Let's Celebrate Easter Well This Year!
Photo by Thanti Nguyen on Unsplash
Sunday is the First Day of the Week
This year’s Easter falls on the first Sunday of the month again; it is a rare and blessed occurrence. According to the Roman Calendar, Sunday is the Day of the Sun, and thus the first day of a week. This is consistent with the Jewish tradition of deeming this day as the first of the seven days of creation. God created light on the first day, He said “Let there be light”, and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness (Gen 1:3-4).
… Sunday is the Day of the Sun… the first of the seven days in a week. God created light on the first day, …
Saturday is The Last Day of a Week
God created all things in six days, and on the sixth day, He created man (male and female), in His image. This was His ultimate creation. His work of creation was then completed and God rested on the seventh day. For this reason, the Jews deemed the seventh day as the last day of the week. As stated in the Ten Commandments documented in the Five Books of Moses, the Israelites were instructed to mark this day of rest as a holy day and called it Sabbath. When the Romans colonised the Israelites in Palestine, they implemented the Roman Calendar and named the seventh day, Saturday (Latin: Sāturni, meaning Saturn).
God created all things in six days, … and God rested on the seventh day. … the last day of the week … the Israelites were instructed to mark this day of rest as a holy day and called it Sabbath.
Christians Gather on the First Day of the Week
It is recorded in the 4 Gospels (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1 and John 20:1) that Jesus rose from the dead very early on the first day of the week, at dawn. The first break of dawn was as depicted in Genesis when God first created light––that first ray of brightness that beamed across the deep abyss of darkness and illuminated the universe, chasing away the foreboding darkness. The first creation of Light! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has left the tomb, He has risen! From then on, Jesus’ disciples would habitually gather on the first day of the week––Sunday, to remember their Lord, whom they believed and followed, and to celebrate His resurrection and victory over death. In Acts 20:7, we learn that it has become a practice of the early church for the disciples and believers of Christ to meet and break bread on Sunday, the first day of the week.
Jesus rose from the dead very early on the first day of the week, at dawn. … From then on, Jesus’ disciples would habitually gather on the first day of the week—Sunday, to remember their Lord, whom they believed and followed, and to celebrate His resurrection and victory over death.
The Early Church held large baptism ceremonies on Easter
Looking at the New Testament church recorded in the book of Acts, believers are baptised and brought to receive the Holy Spirit whenever the Gospel is preached and received. We can see from the New Testament letters and literature that in the 300 years of church history, be it with the apostles Paul, Peter or James, or church fathers, there was active and earnest teaching of the faith following the baptism of believers in churches within Israel or other gentile locations, to provide comprehensive teaching and guidance in the faith. From the 4th Century, especially after the ban on Christianity was lifted, the Church systematically prepared catechumens for baptism and membership ceremonies. This period of preparation could last from several months to three years, with the most significant period being the few weeks leading up to Easter. Baptism ceremonies were usually held in the early morning of Easter, after which, those who had been baptised will be invited to join the church body in the Easter service held then, where they will also be formally welcomed into the body of Christ through the Holy Communion held after the liturgy of the Word.
… believers are baptised and brought to receive the Holy Spirit whenever the Gospel is preached and received. … there was active and earnest teaching of the faith following the baptism …
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that this year’s Easter falls on the first Sunday of the month, a rare and blessed day when the majority of our churches will observe Holy Communion. This makes this Easter Sunday an exceptionally befitting day for the preaching of Easter sermons, and to welcome newly baptised members to join in the Body of Christ as we observe Holy Communion.
(Note: Baptismal Ceremonies can be held before the Sunday church service, or even on the Saturday evening; the baptismal ceremony then need not be part of the Easter worship service.)
Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung