Easter in August – Part 5 – Easter Traditions
NEW CLOTHES AT EASTER
There’s an old superstition that wearing new clothes on Easter means good luck for the rest of the year. I’m not really sure why the tradition came about but I always remember my mother taking me shopping in the spring for new clothes for Easter. I couldn’t wear them until that day and I always hoped and prayed for good weather so I wouldn’t have to wear winter boots over my new shoes. Not sure if anyone else remembers those days. Oh, and my mother always had a new hat!
As the story goes, Mary arrived at Jesus’s tomb at dawn on Easter morning to find it empty. In honor of the occasion, many churches hold services at sunrise so parishioners can experience the event similar to how it happened. The first one on record was held in 1732 in Saxony, Germany, by a group of young men. The next year, the entire congregation attended the early-morning ceremony, and soon, the sunrise service had caught on across the country. By 1773, sunrise services had spread to the U.S.—the first was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Rejoice, the Lord is King – 267
As we come to the end of our series on Easter, we have one of Charles Wesley’s hymns celebrating the victory of Jesus over death that begins the reign of Christ as King.
The final verse looks forward to that day when the consummation of all things shall occur with the return of Christ as promised in the Scriptures.
The hymn is a great encouragement to all generations who live in the time between the resurrection of Jesus and his ultimate return. For the faithful who believe that time holds no element of fear but holds great hope as it will usher in that new heaven and new earth – that new Jerusalem envisaged by St. John the Divine.
He is Lord – 252
He is Lord is one of numerous anonymous Scripture songs arising out of the charismatic movement of the 1960s. This popular song is drawn from the well-known confession of faith recorded in Philippians 2:10-11. There Paul is quoting from an early Christian hymn that was used as a profession of faith. While in our Book of Praise only the one verse appears, there are three additional verses which appear in the British Methodist Hymns and Praise and The Worshiping Church. Permission has been granted for them to be used in public worship and so today we are going to be able to sing them as well.
These additional verses use phrases from John’s gospel and letters. He is King celebrates Christ as the king who draws all nations to him (John 12:32. He is Love draws on John’s description of Jesus as the source and model of love (1John 3:16) which interestingly is also a passage in John’s gospel speaking of the love of God for the world. Finally, he is Life. Christ’s death and resurrection sets us free and calls us all to live forevermore (1 John 5:11).
Congregations have used this hymn as a profession of faith and as a hymn of approach for communion during the Easter season.
He is King, he is King!
He will draw all nations to him, he is King;
and the time shall be when the world shall sing
that Jesus Christ is King!
He is Love, he is Love!
He has shown us by his life that he is Love.
All his people sing with one voice of joy
that Jesus Christ is Love!
He is Life, he is Life!
He has died to set us free and he is Life;
and he calls us all to live evermore,
for Jesus Christ is Life!
All hail King Jesus – 268
The theme of Jesus as King continues with our next hymn. This is a modern hymn first appearing in 1979. It was written by Dave Moody and is another example of the choruses that arose from the charismatic movement of the 1960’s which carried on through the 1970’s and has reached thousands of people. The tunes for much of this music are easy to follow and are admirably adapted for use by small as well as large groups and can be sung by all ages.
This hymn – like our first one – looks to that time when Christ will have returned, and we will be able to praise him in eternity as we praise him now.
Crown him with many crowns – 274
To finish our series, I chose this hymn which keeps us on the theme of Christ as King and fittingly moves us on from the event that brought us the celebration of new life at Easter to the fulfillment of all things in Christ.
Matthew Bridges who is credited with writing this hymn was born in Essex, England in 1800. He was not a clergyman but an author of books on the Roman Empire and the origin of papal superstitions. While he was a member of the Church of England, he was influenced by Bishop John Henry Newman and later became a Roman Catholic. He spent the latter part of his life in Canada and died in Quebec in 1894.
Crown him with many crowns is an exploration of the many facets of Christ’s kingship. He is the Son of God, but he is also the Son of Man. He is the Protector of his people but also the one who will give his life for them.
He is the Lord of life and the Lord of Peace. The call of Christ encourages people everywhere to embrace life and to cease their warring ways and embrace peace.
In the last verse, Christ is crowned the Lord of Years, the Source, the End of time. Matthew then adds his own personal confession of faith as he encourages each one of us to remember as we sing that “[Christ] died for me.” And so, the praise of Christ shall never, never fail throughout all eternity.