The Easter Season

I hope you had a glorious Easter.  I also hope that your joy in Christ’s resurrection continues.  Easter is not just a day but a season, as we now remember the days that the risen Christ spent with His disciples.  That was a period of 40 days until His Ascension, but the Easter season goes on for 50 days until we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Of course, every Sunday recalls Christ’s resurrection, and Jesus  promises to be with us “always” (Matthew 28:20).  But for now, let’s keep Easter going.

If you had any epiphanies, sudden realizations, new insights, or really good sermons or services yesterday, tell us about them here.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Yesterday, I read the Baptismal Booklet at the end of the Small Catechism in the Book of Concord, and learned that infant baptism is, in part, an exorcism.

    11) The baptizer shall say: “Depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit.”

    15) “I adjure you, you unclean spirit, in the name of the Father (+) and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit (+), that you come out of and depart from this servant of Jesus Christ, (name). Amen.”

    Maybe I just haven’t paid close attention, but I can’t remember hearing these words spoken at infant baptisms. Do we Lutherans still exorcise?

  • Tom Hering

    Yesterday, I read the Baptismal Booklet at the end of the Small Catechism in the Book of Concord, and learned that infant baptism is, in part, an exorcism.

    11) The baptizer shall say: “Depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit.”

    15) “I adjure you, you unclean spirit, in the name of the Father (+) and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit (+), that you come out of and depart from this servant of Jesus Christ, (name). Amen.”

    Maybe I just haven’t paid close attention, but I can’t remember hearing these words spoken at infant baptisms. Do we Lutherans still exorcise?

  • Dan Kempin

    I actually had a new insight this year that I shared in the easter sermon. I was working on the text from Isaiah 25, which is the imagery of the great feast, culminating in that great statement, “he will swallow up death, forever.”* I came across the insight in the text of John Chrysostom’s “hieraticon,” where he said,

    ” He that was taken by death has annihilated it! . . .
    It took a body and came upon God!
    It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
    It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!”

    This called to mind the concept of a predator becoming the prey. Death is the ultimate predator. On good friday, death took Jesus, but on easter morning, Jesus took death.

    Anyway, that was new for me, though perhaps not to others. Thanks, John Chrysostom.

    For what it is worth, the sermon audio can be found here:
    http://www.sjlmidland.org/

    *btw, that text appears only twice in the three year lectionary, and separated by only a few months. What was the lectionary committee thinking?

  • Dan Kempin

    I actually had a new insight this year that I shared in the easter sermon. I was working on the text from Isaiah 25, which is the imagery of the great feast, culminating in that great statement, “he will swallow up death, forever.”* I came across the insight in the text of John Chrysostom’s “hieraticon,” where he said,

    ” He that was taken by death has annihilated it! . . .
    It took a body and came upon God!
    It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
    It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!”

    This called to mind the concept of a predator becoming the prey. Death is the ultimate predator. On good friday, death took Jesus, but on easter morning, Jesus took death.

    Anyway, that was new for me, though perhaps not to others. Thanks, John Chrysostom.

    For what it is worth, the sermon audio can be found here:
    http://www.sjlmidland.org/

    *btw, that text appears only twice in the three year lectionary, and separated by only a few months. What was the lectionary committee thinking?

  • Trey

    @Tom

    The baptismal right is an exorcism in the sense that from our conception we were enemies of God due to inborn sin. The natural man cannot understand the things of God (1Cor.2:14) We would not say they were demon possessed. It was quite clear in the New Testament when one was overtaken by a demon.

  • Trey

    @Tom

    The baptismal right is an exorcism in the sense that from our conception we were enemies of God due to inborn sin. The natural man cannot understand the things of God (1Cor.2:14) We would not say they were demon possessed. It was quite clear in the New Testament when one was overtaken by a demon.

  • Denton White

    The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is the resurrected Great High Priest who distributes the gifts of His sacrifice through the means of grace He gives to the Church and works in, through and with them to save.

  • Denton White

    The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is the resurrected Great High Priest who distributes the gifts of His sacrifice through the means of grace He gives to the Church and works in, through and with them to save.

  • Tom Hering
  • Tom Hering
  • Beatrix

    Regarding comment #1, our pastor speaks both of those lines during infant baptism, and I’ve always found them authoritative and comforting. Is it, though, technically, an exorcism?

  • Beatrix

    Regarding comment #1, our pastor speaks both of those lines during infant baptism, and I’ve always found them authoritative and comforting. Is it, though, technically, an exorcism?

  • Jack

    We had a simple, beautiful sunrise service, breakfast, then The Divine Service, filled with outstanding music!

    Most important, the Means of Grace were properly dispensed through Word and Sacrament. How wonderful for the sheep and lambs of our flock!

    Our flock is blessed to be properly tended by our called shepherd.

  • Jack

    We had a simple, beautiful sunrise service, breakfast, then The Divine Service, filled with outstanding music!

    Most important, the Means of Grace were properly dispensed through Word and Sacrament. How wonderful for the sheep and lambs of our flock!

    Our flock is blessed to be properly tended by our called shepherd.

  • http://alexmurashko.com Alex Murashko (@AlexMurashko)

    Thank you! Re-posted at The Resurrection Project Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/theresurrectionprojectmovie

  • http://alexmurashko.com Alex Murashko (@AlexMurashko)

    Thank you! Re-posted at The Resurrection Project Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/theresurrectionprojectmovie

  • Tom Hering

    “Is it, though, technically, an exorcism?” – @ 6.

    Beatrix, I’m continuing to study the topic today, and here’s what I’ve learned so far. Baptismal exorcism was long the common practice of the Church, from early times. Adult catachumens, coming to Christ from pagan religions, underwent a separate rite of exorcism before the rite of Baptism. Excorcism was incorporated into the rite of Baptism in the case of infants.

    The purpose, in the case of both adults and infants, was not to deal with possession, but rather to remove impediments to regeneration, i.e., Satan’s power over the unregenerate person, as well as the demons who trouble unregenerate persons.

    Excorcism doesn’t save, so it’s a “sacramental” and not a Sacrament.

    Baptismal exorcism was continued in the Lutheran churches after the Reformation. Not only for its own sake, but to counter Calvinist influences, i.e., “baptism is only an outward sign,” “baptism is of no effect,” “the children of believers are born in a state of Grace,” etc.

  • Tom Hering

    “Is it, though, technically, an exorcism?” – @ 6.

    Beatrix, I’m continuing to study the topic today, and here’s what I’ve learned so far. Baptismal exorcism was long the common practice of the Church, from early times. Adult catachumens, coming to Christ from pagan religions, underwent a separate rite of exorcism before the rite of Baptism. Excorcism was incorporated into the rite of Baptism in the case of infants.

    The purpose, in the case of both adults and infants, was not to deal with possession, but rather to remove impediments to regeneration, i.e., Satan’s power over the unregenerate person, as well as the demons who trouble unregenerate persons.

    Excorcism doesn’t save, so it’s a “sacramental” and not a Sacrament.

    Baptismal exorcism was continued in the Lutheran churches after the Reformation. Not only for its own sake, but to counter Calvinist influences, i.e., “baptism is only an outward sign,” “baptism is of no effect,” “the children of believers are born in a state of Grace,” etc.

  • mikeb

    Tom @ 1, 9 et Al:

    Our pastor tells a story about a time after Luther’s death when the church was being influenced by outside elements. The state had made the “baptism exorcism” rite illegal and it wasn’t performed anymore, at least not in public. Well, this young father, a butcher by trade, brought his newborn to be baptized, demanding the child be baptized using the traditional rite, even brandishing his meat cleaver to get his way. Wow!

    I’m told this traditional rite is in the altar book that accompanies the LSB, though it’s not in the pew hymnals. Any pastors out there that can vouch for this?

  • mikeb

    Tom @ 1, 9 et Al:

    Our pastor tells a story about a time after Luther’s death when the church was being influenced by outside elements. The state had made the “baptism exorcism” rite illegal and it wasn’t performed anymore, at least not in public. Well, this young father, a butcher by trade, brought his newborn to be baptized, demanding the child be baptized using the traditional rite, even brandishing his meat cleaver to get his way. Wow!

    I’m told this traditional rite is in the altar book that accompanies the LSB, though it’s not in the pew hymnals. Any pastors out there that can vouch for this?

  • Tom Hering

    I hope the father didn’t have circumcision on his mind. Yowee!

  • Tom Hering

    I hope the father didn’t have circumcision on his mind. Yowee!

  • Katie

    This excerpt from my paster on Easter morning was insightful and powerfully demonstrates the Good Friday – Easter connection. Thank you for giving an opportunity to share a part of this good sermon here, Dr. Veith!

    “Well we made it! We made it to Easter! The journey here started with Ash Wednesday, where we considered our great sinfulness, and because of that sinfulness, we shall return to ashes in the ground. So in sorrow we repented of our sins, and looked to the cross of Christ. We continued each week, the themes continued, our sin and Christ’s cross, the effects of our sin on us and the effects of Christ’s cross, the Law that accuses us of our sins and the cross that forgives our sins, and we applied these Scriptural themes to ourselves through beggarly repentance of our sins and the reception of the cross’s absolution.

    For all involved, it was in a way a difficult journey, because in order to fully understand Christ on the cross and its benefits, we must fess up to our sins. We must understand our helplessness and our need for God’s deliverance.

    But now that Good Friday is past and Easter is here does that mean that the shameful cross is behind us?

    The three dark hours of the cross, the bloody suffering, the agony and death. What a wretched picture! It makes us uncomfortable. Those of you at the Good Friday service hammered the nail into the cross as you left. In doing this, you confessed your sinfulness, that they were there nailed to the cross in Christ. The blood shed there cancelling out your guilt.

    Isn’t a Christless cross better? It’s not so offensive. It’s not so messy and ugly. It’s not so vivid of a reminder of the sacrifice needed for our sins. Maybe that’s why most of the cross jewelry that you see on Christians and hypocrites alike are Christless. Anyway, can we put all that behind us? Today is Easter. The crucifixion of Christ is history, now we talk only about the resurrected Christ. Right? No more talk about blood. No more talk about sacrifice. No more talk about death. No more talk about the crucified Christ.

    But wait a minute! We look at the first Easter sermon in our Gospel reading today. The angel said, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.” Couldn’t he have just skipped the part of Jesus’ crucifixion and just told them that He is risen?

    Christ’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, wrote to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Co 2:2) and also “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Co 15:3-4). And what more, John in His vision of heaven, sees the company of heaven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”

    We’re not getting away from Good Friday are we? We’re not putting the sacrifice for our sins behind us are we? No we’re not, because Christ’s resurrection points us back to Good Friday!

    The empty tomb on Easter morning says that the Jesus’ bitter suffering and death on the cross on Good Friday was the victorious battle! The empty tomb on Easter morning is the Father’s answer to Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished.” The Father answers, “Yes it is! It is finished. There is no more suffering that I require from My Son. Your redemption price has been paid, My anger over your sins is satisfied. My Lamb whom I have sent has taken all the sins of the world away. And Your enemies of sin, death and the devil have been defeated!”

    What wonderful news! Our enemies of sin, death and the devil had their grasp on us. We had no power over them. But when Jesus became our brother in the flesh, He made our dreadful enemies His enemies.

    And the battle came to a head on Good Friday.”

    If so interested, you can read the rest here: http://www.kingofgracelutheran.org/home/180004190/180004190/Images/Easter%202012%20Sermon.pdf
    (link taken from http://www.kingofgracelutheran.org)

    A blessed Easter to all!!

  • Katie

    This excerpt from my paster on Easter morning was insightful and powerfully demonstrates the Good Friday – Easter connection. Thank you for giving an opportunity to share a part of this good sermon here, Dr. Veith!

    “Well we made it! We made it to Easter! The journey here started with Ash Wednesday, where we considered our great sinfulness, and because of that sinfulness, we shall return to ashes in the ground. So in sorrow we repented of our sins, and looked to the cross of Christ. We continued each week, the themes continued, our sin and Christ’s cross, the effects of our sin on us and the effects of Christ’s cross, the Law that accuses us of our sins and the cross that forgives our sins, and we applied these Scriptural themes to ourselves through beggarly repentance of our sins and the reception of the cross’s absolution.

    For all involved, it was in a way a difficult journey, because in order to fully understand Christ on the cross and its benefits, we must fess up to our sins. We must understand our helplessness and our need for God’s deliverance.

    But now that Good Friday is past and Easter is here does that mean that the shameful cross is behind us?

    The three dark hours of the cross, the bloody suffering, the agony and death. What a wretched picture! It makes us uncomfortable. Those of you at the Good Friday service hammered the nail into the cross as you left. In doing this, you confessed your sinfulness, that they were there nailed to the cross in Christ. The blood shed there cancelling out your guilt.

    Isn’t a Christless cross better? It’s not so offensive. It’s not so messy and ugly. It’s not so vivid of a reminder of the sacrifice needed for our sins. Maybe that’s why most of the cross jewelry that you see on Christians and hypocrites alike are Christless. Anyway, can we put all that behind us? Today is Easter. The crucifixion of Christ is history, now we talk only about the resurrected Christ. Right? No more talk about blood. No more talk about sacrifice. No more talk about death. No more talk about the crucified Christ.

    But wait a minute! We look at the first Easter sermon in our Gospel reading today. The angel said, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.” Couldn’t he have just skipped the part of Jesus’ crucifixion and just told them that He is risen?

    Christ’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, wrote to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Co 2:2) and also “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Co 15:3-4). And what more, John in His vision of heaven, sees the company of heaven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”

    We’re not getting away from Good Friday are we? We’re not putting the sacrifice for our sins behind us are we? No we’re not, because Christ’s resurrection points us back to Good Friday!

    The empty tomb on Easter morning says that the Jesus’ bitter suffering and death on the cross on Good Friday was the victorious battle! The empty tomb on Easter morning is the Father’s answer to Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished.” The Father answers, “Yes it is! It is finished. There is no more suffering that I require from My Son. Your redemption price has been paid, My anger over your sins is satisfied. My Lamb whom I have sent has taken all the sins of the world away. And Your enemies of sin, death and the devil have been defeated!”

    What wonderful news! Our enemies of sin, death and the devil had their grasp on us. We had no power over them. But when Jesus became our brother in the flesh, He made our dreadful enemies His enemies.

    And the battle came to a head on Good Friday.”

    If so interested, you can read the rest here: http://www.kingofgracelutheran.org/home/180004190/180004190/Images/Easter%202012%20Sermon.pdf
    (link taken from http://www.kingofgracelutheran.org)

    A blessed Easter to all!!

  • Katie

    Of course there would be a typo in the first sentence….. I definitely meant “pastor”… So embarassing….

  • Katie

    Of course there would be a typo in the first sentence….. I definitely meant “pastor”… So embarassing….

  • Fr Gregory Hogg

    FWIW, I was a doctrinal reviewer for the current Lutheran Hymnal. I was sent the baptismal rite to review, and failed it because it omitted the exorcism. My reasoning was that since Luther’s baptismal rite was included in some editions of the Book of Concord, it should be considered normative for Lutheran baptismal practice. My argument was overruled by higher-ups, who stated that Luther’s baptismal rite could not be considered normative for Lutherans. The pastor’s book now has the exorcism as an option, but the pew version does not. (All Orthodox baptisms have an extensive exorcism, both for the person baptized and for the water.)

  • Fr Gregory Hogg

    FWIW, I was a doctrinal reviewer for the current Lutheran Hymnal. I was sent the baptismal rite to review, and failed it because it omitted the exorcism. My reasoning was that since Luther’s baptismal rite was included in some editions of the Book of Concord, it should be considered normative for Lutheran baptismal practice. My argument was overruled by higher-ups, who stated that Luther’s baptismal rite could not be considered normative for Lutherans. The pastor’s book now has the exorcism as an option, but the pew version does not. (All Orthodox baptisms have an extensive exorcism, both for the person baptized and for the water.)

  • Beatrix

    Father Hogg, why didn’t they think that Luther’s rite should be the standard? Our pastor always uses it and, as all of my children were baptized there, I didn’t realize that its use was unusual!

  • Beatrix

    Father Hogg, why didn’t they think that Luther’s rite should be the standard? Our pastor always uses it and, as all of my children were baptized there, I didn’t realize that its use was unusual!

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Beatrix,

    You ask a great question. Of course, it’s not just Luther’s rite, it was, at least as concerns the exorcism, the rite of Christendom from earliest days. But so is the teaching of the harrowing of hell, which LCMS doctrinal review rejected in a ruling from 2001 or so. But for me, that’s all in the rear view mirror now.

    Blessed Easter to you and yours!

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Beatrix,

    You ask a great question. Of course, it’s not just Luther’s rite, it was, at least as concerns the exorcism, the rite of Christendom from earliest days. But so is the teaching of the harrowing of hell, which LCMS doctrinal review rejected in a ruling from 2001 or so. But for me, that’s all in the rear view mirror now.

    Blessed Easter to you and yours!

  • Tom Hering

    Beatrix @ 15.

    Luther’s Small Catechism was first printed in book form in 1529, with a new preface by Luther. The printer added Luther’s Marriage Booklet and Baptismal Booklet as appendices. The latter is Luther’s translation (1523, revised 1526) of the Catholic baptismal rite. The appendices also appeared in subsequent printings of the Small Catechism. (So we can assume Luther’s approval?)

    Most early editions of the Book of Concord didn’t include the booklets as part of the Small Catechism. The Marriage Booklet, with its fixed form of ceremony, was probably left out because Lutheran churches accepted a wide variety of ceremonies. The Baptismal Booklet was probably left out for the same reason, plus objections from some that the exorcism was “papist.” The influence of Reformed theologians on some early Lutherans may have played a part. (The early Lutherans debated the nature of baptism.)

    All English-language editions of the Book of Concord leave out the booklets except for Kolb/Wengert (2000).

    One could argue that Luther’s translation of the Catholic rite isn’t normative – if one’s argument is based on the theological reasons it’s absent from the majority of Book of Concord texts (early and late – German, Latin, and English). But one could also argue that those texts reflect a theological compromise in Lutheranism – and the few early texts which included them are more authentic.

    So, a pastor who’s denomination allows him the option of performing baptismal exorcism isn’t doing anything wrong by performing it – he’s just doing something uncommon. (At least in American Lutheranism. I wonder what the situation is in the rest of the world.)

  • Tom Hering

    Beatrix @ 15.

    Luther’s Small Catechism was first printed in book form in 1529, with a new preface by Luther. The printer added Luther’s Marriage Booklet and Baptismal Booklet as appendices. The latter is Luther’s translation (1523, revised 1526) of the Catholic baptismal rite. The appendices also appeared in subsequent printings of the Small Catechism. (So we can assume Luther’s approval?)

    Most early editions of the Book of Concord didn’t include the booklets as part of the Small Catechism. The Marriage Booklet, with its fixed form of ceremony, was probably left out because Lutheran churches accepted a wide variety of ceremonies. The Baptismal Booklet was probably left out for the same reason, plus objections from some that the exorcism was “papist.” The influence of Reformed theologians on some early Lutherans may have played a part. (The early Lutherans debated the nature of baptism.)

    All English-language editions of the Book of Concord leave out the booklets except for Kolb/Wengert (2000).

    One could argue that Luther’s translation of the Catholic rite isn’t normative – if one’s argument is based on the theological reasons it’s absent from the majority of Book of Concord texts (early and late – German, Latin, and English). But one could also argue that those texts reflect a theological compromise in Lutheranism – and the few early texts which included them are more authentic.

    So, a pastor who’s denomination allows him the option of performing baptismal exorcism isn’t doing anything wrong by performing it – he’s just doing something uncommon. (At least in American Lutheranism. I wonder what the situation is in the rest of the world.)


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