Our Triumphant Holy Week


Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Many of our children don’t know this hymn and that breaks my heart. Growing up in the Lutheran Church, we sang “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” almost every Easter. Peter Paul Rubens - The Resurrection of ChristI used to love the ascending melody in the third line of each stanza. Our organist would pull out all the stops and my heart would thrill.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that the sign of the Church wasn’t the cross, but the empty tomb. Though he readily acknowledged the difficulty of rendering an empty tomb in jewelry.

Maybe that’s for the better, for as much as the symbol of the cross has been co-opted by pot-smoking, women-abusing, hip-hop artists; bed-hopping, clueless, Hollywood celebrities; Christians in name only who never got to the real cross; and the the inane, shallow world-at-large, no one’s done a good job transforming an empty tomb into bling.

And that’s good for us, because an empty tomb that defies secularization can still say, “He’s not there.” In fact, about the only place we can say the Lord is not is in that chamber of death. He’s risen. He’s risen indeed.

More so than Christmas, we Christians should find a way to turn the celebration of Christ’s resurrection into the party of all parties. We are people most pitied, Paul wrote, if Christ did not rise from the grave. But because He did, we’ve been granted an immeasurable gift. How can we not pull out all the stops on the organ? How can we not join up with friends and family and laugh, play, run, jump, and dance till we can barely catch our next breath? This is our day, the precursor of that final day. Our earthly celebration should resemble the one that is to come.

We somehow manage to take a week off for Christmas if we can, why not do the same for celebrating resurrection? They celebrated a wedding for seven days as we know from Jesus’ first miracle. Christ’s resurrection made us His Bride. So why not live up Easter for a week afterwards?

Instead, we’ll dress up nice for Sunday 9 AM and by 9 PM we’ll be dreading another week of work. We talk and talk about countercultural living, but when it comes to our high holy day, it’s twelve hours then back to the grind.

How I wish we would learn how to live! How awesome would it be to not let the world dictate how we celebrate our faith. I think the greatest impediment to revival in this country is our slavish devotion to systems rather than to Christ. The Holy Spirit could bust out and do miracles and we wouldn’t be able to tarry even a day because some system tells us we have such and such we MUST do. We’re important people. The world would stop if we did.

Bah, humbug!

Don’t you want to see our triumphant Holy Day go on and on?

{Image: Peter Paul Rubens – The Resurrection of Christ, 1612}

7 thoughts on “Our Triumphant Holy Week

  1. Or, instead of taking a day or week off to live in the reality of the resurrection of Christ, what if we lived in that reality in spite of going to work, going to school, dealing with difficulties, etc. My heart sang when I read your post… I want it to sing at all times, not just because it’s “Easter”. For me, every day should be Easter.


  2. I grew up Methodist, but when I was younger, we attended my grandmother’s Lutheran church every year on Easter–that hymn was (still is one of) my favorite! I always looked forward to singing it on Easter Sunday.

    The college chorale I sang in had a pretty powerful version of it that I also enjoyed, though the words are different than you post here. Not sure if you’d like it, but if you’re interested I can send you the mp3.

  3. Brandon

    I have the same issues with the way we Christians celebrate Christmas as I do with the way we designate one day for Easter. As Alan said, everyday should be Easter for the believer…I’ll add to that the thought that Jesus is the reason for every season, not just December. Great post…I too really like that hymn.

    He is risen…He is risen indeed!!

    Be blessed…

  4. Diane Roberts

    I like the part about the miracles. As you know Dan, I’m not a flaky Charismatic (more Pentecostal actually) but it would be amazing would it not, if a few churches were led for and succeeded in praying for, a dead person and they “woke up.” Now that would be some Easter!

  5. A couple of things you say resonate with me:

    “…we Christians should find a way to turn the celebration of Christ’s resurrection into the party of all parties.”

    “The Holy Spirit could bust out and do miracles and we wouldn’t be able to tarry even a day because some system tells us we have such and such we MUST do.”

    Whenever I hear or read descriptions of revivals, they are characterized by hilarious joy (after all the repentance) and the ability to break with the system once a glimpse of the awesomeness of God has given people a priority adjustment.

  6. Peyton

    Thanks, Dan, for the reminder. Hey, maybe you and I can gather a few of the “old timers” and sing some Easter hymns before the service Sunday! But I’ll sing whatever you folks up front lead in.

    In theory, the liturgical churches balance the 40 days of Lent with 50 days of Easter, up to and including Pentecost. In practice, Easter wears off rather quickly. It seems we humans are far better at grovelling and complaining than we are at celebrating.

    V. Alleluia. Christ is risen.
    R. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

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