SUNDAY, THE LORD’S DAY
(Sunday, June 18)
The Gospel-accounts of the Lord’s resurrection call Sunday by its Jewish name, “the first day (of the week).” As the first day of the week, Sunday in Christian tradition reflects the theology of Day One of creation, on which “the Spirit of God moved over the water,” God created light, and separated the darkness from the light.
The Christian understanding of Sunday, enlightened by the Lord’s emergence from the tomb on this day, enlightens also our understanding of the “one day” (hemera mia, LXX) at the beginning of creation. In the Book of Genesis it is not called “the first day” but “one day,” differently from the other days of creation, because there were as yet no other “days” and it stands alone, outside of any sequence and outside of any time. Hence early Christians called Sunday also “the eighth day,” as a day that signified eternity, as one that was beyond the seven-day week. For Christians, however, “the eighth day” was not only in the future; it breaks into the here and now of church-life, particularly in the sacraments, and particularly in the living memory of the Lord’s resurrection and enduring presence among us on Sundays.
Early Christians called Sunday The Lord’s Day (kyriake hemera) not primarily because the Lord rose from the dead on this day, but because Christians gathered as a community to celebrate The Lord’s Supper (kyriakon deipnon) on this day. It was the weekday when the risen Lord appeared to His disciples and broke bread or ate with them, – first, on the evening of the day of His resurrection, at Emmaus and then at the place where they were gathered, in the same room where He had accomplished His mystical or “last” supper with them (Luke 24:30–31; cf. John 20:19–23, and Mark 16:14); and a week later at that same place, when Thomas was with them (John 20:26–29). Sunday was also the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and others gathered with them in that same room, filling and henceforth empowering the gathered church with the presence of the Lord, in and by His Holy Spirit. And it is this that made the Sunday Eucharist what it is thereafter: the encounter with the risen Lord through the Spirit that He bestows.
Today let us take pause and exercise our gratitude-muscle, for this “One Day,” on which the Spirit of God “moved over the water,” and continues to “move” not only over us, but into us and through us, in the ongoing Pentecost that is the life of the Church. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad therein” (Ps 117/118:24).