Happy 5th day of Easter! I have been reading up on the church calendar and, did you know, this Sunday coming, the 8th day of Easter, has at least different 8 names!
In Western Christianity it is often referred to as Low Sunday and I can understand that! After all the excitement and special celebrations of Easter Day, most churches and ministers (and choir directors!) are happy to take things a little more quietly on the Sunday after Easter.
Since 2000, the Catholic church refers to this Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday which seems very appropriate as we continue to reflect on God’s love and mercy poured out for us in Jesus. Or Easter Octave Day which marks the first eight days of Easter as a special time of joy and celebration. Or White Sunday as in times past those who were baptised on Easter Day would wear white for the eight days that followed! It is also called Quasimodo Sunday because of the first two Latin words in the introit for the day in Latin – quasi modo geniti infantes – based on 1 Peter 2:2; “Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation…”. (Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s novel receives this name because he was found abandoned on the doorsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral on the Sunday after Easter.)
In Eastern Christianity, this Sunday coming has three more names; Antipascha, meaning ‘in place of Easter’, New Sunday (or Renewal Sunday) and Thomas Sunday – because John 20:19-31 is often read on this day as Christians reflect on the story of Thomas for, verse 26 tells us, “A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.”
We won’t be reading John 20:19-31, however. We will be taking another look at Luke 24:13-35, the walk to Emmaus, and many of us will be going for a walk! If you are coming for Family Church – or if you are joining us for regular church but want to join the Guided Emmaus Walk during the sermon time – you are welcome to do so. Family Church will be gathering in the Hall, and after a quick warm-up, and an introduction to what is happening, the families will head out in groups of two or three (or more if necessary). Those of you in the service will also have an opportunity to join them – just before the sermon starts. (Please remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat – and maybe a jumper as it looks cool – and some water.) So – perhaps we should also call this ‘Road Trip Sunday’!
It’s also ‘Baptist Sunday!’ At 4pm on Sunday in the Lounge, Rev Dr Thorwald Lorenzen will be speaking about ‘Being a Baptist Today’. He is not addressing all the issues that led to the Special Assembly on the 27th February, but he is speaking about what a Baptist Christian identity means, which touches on the decisions that were made in February. I would strongly encourage everyone to be there! Please set an alarm in your calendar so you don’t forget – Sunday 11th April, 4pm – Baptist Sunday!
But perhaps Transformation Sunday might be the best name – as we allow the Easter story to become our story we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus, into the people of the kingdom of God! I have been enjoying this quote from –Beatrice Bruteau, The Easter Mysteries, this week.
Easter is about transformation. This transformation is symbolically, mythically, sacramentally, imaged as death/resurrection, in turn imaged as Baptism. We are trying to undergo the transformation by experiencing the sacramental power of these images. We are following Jesus as our archetype, as well as our teacher and our friend, the one who exemplifies the very transformation we are facing. He is also what is called in Greek the mystagogos, the mystagogue, the one who leads us into the mysteries, the one who initiates us into the secret, into that which is told with closed lips. And he is himself the Way into which he leads us, as he is the Life into which we are led.
He is himself the Way into which he leads us, as he is the Life into which we are led. Amen to that!
Rev Belinda Groves
Team Leader, Canberra Baptist Church