Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Peter 1:3).
New birth and a living hope–those are the themes of our Easter hymns:
Lives again our glorious King, alleluia!
Where, O death is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
–Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
There in the ground His body lay; Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ!
–In Christ Alone
Here are two more themes we’ll look at in our music this Resurrection Sunday morning: first, our foundation, and second, our response.
Christ’s resurrection is the very foundation of our faith. If Jesus was just a man, just a teacher, just someone with some good ideas, who died and is now dead, then as Paul says, “we are of all men the most pitiable.” But we come together on Resurrection Sunday to proclaim: Death cannot keep his prey. He tore the bars away! We serve a risen Savior! Here are Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15. First, his eyewitness account of the risen Lord:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
And then, the implications the resurrection holds for us:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
That’s the foundation of our faith. That’s why we can sing these words in one of the choir’s anthems:
Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the Head and Cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord and precious, binding all the Church in one.
Holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone;
Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the Head and Cornerstone.
–The Sure Foundation
That’s why we can join at our sunrise service to sing:
In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
–In Christ Alone
and follow with the chorus of The Solid Rock:
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
And finally, we’ll look at our response. In my April newsletter article, I ask the question: Now what? We’ve just been through Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter; we’ve covered the whole story of Jesus’ earthly life and His work of redemption. Now we have to ask ourselves: how do we respond?
The last verses of three of our songs in the Easter service give clear answers to that question. The choir will sing:
The Church who on Jesus have founded their faith
Must now rise with the dawning and face a new day;
Forsaking the evil of earth’s sinking sand.
Let us build upon Jesus and on that Rock we stand.
–The Sure Foundation
In The Man Who Calmed the Sea, we’ll sing:
Now I hear the call that echoes down through history:
“Come, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.
Through every joy and sorrow My grace is all you’ll need.
Trust Me in the storm, for I’m the man who calms the sea.”
No fear shall overwhelm me, for Lord, I do believe
You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.
I’ll trust You for tomorrow and seek You for today,
For You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.
And after we observe the Lord’s Supper, we’ll respond together:
And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King.
–The Communion Hymn
The more I look at our Easter music, the more excited I am to sing it! Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Please join us to celebrate and rejoice and worship our risen Redeemer.
In Christ Alone: words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. Copyright 2002 Thankyou Music (PRS). The Man Who Calmed the Sea: words and music by Gary Sadler and Stuart Townend. Copyright 2011 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Paintbrush Music. The Communion Hymn: words and music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend. Copyright 2006 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Mail Train Music.