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March 31, 2010 > Easter

Easter

By Suzanne Ortt

Crucifixion and resurrection are at the root of Christianity. Good Friday and Easter, two momentous days, honor and celebrate Jesus Christ. Good Friday services, held before Easter, commemorate His death on the cross. Easter celebrates His resurrection, His rising after death and burial. Easter, a Christian experience, happens around the Jewish Passover. The Biblical account has Jesus' supper as part of the Passover.

Western Christian and Eastern Orthodox Churches both celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Usually the dates are different but, this year, both observe Easter on April 4. Each church uses the same method for setting the dates: "The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox." The differences are the calendars used. The Western Church uses the Gregorian calendar and the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar. Also the Eastern Church sets the date of Easter so that it follows Passover.

Holy Week is the week before Easter as is Palm Sunday. Upcoming is the commemoration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. It is followed by special events on Good Friday focusing on Christ's death upon the Cross.

Some begin Easter, rejoicing at the rebirth or resurrection of Jesus Christ, with sunrise services. All churches celebrate throughout this joyous day. The apex of the Christian year will have special music and camaraderie among the congregants.

Following church services, family feasts are usually held in homes or at restaurants. Traditional meats eaten include lamb. It was adopted from the lamb sacrificed at Jewish Passover and for Christians it came to signify Christ's death on the cross. Hot cross buns and traditional Easter bread frequently add to the menu. Varied foods comprise the feast, based on familial preferences.

Often the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Commonly Easter egg hunts are part of the day, or the weekend. The egg, from ancient times, has been a symbol of renewal of life. Coloring of eggs developed from many countries. Greece's custom is to dye eggs red, to represent victory over death.

Below is a summary of the story of Jesus Christ's Resurrection of Jesus Christ, based on
Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-21:25.

After Jesus was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea had Christ's body placed in his own tomb. A large stone covered the entrance and soldiers guarded the sealed tomb. On the third day, a Sunday, several women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and Salome are all mentioned in the gospel accounts) went to the tomb at dawn to anoint the body of Jesus.

A violent earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled back the stone. The guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone. The angel announced to the women that Jesus who was crucified was no longer in the tomb. "He is risen, just as he said." Then he instructed the women to inspect the tomb and see for themselves. Next he told them to go inform the disciples (Jesus' followers).

With a mixture of fear and joy they ran to obey the angel's command, but suddenly Jesus met them on their way. They fell at his feet and worshiped him. Jesus then said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me." When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.

After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb, and later appeared again at least twice to the disciples, while they were gathered at a house in prayer. He visited two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and he also appeared at the Sea of Galilee while several of the disciples were fishing.

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