Does “Resurrection” Need to be "Ceremonialized”?
By Rev Kin Tong Pun
April 9, 2023
I recently came across a term “ceremonialize.” It means adding a sense of ceremony to an everyday activity to make it meaningful, especially to make a certain day different from other days, or a certain moment different from other moments. From this perspective, if I were to answer the question “Does ‘resurrection’ need to be ceremonialized?” I would reply: “Both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”
Unlike liturgical churches, evangelical churches do not adopt the entire liturgical calendar. Nevertheless, most of them favor Easter. Under the influence of the Christian culture, Easter has led to some changes in civic life, creating some public holidays. This is why people in general are familiar with the term “Easter.” As an evangelical church, we should make good use of this festival to spread the gospel. It is because this date is different from others. Christians invariably want to keep this festival in civic life.
To believers, the resurrection of Christ is key to His saving grace. Paul has said: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). It is true that Christ must die before He can be raised. But on the other hand, if Christ died without resurrection, His death will be meaningless for the ultimate saving grace. Therefore, Lent does not ultimately prepare us for suffering (although we should imitate Christ’s suffering) but for the resurrection. We should experience Lent from the perspective of Easter. Not only is Easter different from other days, it is also different from other “festivals.”
We may notice that while the Bible conveys the truth about the resurrection, there is no mention of Easter as a festival. But this does not mean that the early church did not attach importance to the resurrection of Christ. On the contrary, they did so more than us. To them, every Sunday is the day of Christ’s resurrection because Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, so Sunday is called “the Lord’s day.” In the early church, the meaning of Christ’s resurrection was not only reflected in meetings on each of the Lord’s day but also in the lives of Christians. Paul said: “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). And “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (8:11).
Therefore, the meaning of Christ’s resurrection does not only add a sense of ceremony to our lives or let Christians establish a unique lifestyle. Rather, it is for us to live every day as someone who is raised from the dead. It is also a call on us to help unbelievers to establish this sense of ceremony so that Easter can become a bridge to the gospel.