He Is Risen

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One Easter Sunday a few years ago, I worshipped with the Taizé Community in France. The prayer service began before daybreak with a young Brother making his vows in front of his community and hundreds of young people. It was very much akin to a marriage ceremony, only in this case this young man was giving his life to the service of his community. After his vows were made, prayers and music filled the large sanctuary followed by a eucharist. The worship was complete by the time the sun rose in the east. The Brothers of Taizé greeted one another and the people with the simple words “He Is Risen.” And it was said with the simplest of conviction and directness.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, many of my childhood memories of Easter Sunday began with a Sunday morning service filled with a seemingly long sermon and the eucharist. Afterward, we would all file out of the church, exchanging a handshake and a “Happy Easter” with the priest. A feast would follow the traditional Easter egg hunt. All of us kids would line up, ready for a race to the cemetery where some grownups had hidden colored eggs and candied treats. In reflection I am moved by how we celebrated Easter not only in our sanctuary but also in our cemetery. As I look back, I see that this yearly Easter egg hunt marked a time of significant and meaningful intersection of life, death, and resurrection.

As I became more aware of the church calendar and the liturgical practices of the Episcopal Church, I began moving away from the heavy marketing of Easter with bunnies, eggs, and chocolate to the real meaning and belief: the resurrection of Christ. In our prayer book I began to deeply appreciate those first words proclaimed by the celebrant from the beginning of the Easter Sunday service and all subsequent Sunday services through the first Sunday of Pentecost: “Alleluia. Christ is Risen.” Then the people respond, “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”

Sometimes change happens suddenly or it might drag on, but as I grow a little older, I find myself appreciating things that make my life less complicated. Today, since my time in Taizé, I have taken to using those simple words said to me at daybreak with the firmness of a deep abiding faith, “He is Risen!”

— Robert Two Bulls

Photo: Sunrise, Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

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