Easter 2: Sunday Scriptures & Sermon Questions

Eastertide at Ascension
Sacred Fire Preaching Series

Weekly devotional resource is available here.

Sermon questions:

Acts 3:12-26
1. In this passage Peter seems to be somewhat different from the Peter we usually encounter in the gospels – what has happened to him that gives him the boldness to talk about Jesus (and act in Jesus’ name) in public?
2. What is the connection between the resurrection of Jesus and the healing of the lame man (see his story in Acts 3:1-11)?
3. Jesus is given a number of interesting ‘titles’ in this passage: vv.13 & 26-  servant/son (the word used can be translated both ways); v.14 – Holy and Righteous One; v.15 – Author of life; v.20 – Christ; v.22 – prophet. What do you think these terms would have meant to Peter’s first listeners? Some of these words are only rarely used by Christians today – why do you think that is?
4. There seem to be several promises made to those who ‘repent and return’ (v.19). The first seems clear enough – repentance leads to sins being erased. What do you make of the other two: 1. that ‘times of refreshing from the Lord’s presence’ will come and 2. that God will send the Christ?

11am Choir Rehearsal

10am Easter Vigil Rehearsal

Church Closed for Easter Monday

8am Easter Sunrise Breakfast

All welcome to breakfast after the 6am Easter Vigil!

6am Easter Vigil

The first service of Easter Day begins with darkness and includes the singing of the Exsultet, or Song of Praise, over the year’s Easter Candle, the passing of the Light of Easter, scripture, silence, Holy Baptism and the first Eucharist of Easter! Please remember to bring your bells to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord! Childcare is not provided at the Vigil.

“I got me flowers to straw Thy way; I got me boughs off many a tree:

But Thou wast up by break of day, and brought’st Thy sweets along with Thee….”

So writes George Herbert in his 17th century poem “Easter”, and so have I long thought of what it is like to journey toward our church in the cold darkness of pre-dawn on Easter morning, looking forward to the Easter Vigil worship. Like the women who journeyed to the tomb on that first Easter morning, longing to do something for Jesus, we find, as we arrive, that he is there before us, greeting us with his deep love and empowering us to worship him.

The Easter Vigil service is probably the most ancient of the services celebrated during Holy Week – traces of it are found as early as the 2nd century. While many churches celebrate it on Saturday night, others, like Ascension, have a tradition of holding their Vigil services beginning before sunrise. Just as all of Lent has been a journey from ashes to alleluias, so is the Easter Vigil a mini-journey from tomb to garden, from darkness to light, from the Fall to the Resurrection and new life through baptism. It is also a “short watch”: in a Maundy Thursday gospel reading we heard Jesus ask his disciples “could you not watch with me one hour?” – and so now we keep Vigil, sitting in the darkness, waiting for the lighting of the Easter Candle, waiting for the dawn, waiting for the first Eucharist of Easter.

So we arrive in a very dimly lit, almost dark church and sit for a bit in the darkness, remembering the darkness we encountered on Maundy Thursday when all light was extinguished in a bare, stripped down room. And then the Easter Candle is lit at the back of the church! Amazing how the single light – representing the light of Christ, can bring light into a dark place! As the procession moves slowly down the aisle to the front, the Celebrant chants “The Light of Christ” and we respond “Thanks be to God” and what I call “the dance of light” begins as torch bearers light the candles of the congregation, crisscrossing back and forth, revealing more and more of Christ’s Body as the candle light fills the room.

When the procession arrives at the front the Celebrant sings one of the Church’s most ancient chants, the Exsultet, originating possibly as early as the 5th century. With glorious poetry, it speaks of the “holiness of this night” when earth and heaven are joined and we are reconciled to God – when, to redeem a slave, God gave a son.

From this singing we move into hearing the story of our Redemption with readings about the Fall, the crossing of Israel over the Red Sea and the defeat of the Egyptian army and other parts of our Story. And we sing songs in the darkness and pray short prayers, and while all this is happening the sun is rising, ever so slowly filling the room with God’s light.

Then baptisms are performed and we all renew our baptismal vows – and then there is a hush in the candle-lit darkness ‘till the celebrant cries “Alleluia! Christ is risen” and as we shout “The Lord is risen indeed”! all the lights in the church come on and bells are rung and we sing our way into the first Eucharist of Easter.

“You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

Therefore, my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

 

 

 

 

 

12:30pm Lunch with Jonathan and Andrea Millard

This will be Canon Jonathan Millard’s last Sunday with us until he returns from his sabbatical leave in mid-August. Please join Jonathan and his wife Andrea for lunch in the New Catacombs following the 11am service. They will speak for about 30 minutes on their plans and hopes for this sabbatical leave. All are welcome. Lunch is by donation.

12:30pm Lay Eucharistic Minister Training and Refresher

Join Canon Jonathan Millard for a training on how to become a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). LEMs take communion to those who are in the hospital, in nursing homes or perhaps at home for extended times. We would love to have more folks on this team. If you are already an LEM and want a refresher, you are welcome as well. For more information, please email marilyn.chislaghi@ascensionpittsburgh.org.

6:30pm Financial Peace University

Do you have any of these concerns about your finances?

  • The balances on the credit cards are growing
  • Student loan debt feels crippling
  • Every time you start to get some traction with the finances, an emergency comes along and knocks you down again
  • You know you should be saving for your kids’ education, but you don’t know how to get started
  • You want to plan for the future, but you never seem to have any money left when all the bills are paid
  • You feel that you aren’t free to do the things that God has planned for you because you are weighed down by money problems

Ascension will offer Financial Peace University (FPU) beginning this April. FPU is a course that provides tremendous help and guidance with household finances. Those who have taken the course have come to understand budgeting, saving, insurance, mortgages, retirement, college planning, investing, giving and other practical financial matters with excellent results. Some members of our own congregation have dug out of significant and debilitating debt by practicing the principles taught in the course.

Course facilitators: Kelsey and Aaron Sams

Course dates: Eight sessions on Friday evenings from April 6 through May 25

Time: 6:30 to 9pm

Childcare: Childcare will be provided for Infants through 5th grade

Questions?  Feel free to contact Aaron at chemicalsams@gmail.com or Kelsey at kelseysams@gmail.com.

Registration: Please sign up by March 25th at www.ascensionpittsburgh.org.

Course Fee: No payment is required, however the recommended donation is $100 to cover the cost of the course kit (one kit needed per household).

6:30pm How We Love Marriage Enrichment Course

Marriage is hard and we need each other.  This course, which will run for 7 weeks, is an opportunity to press into the challenges of our marriages together, and grow in learning how to love well.

 

Designed by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, How We Love looks at marital patterns through the lenses of Attachment Theory, a theory that suggests that our relational styles are formed (for good or for ill) through our early life experiences.  This course looks at how these styles impact our marriages, and offers insights and practices to help shift unhealthy patterns and grow in intimacy.

As the Yerkovich’s put it: “For 14 years, our marriage was stuck in the same old frustrating patterns.  When we looked at our first lessons in love from our families, we immediately recognized the unseen forces governing how we loved.  For the first time, we understood the source of our frustrations and why we were stuck.  Deep change was possible at last. The insight we offer comes from making many mistakes, and years of praying for wisdom.  Our prayer is that soon you will discover what we have—the relief that comes from resolution, deep understanding and comfort.”  –Milan and Kay Yerkovich

Course facilitators: Jim and Mari Stout

Course dates: Friday evenings from April 6 through May 25 (will not meet on May 18).

Time: 6:30 to 9pm

Childcare: Childcare will be provided for Infants through 5th grade

Questions?  Feel free to contact Mari: macstout@gmail.com or Jim: jmstouts@gmail.com

Registration: Please sign up by March 25th at www.ascensionpittsburgh.org. Due to the nature of the material, this course will be limited to 20 couples, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Course Fee: No payment is required, however the recommended donation is $10 to cover the cost of the course kit (one kit needed per household).

 

 

 


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