The Paschal Greeting
It is an Easter custom among most church traditions of the world to greet one another in a new way during Easter. Instead of the usual greetings, one is to greet another Christian with “Christ is Risen!” and he responds, “He is Risen indeed!”(cf Matt. 27:64; 28:6–7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, 34). This is called Paschal Greeting.
The Paschal greeting proclaims the message of Easter and its celebration. The Resurrection of Christ is not just about His coming back to life. It is about the death of death. It is an occasion for rejoicing and praising God. The response: “He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” is a confirmation and celebration of the declaration that Christ is risen. The resurrection of Christ is not a matter of news just to be heard, but also to be experienced. The response is like one saying: “Yes, I know. I have encountered the Risen Lord. He is truly alive. I share in His life. Praise God.
Easter Is Proclaiming The Risen Lord And Sharing In The Risen Life
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historic event that can be attested to by His “empty tomb”, His Resurrection appearances and the transformation of the disciples, among others. However, the Easter celebration is not about the Resurrection explanation and proof, but its proclamation and partaking. It is not just about a commemoration of resurrection to life, but its experience.
The earliest reference to the Resurrection is Saint Paul’s, and he makes no mention of an empty tomb at all. But the fact of the matter is that in a way it hardly matters how the body of Jesus came to be missing because in the last analysis what convinced the people that he had risen from the dead was not the absence of his corpse but his living presence. And so it has been ever since. (From The Faces of Jesus by Frederick Buechner).
The empty tomb story remains very strong physical evidence that Christ is risen. But it is the post-resurrection appearances that give greater conviction and evoke spiritual faith. Lives were clearly transformed. A person like Paul, who had persecuted Christians, became a zealous apostle (Acts 9:1-22 and 1 Corinthians). A fearful fisherman like Peter abandoned his nets to preach the gospel (John 21). A doubter like Thomas confessed and believed, calling Jesus “my Lord and my God” (20:24-28). And two weary travellers to Emmaus found the energy to return quickly to Jerusalem and share the news about their encounter with the risen Jesus (Luke 24:13-35). The Risen Christ touched and touches/transformed and transforms lives.
The Cardinality Of Easter
Easter Day is a particular Sunday of the year marked out for commemoration and celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. However, every other Sunday is actually Easter as well. This is because the Christian worship on Sunday is in commemoration and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and has been so observed since the first century.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. https://ibrucentre.org