katie Bracy’s pick: This powerful narrative reads as a re-telling of Genesis, involving a Cain and Abel-style brother relationship whose pattern repeats itself through time. Gave me a deep understanding of how my choices affect others.
Kaitlyn Wallett’s picks: This fantasy series based on Arthurian legend gives incredible images of leadership, faith, and imaginative prayer. I particularly recommend the first three books!
Meghan Robin’s picks: The first two books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, these fairy stories that start with a faun and a wardrobe have deepened countless children's imaginations about God. But parents, lest you think these are simply children's stories, Lewis' himself warned, "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." You may find yourself unable to stop after the children are all in bed.
Fr. Brett's pick: Beautiful story of hope and redemption, with a very moving Christ-figure who is the behind-the-scenes focal point of the redemption, as seen through the eyes of a young boy growing up in a run-down neighborhood of paupers and displaced outcasts.
Fr. Brett's pick: This story fuels the imagination; it's filled with beauty, truth, and goodness.
Stephanie Maruyama’s picks: These classic books take place in the Enchanted City, whose citizens resist the Enchanter and await the restoration of the Kingdom by the King and his followers.
April 02, 2018
Did you know that in our church calendar, Easter actually lasts fifty days, from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday? These "Eastertide" weeks are celebrated as a single joyful feast. This year, it's April 1–May 20.
N.T. Wright, an Anglican theologian, once wrote this about Eastertide:
"We are Easter people! We stand on resurrection ground. Easter is not only our greatest party (much greater by the way than Christmas, whatever you do on Christmas you ought to do ten times as much at Easter); Easter is the only reason we are here at all!
We should meet regularly for Easter parties. We should drink champagne at breakfast. We should renew baptismal vows with splashing water all over the place. And we should sing and dance and blow trumpets and put out banners in the streets. And we should invite the homeless people to parties and we should go around town doing random acts of generosity and celebration. We should be doing things which would make our sober and serious neighbors say, 'What is the meaning of this outrageous party?'"
Photo: Dancing breaks out at our 6am Easter service.
Every Sunday in Eastertide, we hear the celebrant say, "Alleluia. Christ is risen!" and we reply, "The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!" The full fifty days of Easter give us time to fully experience the joy and meaning of Christ's resurrection—the only reason we're here, in the words of Wright. Below are some suggestions on how to receive the gifts of this season.
Yes, really. Take time off of work, school, or your regular responsibilities at home, and set aside a "Prayer Day" to meet with Lord and enjoy the life he has given you. (Read this awesome Prayer Day Guide, lest you think that a Prayer Day only involves staring at a Bible in silence for 12 hours.) Since this is Easter, consider how you might creatively take a whole day to celebrate with God. Need ideas? During your Prayer Day, you might do any of the following...
Spend time reading and contemplating the accounts of Jesus' return: Luke 24:1-12, 13-35, and John 20:1-18 are great places to start. For a fresh take how to pray imaginatively with these accounts, check out these sample weeks of prayer from our Transformation Intensive class. It will jumpstart your imagination.
Holy Week allows us to engage our imagination through color, liturgy, and stories about Jesus' life told in a number different ways. There's no reason for this engagement to stop after Easter! But in addition to contemplating Biblical stories, literature is another way we can re-imagine the story of the Gospel, and begin to see it in our own lives. Several staff members shared their favorite picks to continue on the themes of Holy Week in a new way, including several for kids too! Check out the list here.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." After a long winter (especially here in Chicago!), there are few things more enlivening than taking a long walk in the flowering woods. As you marvel over impossibly pink crabapple trees or the sudden green bursting forth beneath your feet, receive the Lord's gifts of hope and joy through the tangibility of creation.
Photo: Easter flowers.
Easter is a season for feasting! Perhaps you can throw a delicious Eastertide dinner for a few of your friends, bake a cake to share with co-workers, or reach out and provide food for those who are struggling. Even if you aren't much of a cook, you can find small ways to delight (ice cream, anyone?).
During Holy Week and Easter, did you see anything beautiful? Did you realize something new or receive healing? Or do you still feel stuck, or sad? Wherever you are, step outside of your comfort zone, and share with someone. When we share our experiences of meeting the Lord, we encourage one another's faith, and when we share vulnerably about our struggles, we build trust and friendship with those who can love and help us.
At Rez, we love stories, and we love walking with people through their stories, no matter where they are on their journey. If you would like to share a celebration story with us, click here. If you would like to talk more with a pastor, you can request a meeting here. If sharing your story feels too scary right now, you can try writing your thoughts to God in your journal, or simply listen to others share their stories.
Sometimes our Holy Week experiences can leave us wondering: what's next? The Lord always has more for us. Sometimes, that next step can be as simple as committing to attend church on Sundays. At Resurrection, we're in the midst of an Eastertide sermon series where we are going more in-depth about some of the practices, like Baptism and Eucharist, that you encountered last week. The series is called Fully Sacramental: How God Draws Us Close. We have services at 8:30am and 10:30am.
Many churches have a class for those who are newer to their community. Ours is called First Step, and it starts on April 15 at 10:30am! This is a chance for you to get to know us and for us to get to know you. No RSVP necessary!
Photo: Easter Acclamation, when we shout that Christ is Risen!