Daily Archives: March 23, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Day Sermon

And so when we proclaim all this today, we as Christians are charged to address ourselves to two different sorts of delusion. On the one hand: we face a culture in which the thought of death is too painful to manage. Individuals live in anxious and acquisitive ways, seizing what they can to provide a security that is bound to dissolve, because they are going to die. Societies or nations do the same. Whether it is the individual grabbing the things of this world in just the repetitive, frustrating sameness that we have seen to be already in fact the mark of an inner deadness, or the greed of societies that assume there will always be enough to meet their desires – enough oil, enough power, enough territory – the same fantasy is at work. We shan’t really die – we as individuals can’t contemplate an end to our acquiring, and we as a culture can’t imagine that this civilization like all others will collapse and that what we take for granted about our comforts and luxuries simply can’t be sustained indefinitely. To all this, the Church says, somberly, don’t be deceived: night must fall.

On the other hand, this alone would only be to echo the not very helpful remark of John Maynard Keynes ”“ ‘In the long run, we are all dead’; not much of an Easter message! So the Church says: ‘We shall die, we shall have no choice but to let go of all we cling to, but God remains. God’s unshakeable love is untouched by death, and all we do and all we care about matters to him. He and he alone is free to make us afresh, to re-establish the world on the far side of every catastrophe.’

It isn’t so much that Christians say, ‘Death is not the end’. In an important sense, it is the end, and we must prepare for it as people of faith by daily seeking to let go of selfish, controlling, greedy habits, so that our naked souls are left face to face with the creating God. If we are prepared to accept in trust what Jesus proclaims, we can ask God for courage to embark on this path. We don’t hope for survival but for re-creation – because God is who he is, who he has shown himself to be in Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Easter Music

[KIM] LAWTON: At Maundy Thursday services, music helps set the mood as Christians begin their annual time of mourning the arrest, prosecution and crucifixion of Jesus.

Thomas Tyler is in charge of worship and music at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He says it’s spiritually important to sing the songs of grief before celebrating Christ’s resurrection.

Mr. TYLER: We want to skip over the sorrow. We want to skip over the abandonment and go get our praise on. But, if you don’t remember what he went through, then I feel your appreciation for the significance of that resurrection is marginalized.

Read it all or watch and listen to the video report.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Holy Week, Music, TEC Parishes

Anne Rice: My Trust in the Lord

We must return to Jesus Christ again and again, after our failures, and seek in Him — in His awesome majesty and power — the creative solutions to the problems we face. We must retain our commitment to Him, and our belief in a world in which, conceivably, human beings could lay down their arms, and stretch out their arms to one another, clasping hands, and bring about a total worldwide peace.

If this is not inconceivable, then it is possible. And perhaps we are, in our own broken and often blind fashion, moving towards such a moment. If we can conceive of it and dedicate ourselves to it, then this peace on earth, this peace in Christ, can come.

As we experience Easter week, we celebrate the crucifixion that changed the world. We celebrate the Resurrection that sent Christ’s apostles throughout the Roman Empire to declare the Good News. We celebrate one of the greatest love stories the world has ever known: that of a God who would come down here to live and breathe with us in a human body, who would experience human death for us, and then rise to remind us that He was, and is, both Human and Divine. We celebrate the greatest inversion the world has ever recorded: that of the Maker dying on a Roman cross.

Let us celebrate as well that throughout this troubled world in which we live, billions believe in this 2,000-year-old love story and in this great inversion — and billions seek to trust the Maker to bring us to one another in love as He brings us to Himself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology

The Archbishop of Melbourne's Easter Message

Watch it all and see what you think.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

The resurrected One himself encounters you in a living way as he who unites you with God

Some people have already tried to force themselves to believe in what the Bible reports of the resurrection of Jesus. But it was not so simple. Always doubt interfered; and then one thought that doubt-for example, scientific doubt in the possibility of such a miracle-was the basis of his inability to believe. That goes without saying. Some of the greatest scientists of all times have believed in the resurrection, just as an apostle of early Christianity. Perhaps you also belong to those who would like to believe, who would also like to have this hope of eternal life. But you say you cannot. I wish to tell you precisely why you cannot believe, and I also wish to tell you how you can believe. You cannot believe it because you are not reconciled to God, and you are not reconciled to God because you do not really wish to repent for your godlessness. All unbelief without any exception comes from this unwillingness to obey, from the unwillingness of sin that separates us from God. In the moment when you do that and sincerely acknowledge your sins, then you can also believe in the reconciliation; no, in this moment you are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and the truth of the Easter message is clear to you. Then you believe in the resurrection, not because it is reported by the apostles but because the resurrected One himself encounters you in a living way as he who unites you with God, as the living Mediator. Now you yourself know it: he lives he, the Reconciler and Redeemer.

And now the stories of Easter become alive to you, worthy of belief, for you now recognize in them him who encounters you yourself. Now you believe not only in Easter; now the Easter certainly is for you a living experience. Now you can say with the apostle: Blessed be the God who has begotten me anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Were Jesus not resurrected, how could he redeem and reconcile you? When he reconciles you to God, you have encountered him, the resurrected One, not bodily, as did the apostle, but not really any less so, through his Word and his Spirit. Now you already stand at the beginning of the new, eternal life. Now you know what the Lord means when he says: “He who believes in me has eternal life.” Upon that, everything therefore depends: being reconciled to God, forgiveness of sins, removal of the separation between you and God, joyful access to God, and peace with God through Jesus Christ who gives you on the cross the Father’s love and with it eternal life.

–Emil Brunner (1889-1966)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

What is and Isn't True on Easter

”˜One morning you will see in the newspapers “Moody is dead”. Don’t believe it! I shall never be so alive as I will be that morning’

”“D.L .Moody (1837-99)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Easter wings

LORD, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.
With thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day thy victorie:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Lorraine Murray: The most important promise ever made

And he will finally know what Easter is all about.

You see, Easter is not just about a delicious feast served up in the afternoon. It is not just about children hunting eggs as colorful as jewels. It is not just about baskets jampacked with chocolate bunnies.

At heart, Easter is about the most important promise ever made.

It is about Christ promising that he would rise from the dead in three days. And assuring his friends that if they believed in him, they would one day do the same.

At heart, Easter is about conquering death.

And isn’t that what we all long for? Not extending life with machines and drugs when the body is dwindling and the spirit is weary.

But living forever in a joyous place where there will be no sighing and no crying. And where death will be banished forever.

This is what draws people of all colors, shapes, sizes and ages to churches across town on Easter. This is why a hush falls over the crowd when the angel’s words at the empty tomb are proclaimed:

“He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that ”” pierced ”” died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike (1932- )

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

The Archbishop of Wales: Truth of Easter shines through its stories

In his sermon at Llandaff Cathedral on Easter Sunday, Dr Barry Morgan says, “There isn’t one story of Jesus in the New Testament but four, since each evangelist uses the events of Jesus’ life to make his own particular point. Nor do we have just one story of the appearance of Jesus after his resurrection, but many different stories. The Gospel writers emphasise different aspects of the significance of Jesus, so that the question to ask, is not did the events in these stories happen exactly in this way but what truths are they trying to convey?” Another important perspective we need in order to grasp the meaning of the stories is the historical one, he says.

“The New Testament has layers and layers of meaning ”“ it tries to convey truth through stories that are subtle, deep and many layered. Very often to understand them, you need to know something about the Jewish background against which they were written and also about the Old Testament.”

Dr Morgan takes St John’s story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus outside the tomb in the garden on the first day of the week after his resurrection to illustrate his point. It’s a story, he says, which can be read as a straight historical account ”“ Mary meets the risen Jesus. But its true significance is that God through Jesus reverses the fall of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis.

“Here in St John, Jesus is the new Adam. Here is a new creation. Here through the person of Jesus, men and women can be recreated, transformed, redeemed. In the person of the risen Jesus, God becomes close and familiar once more as he calls Mary by name. Whereas through the fall, humanity had become estranged from God, now in Jesus, God has drawn close. This story is also about the reversal of death. Jesus has burst through death to God’s new life. Mary mistakes him for the gardener and of course he is the gardener, but not in the sense Mary means it, but because He is the Creator of the garden ”“ referred to in Genesis.”Finally, he concludes, the stories need to be seen from the perspective of faith as well as reason.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Message

Good Friday’s coming up of course and I guess a lot of people will be remembering it’s ten years since the Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. And of course, for Christians Good Friday is supposed to be about peace agreements you might say, that’s why it means what it does to Christians. The stories Christians tell is about how the death of Jesus brought about peace between God and us ”“ because it shows we don’t have to be frightened of a god who can forgive the very worst we can do to him and to each other. And so it makes possible a new level of peace between human beings too. And that’s Something that took a good while for people in Northern Ireland who thought they were Christians to discover ”“ but they did at last.

It’s one way in which the original Good Friday story has actually come alive in our own time. When I think about what happened on the first Good Friday, I think about events that have brought it to life for me and others in my lifetime. Not only in Northern Ireland, but other places too.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

The Most Significant thing in our world today

This is the real meaning of Easter…

No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem. Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship. Thank God, we have an empty tomb.

The glorious fact that the empty tomb proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes. Death is not a wall, but a door. And eternal life which may be ours now, by faith in Christ, is not interrupted when the soul leaves the body, for we live on…and on.

There is no death to those who have entered into fellowship with him who emerged from the tomb. Because the resurrection is true it is the most significant thing in our world today. Bringing the resurrected Christ into our lives, individual and national, is the only hope we have for making a better world.

“Because I live ye shall live also.”

That is the real meaning of Easter.

–Peter Marshall (1902-1949), The First Easter

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Tim Drake: Easter Evidence

“The compelling evidence for me is the unanimous testimony of all the apostles and even a former persecutor like St. Paul,” said Brant Pitre, assistant professor of theology at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. “There was no debate in the first century over whether Jesus was resurrected or not.”

Scholars say that the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection are compelling for a variety of reasons.

“People will seldom die even for what they know to be true. Twelve men don’t give up their lives for a lie,” said Ray, who recently returned from France, where he was filming his “Footprints of God” series at the amphitheater in Lyon, the site of a persecution in A.D. 177. “The martyrs of Lyon underwent two days of torture and all they would say is, ”˜I am a Christian.’ They knew the resurrection was true and didn’t question it.”

Barber also highlighted the diversity of sources and how they include different details as well as passages that do not paint the disciples in the best light.

“In the Road to Emmaus story, they write that they didn’t recognize him,” said Barber. “Our Biblical accounts are our best evidence.”

Several of the scholars pointed to 1 Corinthians, where Paul states that Christ appeared to 500 people.

“Some want to shy away from the Gospels because they say they were written later,” explained Barber. “If you want to believe that they were written later, then why wouldn’t the Gospels have made use of this piece of evidence from 1 Corinthians?” asked Barber.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?

Sam believes that Gandalph has fallen a catastrophic distance and has died. But in the end of the story, with Sam having been asleep for a long while and then beginning to regain consciousness, Gandalf stands before Sam, robed in white, his face glistening in the sunlight, and says:

“Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?”

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

“A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from bed… “How do I feel?” he cried.” Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel” –he waved his arms in the air– “I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!”

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), The Return of the King

Update: The music which accompanies the arrival of the eagles in the movie that goes with the “Is everything sad going to come untrue” words in the movie is worth listening to also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

The Eucatastrophe

The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation ”” This story begins and ends in joy.

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week