Daily Archives: April 24, 2011

Truth and Fiction 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 History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Easter 2011 Blog Open Thread (II): Your Reflections on the Meaning of Easter this Year

We are interested in your theological as well as personal reflections–what is touching you most today where you live and move and have your being in terms of the significance of Easter.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

Easter 2011 Blog Open Thread (I): Where and with Whom are you Spending this Easter?

The more specific you can be the better.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

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, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Kendall Harmon–The Compelling Verbs of Easter

Above all the gospel accounts of Easter compel our attention. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” One version of this wonderful day begins with a voice of negation, a crucial question which many people never answer. Are we looking for love in all the wrong places? Are we clinging to earthly things and forgetting those things which do not pass away?

Then we hear “come and see.” To see with the full eyes of one’s heart is a rare thing indeed. So many times in life we look but do not see, do not perceive as God perceives. The power of the post-resurrection narratives is that each person is met on his or her terms. What wondrous love is that, as the Holy Spirit by his power opens our eyes.

The dynamic does not stop with the question and the call to see, however. If we really see who God is and his power to change lives and transform them into the likeness of his glory, we cannot keep it to ourselves.

Where I served my curacy in South Carolina, we had many Clemson football fans; they root for the Tigers whose color is orange. One day I visited a family devoted to Clemson and, I kid you not, even their toilet seat cover was orange. Bless them, they loved to tell the story of a particular University. One wonders whether an Easter people have a similar passion to share Jesus’ love for the world.

He is risen. Why? Come. See. Go. Tell. Alleluia.

”“The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the host of this blog

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

Tom Wright–The Church must stop trivialising Easter

Jesus of Nazareth was certainly dead by the Friday evening; Roman soldiers were professional killers and wouldn’t have allowed a not-quite-dead rebel leader to stay that way for long. When the first Christians told the story of what happened next, they were not saying: “I think he’s still with us in a spiritual sense” or “I think he’s gone to heaven”. All these have been suggested by people who have lost their historical and theological nerve.

The historian must explain why Christianity got going in the first place, why it hailed Jesus as Messiah despite His execution (He hadn’t defeated the pagans, or rebuilt the Temple, or brought justice and peace to the world, all of which a Messiah should have done), and why the early Christian movement took the shape that it did. The only explanation that will fit the evidence is the one the early Christians insisted upon – He really had been raised from the dead. His body was not just reanimated. It was transformed, so that it was no longer subject to sickness and death.

Let’s be clear: the stories are not about someone coming back into the present mode of life. They are about someone going on into a new sort of existence, still emphatically bodily, if anything, more so. When St Paul speaks of a “spiritual” resurrection body, he doesn’t mean “non-material”, like a ghost. “Spiritual” is the sort of Greek word that tells you,not what something is made of, but what is animating it. The risen Jesus had a physical body animated by God’s life-giving Spirit. Yes, says St Paul, that same Spirit is at work in us, and will have the same effect – and in the whole world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Easter, History

The Heidelberg Catechism on Easter

Question 45: What does the “resurrection” of Christ profit us?

Answer: First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of that righteousness which he had purchased for us by his death; secondly, we are also by his power raised up to a new life; and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

Footnotes: [For “first”] 1 Cor.15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: Rom.4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. 1 Pet.1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [for “secondly’] Rom.6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Col.3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Col.3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Eph.2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Eph.2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [for “lastly”] 1 Cor.15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 1 Cor.15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Cor.15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. Rom.8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Theology

Easter Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Music

Jim Trainor on Easter–I believe the story and that is why I know that I will see my mother again

I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people ”“ from beggars to kings — through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.

And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also — I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

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, Easter

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, Easter

Tim Keller on the Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection was as inconceivable for the first disciples, as impossible for them to believe, as it is for many of us today. Granted, their reasons would have been different from ours. The Greeks did not believe in resurrection; in the Greek worldview, the afterlife was liberation of the soul from the body. For them, resurrection would never be part of life after death. As for the Jews, some of them believed in a future general resurrection when the entire world would be renewed, but they had no concept of an individual rising from the dead. The people of Jesus’ day were not predisposed to believe in resurrection any more than we are.

Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., was highly antagonistic to Christianity and wrote a number of works listing arguments against it. One of the arguments he believed most telling went like this: Christianity can’t be true, because the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women””and we all know women are hysterical. And many of Celsus’ readers agreed: For them, that was a major problem. In ancient societies, as you know, women were marginalized, and the testimony of women was never given much credence.

Do you see what that means? If Mark and the Christians were making up these stories to get their movement off the ground, they would never have written women into the story as the first eyewitnesses to Jesus’ empty tomb. The only possible reason for the presence of women in these accounts is that they really were present and reported what they saw. The stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty and an angel declares that Jesus is risen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

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 (1932-2009)

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The Archbishop of Sydney’s Easter Message 2011

I can’t imagine the indignity of my own death. It may come over a long period of time; it may be terribly painful; it may be as a result of accident and be instantaneous. Who can tell?

But this I do know – and you can know it too – my Saviour Jesus has walked this way ahead of me. He has walked it in the worst of all ways. And this I know ”“ that he has been raised from the dead and walks not only ahead of me, but with me, every step of that road. And this I know ”“ that out of my indignity will come the glory of being with him for ever.

Read it all.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury's 2011 Easter Sermon

…ultimately, joy is about discovering that the world is more than you ever suspected, and so that you yourself are more than you suspected. The joy of the resurrection has a unique place in Christian faith and imagination because this event breaks open the shell of the world we thought we knew and projects us into the new and mysterious realm in which victorious mercy and inexhaustible love make the rules. And because it is the revelation of something utterly basic about reality itself, it is a joy that cannot just be at the mercy of passing feelings. It roots itself in the heart and remains as a foundation for everything else. The Christian is not therefore the person who has accepted a particular set of theories about the universe but the person who lives by the power of the joy that is laid bare in the event of the resurrection of Jesus. To be baptized ”˜into’ Christ is to be given a lasting connection with joy, a channel through which the basic sense of being where we ought to be can always come through, however much we choke it up with selfishness and worry. Sometimes, clearing out this debris needs a bit of explosive ”“ encounter with an extraordinary person or story, experience of passionate love, witnessing profound suffering, whatever shakes us out of our so-called ”˜normal’ habits. But we can at least contribute to this by giving time to clearing the channel as best we may, in silence, in the space of reflection. And we can also ask persistently what it is in our social environment that will most help create this for others, especially those who live with constant anxiety because of poverty, disability or other sorts of disadvantage.

Christian joy, the joy of Easter, is offered to the world not to guarantee a permanently happy society in the sense of a society free from tension, pain or disappointment, but to affirm that whatever happens in the unpredictable world ”“ sometimes wonderfully, sometimes horribly unpredictable ”“ there is a deeper level of reality, a world within the world, where love and reconciliation are ceaselessly at work, a world with which contact can be made so that we are able to live honestly and courageously with the challenges constantly thrown at us. And on the first Easter morning, it is as if ”˜the fountains of the great deep’ are broken open, and we are allowed to see, like Peter and John at the empty tomb, into the darkness for a moment ”“ and find our world turned upside down, joy made possible.

Read it all.

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