The apex of Easter is Resurrection Sunday. It is a central part of being a Christian that we believe Christ died and then rose on the third day. Resurrection Sunday is that third day. Churches all around the world celebrate that Christ is alive, having conquerred death and sin.
At Clayton, the celebration service was jam packed with activities. My involvement and service included singing in the choir and then having the privilege of baptising a brother in Christ! This experience was new for me, and I found myself slightly nervous at trying to remember what to say. My brother had the privilege of sharing his testimony in front of the church body, as did one other girl. Baptism is the public declaration of one’s faith; thus the words I said were something like “Do you profess that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah, Son of God?” The standard response is the simple “Yes, I do!” which I then complete by stating, “Therefore, I now baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!”
Read more about baptism here.
After the service, I had also organised for a group of us (17 in total) to celebrate Easter and the baptisms over chicken rice lunch @ Kotaraya, Bentleigh. The booking had one constraint that we would have to be there 12pm sharp and out by 1:15pm. Fortunately, it all worked out, even with the end-of-service group prayer we held for our newly baptised brother and sister. Kotaraya has a reputation for its chicken rice such that it is only available on weekends, and even then, only if pre-ordered. My original table booking was for all 8 to have chicken rice, and as I received more and more requests to join in, I then finalised the booking on Friday night for two tables of 16. With the last-minute addition and changes in people coming, we ended up ordering one extra dish, and everyone remained thoroughly satisfied.
As part of using the Easter long weekend to relax, I had also organised for a movie outing for the group – Captain America, The Winter Soldier @ Hoyts, Chadstone. Fortunately, we had until 2:50pm before the session start, so after leaving lunch at 1:15pm, we spent the next 1.5 hours at Chadstone.
This is just an example of how Easter becomes a busy period for myself, and other like-minded Christians. In the Christian calendar, Easter is not an end to itself, but is in fact a chance for new beginnings, as was demonstrated this year in the planned baptisms.
Jesus, having conquered death, created the whole empty tomb dilemma. Jews and Romans have helped to establish the events historicity – they too agreed and admitted the tomb was empty. Years later, a Roman historian recorded the birth of the Christian movement in that Jews were proclaiming a risen Christ even unto the point of persecution by death. Muslims get incredibly confused over the events since they try to claim that God did not actually allow Jesus to be crucified. This only opens up a whole raft of other follow-on questions which I will explore at a future point.
Jesus did stay on in Jerusalem for a short period before he ascended to heaven, but not before he taught His disciples to wait for what became known as Pentecost. Pentecost, held some 6-7 weeks after Easter, is thus another step in the journey of believers. It is arguably the birth event of the church, given that this was where God poured out His Spirit and the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the hearts of believers.
In 2013, my church partially celebrated Pentecost; the guest speaker that day helped to lead an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the end of the service. That day has become one of my key encounters with God in recent years. I look forward to Pentecost 2014 on Sunday 8 June!