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Easter B 2nd Reading

In I Corinthians 15 Paul testifies to the victory of Easter. Beginning in verses 1-2, he reminds his readers of the gospel he has preached in which they stand and are being saved. He then turns to the theme of Christianity and Easter, the resurrection. In verses 3-11, we find him supporting his claim of belief in the resurrection with reason, tradition, scripture, and experience. Reason we find laced throughout this passage in his discussion of the other three. He shares what has been handed down to him, found in scripture and corroborated through personal experience.

First, Paul describes the process of tradition in verse 3: “For I handed on to you as of first importance that what I in turn had received.” The word for “handed on” has multiple meanings. In this passage the word is understood to refer to tradition or something given to Paul. He is referring to the gospel being passed down to him. However, in Matthew 10:4 the word can mean “handed over” or betrayal. Here and in other scriptures, Jesus is said to have been handed over to his persecutors for trial and ultimate death. Sometimes there can be a fine line between handing down the tradition and denying the faith. Of course what is shared in tradition could be either good or bad. Paul does warn them in verse two that they must hold on to their faith or their belief is in vain.

We live in a world of competing traditions between Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Muslim. Traditions shape our understanding of the gospel, including the meaning of Easter and in some instances when and how we celebrate Easter. In March 1736, John Wesley arrived in Savannah, Georgia, by boat from England. Three weeks later he celebrated Easter on March 21 with 15 communicants. However, if Wesley had been a Catholic he would have celebrated Easter on April 1 because at that time these Christian traditions followed two different calendars. Later in the century, Great Britain stopped seeing the Gregorian calendar as a Popish plot and adopted it, hence bringing unity to the date when Easter would be celebrated. Paul lays out how tradition shapes us. We share what has been handed down to us. We can only hand over what we have received. Easter is always a good time to think about those who have nurtured us into the faith. Take time to thank them. We should also consider who we might mentor. Is it a family member? Is it a co-worker? This has been an especially good year for our