An Easter Sunday Prayer and Blessing
An Easter Sunday Prayer and Blessing
Veronica Neffinger iBelieve Contributor
Often, it is difficult to truly step into the joy of what Easter means simply because it is Easter Sunday. If you are feeling the weight of the world this Easter, it can be helpful to ponder the significance of the resurrection in a new light.
He is risen!
This exulting phrase has been a traditional Easter greeting in the Christian church for centuries. The traditional response is, of course, He is risen indeed!
I’ve always loved sharing this greeting with friends, family, and brothers and sisters in Christ on Easter Sunday. It’s a beautiful way to remind each other of Christ’s victory over death and to share the joy of his resurrection.
The phrase initially comes from Luke 24 and the account of the travelers on the road to Emmaus after Christ’s death and resurrection:
“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he [Jesus] talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’ And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’” (32-34).
Like last Easter, this Easter may look a bit different as we are now a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Many churches are still not meeting for in-person worship and many families are not hosting large family gatherings, yet the wonder and joy of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin is just as real, and more needed than ever.
My prayer for you and your family this Easter is that you may find renewed joy and hope in the simple phrase “He is risen,” and that your heart and soul may readily echo back, “He is risen indeed.”
A Poem for Your Easter Sunday
Often, it is difficult to truly step into the joy of what Easter means simply because it is Easter Sunday. You may have still had a tough day, week, or even year, and the joy of Easter may seem empty because it is swallowed up by worldly concerns and burdens. If you are feeling the weight of the world this Easter, it can be helpful to ponder the significance of the resurrection in a new light.
John Updike’s poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter” is often helpful for this very purpose. My church has a tradition of reading it slowly each Easter Sunday, and every year it opens up more meaning to me regarding the resurrection.
“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike (1960)
Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Evie S
A Blessing and Scripture for Your Easter Sunday
May you know with renewed clarity and poignancy this Easter that the resurrection was a real event, rooted in history, with monumental significance for the minutiae of our lives today.
May you come to see the resurrection as the fulcrum on which the course of history, the fate of humanity, and your own life rests.
May you read the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15 in which he affirms the truth of Christ’s resurrection with new eyes:
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied…” (Read full passage here, in 1 Corinthians 15:12-28).
This Easter, may you joyously proclaim “Alleluia” when considering Christ’s resurrection.
May you look forward to joining the chorus of voices from the Apostles Peter and Paul, to the faithful believers throughout the ages, to Christian brothers and sisters around the world today and in your own hometown who have felt the truth of a changed heart and given all glory to God for his work on the cross.
May you be able to put yourself in the shoes of Mary and the other women who went to Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter morning, expecting to find a dead body, but instead saw an empty tomb and Jesus himself, alive and well, the ultimate conqueror of sin and death.
A Poem of Praise for Christ’s Resurrection
Charles Wesley, a famous 18th century minister and hymn writer, penned perhaps the most well-known Easter hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
The words of that hymn are worth pondering as we seek to celebrate Easter with renewed gratefulness for God’s work in Christ.
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” by Charles Wesley (1739)
Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the vict’ry won, Alleluia!
Jesus’ agony is o’er, Alleluia!
Darkness veils the earth no more, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Wherever you find yourself this Easter, however you are celebrating, may you feel the hope that Easter signifies: hope on a broad scale for all of humanity, hope for the mundane struggles of each human life, hope for those whose pasts are clearly riddled with sin, hope for repentant Pharisees, hope that opens like tiny spring buds in every heart that receives Christ.
May you notice this Easter how winter is once again being swallowed up by spring as Christ swallowed up death and the grave.
May you be an Easter man or woman—someone who proclaims that “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”
A Prayer for Easter Sunday
Thank you for Easter Sunday and all it means! Thank you for sending Jesus to earth to become a human and to die the death that I deserve to pay the price for my sin. Most of all, thank you for the good news of the resurrection!
Allow me to rejoice in Christ’s victory over death anew this Easter. And not just on Easter; let me feel and know the truth of Christ’s resurrection every day. I pray that I would be reminded that Christians are “resurrection people”--we have an everlasting hope. We know that one day, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, you will also raise us to eternal life, body and soul.
Thank you for the joy of the empty tomb. I rest in the truth that you have overcome death and are making all things new. I am reminded of this by the evidence of new life and spring all around me like the beautiful daffodils and budding blossoms you created.
Let me spread the joy of this hope on this Easter Sunday and every day.
In Jesus’ name,
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/dndavis
Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.
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