Category : Eschatology
Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What is the Connection Between Easter and the Church (Revelation 7:9-17)
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
— Tim Montgomerie (@montie) March 27, 2016
It is easy for us to forget that that is where the first disciples were on Easter morning—in the cul de sac. They had no place to go. Peter and Andrew, James and John, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James and the other women. The enterprise was based on Jesus of Nazareth. This movement which they had given themselves to—this God thing—it was all dependent upon him. The healing of the sick, delivering people from dark drives and obsessions, loosening the grip of loss, the teaching about how God works in peoples’ lives, (not just religious practices), but having the ability to bring people into God’s presence, into an experience with the living God by his words and presence. When Jesus was around, God came to them; forgiveness flowed; broken lives were mended. All this seemed to happen around him. You can see the problem I suppose—Jesus was the franchise. There was no way to posture or pretend about these things. Without him it would be futile to carry on.
To further illustrate my point, remember the disciples didn’t have any of these. The Pharisees and the scribes had the Hebrew scriptures; the priests in the temple had the altar of sacrifice, the altar of incense, the candelabra, the shew bread, the robes, the Holy of Holies—all that the disciples had was Jesus. Frankly, if he had not been raised we would never have heard of him. And just to have heard of him is hardly enough anyway. Without Jesus they were clearly in the cul de sac of death, which Karl Barth once called “the hopeless cul de sac.” That’s what those who stumble over Jesus’ seemingly exclusive statement that he is “the way, the truth and the life” too often forget. The Easter message is quite clear here—there’s one way out of the cul de sac and Jesus pioneered it.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez (@kathrynlopez) May 2, 2019
[One of the most striking examples] of secularization in contemporary Christianity is the quiet dropping of belief in a future life. Historically, this belief was the lifeblood of dynamic Christianity. Early Christians thought of themselves as “aliens and exiles on earth” and as persons whose true citizenship was in heaven. And throughout the Christian centuries, belief in a future life was at the heart of all living faith. Now however, this faith, though rarely denied, is equally rarely affirmed. I myself acquired two degrees in Christian theology and completed all the requirements for ordination to the Anglican ministry without receiving any instruction in this doctrine, or even being exposed to sermons about it.
–Paul Badham, “Some secular trends in the Church of England today”, in Religion, State, and Society in Modern Britain (Lampeter: Edward Mellen Press, 1989), p.26
Why is it important for us to hold fast to the remembrance of the empty tomb? Some people, beginning with the Jewish opponents, have always been tempted to believe too little about God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, and usually that temptation begins with scoffing disregard for the moments in which he entered and then transcended history.
It is commonly heard from Episcopal pulpits, on Easter morning no less, that the empty tomb is only a metaphor for the reality of the living Christ, or that Christ rose, not from the tomb but in the hearts of the women at the tomb or among the disciples when they celebrated their first Easter Eucharist. But this is the same mindset that makes Christ’s birth a metaphor and his death an inspiring example of commitment to a cause. And in the end, Jesus Christ himself becomes only a metaphor of how you can “be all that you can be.”
To such thinking, I can only suggest a strong dose of John Updike. In a semi-autobiographical story, “Pigeon Feathers,” Updike describes the formative experience of a rather sickly, sensitive young boy named David who had just read H. G. Wells’ version of the “swoon theory,” that Jesus had survived the cross, staggered out of the tomb, and died elsewhere, thus making Christianity a freakish mistake at best. Fortunately, it seems, David finds consolation from Pastor Dobson, who says: “Beware smiling affirmations of the ‘meaning’ of the resurrection. It is the monstrosity of the empty tomb we want.”
A #Prayer from Frank Colquhoun ‘Come to us, we pray thee, in thy risen power and make us glad with thy presence; and so breathe thy Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may be strong to serve thee and spread abroad thy good news’ https://t.co/MvWu8BmWK0 #easter #easter2019 pic.twitter.com/pRE6AbK88W
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) May 1, 2019
[Photo: St John’s, Johns Island SC]
The Easter stories are full of people getting the wrong end of the stick. Mary thinks Jesus’ body has been stolen. Peter sees the linen wrappings and can’t work out what it’s all about. The disciples didn’t understand the scriptures. The angels question Mary and she still doesn’t know what’s going on. Then she thinks Jesus is the gardener. Then, it seems, she reaches out to cling on to him, and he tells her she mustn’t. You could hardly get more misunderstandings into a couple of paragraphs if you tried.
And the point is, of course: Easter has burst into our world, the world of space, time and matter, the world of real history and real people and real life, but our minds and imaginations are too small to contain it, so we do our best to put the sea into a bottle and fit the explosive fact of the resurrection into the possibilities we already know about.
At one level, of course, the continued puzzlement of the disciples is a mark of the story’s authenticity. If someone had been making it all up a generation later, as many have suggested, they would hardly have had such a muddle going on. More particularly, nobody would have made up the remarkable detail of the cloth around Jesus’ head, folded up in a place by itself, or the even more extraordinary fact that Jesus is not immediately recognised, either here, or in the evening on the road to Emmaus, or the later time, cooking breakfast by the shore. The first Christians weren’t prepared for what actually happened. Nobody could have been. As one leading agnostic scholar has put it, it looks as though they were struggling to describe something for which they didn’t have adequate language.
But this problem isn’t confined to the first century. Ever since then, people have tried to squash the Easter message into conventional boxes that it just won’t fit.
29 April 2019
Monday of the 2nd week of Eastertide pic.twitter.com/gk2cJNjKOf
— Kalina Boulter (@KalinaBoulter) April 29, 2019
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.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
— Kalina Boulter (@KalinaBoulter) April 28, 2019
How shall we understand freedom? Perhaps because I am in a state, South Carolina, where candidates….[not long ago] were running around saying “you are free so vote for me!” this has been much in mind.
There is a lot of sloppy thinking about freedom these days. For too many it only means the ability to choose a candidate or a product. Or it is understood to be the removal of external constraints, as in I need the government out of my—then fill in the blank: my business, my body, and on and on.
Christian thinking about freedom is a totally different animal.
For one thing, in the Scriptures, freedom has an interesting relationship to time. Freedom is something which was present in creation, and which will be fully present again at the end of history when God brings it to its conclusion. But what about the present? The people Jesus spends time with—say, for example, the woman at the well (John 4), or Zaccheus (Luke 19) are not free but constrained, imprisoned, and encased. When Jesus rescues them, freedom begins, but even then it is lived out in the tension between the already of new life in Christ and the not yet of the fullness of the eschaton.
So apart from Christ people who think they are free need to hear the bad news that their perceived freedom is an illusion. One would like to hear more from preachers these days on this score, since they are addressing parishioners who are workaholics or poweraholics or sexaholics and/or addicts to heaven knows what else. Why is it that a group like AA seems to know more about real freedom than so many churches? Because they begin with the premise which says their members are enslaved—that is the first of the twelve steps.
And there is so much more to freedom then even this. In the Bible, real freedom moves in not one or two but three directions.
Freedom from is one piece of the puzzle—freedom from sin, from the demands of the law, from the tyranny of the urgent, from whatever constricts us from being the people God intended us to be.
Equally important, however, is freedom for, freedom for Christ, for service, for God’s justice, for ministry. Paul wonderfully describes himself as a bondservant of Christ Jesus, and the Prayer Book has it right when it says God’s service is “perfect freedom.”
Freedom with should not be missed, however. For Paul in Galatians Christian freedom is not the Christian by herself changed by the gospel. This has too much in common with the individual shopper in Walmart deciding exactly what kind of popcorn or yogurt she wants. No, real freedom is to be liberated to live for Christ with the new pilgrim people of God who reflect back a little of heaven’s light on earth. A real church is one where people enjoy koinonia, fellowship, the richness of God’s life shared into them which they then share out in Christ’s name by the power of the Holy Spirit to the world.
Paul says it wonderfully in Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Do not settle for anything less than this real freedom, freedom from bondage, freedom with our fellow pilgrims, and freedom for the God who made the heavens and the earth.
–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon is the convenor of this blog
— Fr. Mark Hanna (@Fr_MarkHanna) April 28, 2019
Here, in their very midst was the author of Life, bringing to them the word of his peace. And that is not all: not just a mending, but something greater than they could ever think or imagine was about to happen. He gives to them a new commission. Adam and Eve had been told to govern and protect the created order as God’s custodians. But this one true human being, this Jesus, this One who is truly God, truly the Son of Man, calls a new family into his service: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” From now on the job would be not simply to care for creation, not just a work of maintenance. Rather, his disciples are enfolded, made part of the Father’s work of restoration. They are to go, to heal, to restore what has been lost, to seek those who have been lost.
Such a role may seem too great for humankind. After all, it is God himself who is the shepherd of the sheep. But here we are at the dawn of a new creation, a new era in which God’s people are being called no longer simply servants—though servants we are—but FRIENDS. Who is up for this task? The answer is, of course, not one of us. That is why Jesus does not simply give his disciples instructions. He also gives them his very life.
Think again about the Narnia chronicles. What is it that Aslan does as soon as he has won, with the stone table cracked, the bonds broken and the deep magic accomplished? Why, he visits the dungeon of the White Witch, and begins to breathe upon those who have been petrified, frozen by her evil. He breathes, and they are restored back to life. What Jesus does here on that first Easter evening is even greater: not only does he breathe to restore the disciples back to life. No, he does more. He says to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Back at Eden, God gave to humankind the breath of life. Now God the Son hands over to his disciples the One who is in Himself the Breath of new life, the very Spirit of God. Not merely a life force, but the Lord of Life comes to be with these frightened disciples: and they will never be the same. It is as though Aslan had breathed upon a stone cat and made him not merely a living creature but a little lion, bursting with the same vigor of the great Aslan himself, ready to do the work of freeing and bringing joy to those in darkness and in prison.
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio
“Thomas answered and said to Him: my Lord and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” pic.twitter.com/KaovZxYZ5k
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) April 28, 2019
As a parish priest I remember telling parishioners, on more than one occasion, “When death comes into your home he brings a lot of unwanted relatives with him.” I do not mean relatives or in-laws who may come from out of town for the funeral. The relatives of death to which I refer are grief, fear, loneliness, guilt, shame, anger, depression, even anxiety. Once these come under the roof of your house it is difficult to show them the door. They tend to take up residence, over staying their welcome. Just this morning I read the story of Clint Hill, the secret service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy during the days some refer to as Camelot. With poignant grief he recalled her words that day almost fifty years ago as the President’s wounded head lay in her lap like a modern Pieta, “They shot his head off. Oh Jack, what have they done?”
I’ve been listening to Dr. Billy Graham’s recent book Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. He is no stranger to moments of national grief, like the one Clint Hill witnessed so painfully. At age 93 he has seen firsthand more than a little of our country’s sorrow. Yet grief when it is personal strikes even deeper. In recounting the death of his beloved wife and best friend for almost sixty-four years, Ruth Bell Graham, he writes, “Although I rejoice that her struggles with weakness and pain have all come to an end, I still feel as if a part of me has been ripped out, and I miss her far more than I ever could have imagined.” “Death”, he goes on to say, quite accurately, “is always an intruder even when it is expected.” Frankly, if there is no answer to death there is no answer to our most abiding enemy and all those blood relatives he brings with him. This, as you might imagine, brings me to Easter. I am happy to recall it. The apostle affirms, “Our Saviour Jesus Christ has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10 NEB)
Easter unflinchingly confronts our enemies, death and sin that would lock us in a self-justifying bondage, and plague our lives from start to finish. Christ’s death, however, is God’s No to sin. In the cross God reveals his hatred of sin as Christ dies to destroy it; and shows his love for sinners as he dies to free us of it. In Christ’s resurrection God speaks his Yes to life and human freedom, breaking the power of death. Donald Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury put it well: “You may not like it. You may ignore it. You may deny it. But this is it. Take away the Cross and Resurrection from Christianity and you have a poor lifeless and maimed thing left…” And we must also say a dead religion dreadfully inadequate for our needs. Archbishop Coggan was right. We need to keep the Cross and Resurrection central. They tell us of God’s No, to death, and the fear that is death’s power; No, to sin and its tyranny of our lives; No, to fear that cripples us from living the dance of life freely; No, to the shame we don’t deserve and grace for the shame we do; No, to the loneliness that dogs our steps for the Risen One is with us always. Let me say again. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Great Yes of God. It has left us an empty tomb and an open door. It will in God’s good time and grace sweep our lives clean of death and the unwanted relatives it brings into our homes. Even this Sunday as we say the words, “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” the joy of Easter may escort some these out the door. We can then live our lives in Christ, with Christ and for Christ freely, and for his sake for a hurting and broken world.
May the Peace of the Risen Christ be always with you,
-–(The Rt Rev.) Mark Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) Resurrezione di Gesù 1531,Windsor Collection
J.B.Bach Easter Oratoriohttps://t.co/bQ6ychd8im@Spiros209 @Amyperuana @LuciaTassan @dianadep1 @Cassini_jon @ANNAMARIABIASI1 @angelicadisogno @migliaccio31 @albertopetro2 @MomiraMonika pic.twitter.com/FFJEpkBFSp
— BrindusaB (@BrindusaB1) April 21, 2019
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. Listen carefully for a famous Henry Allen “Harry” Ironside (1876-1951) story about forgiveness of sins from the life of czar Nicholas I of Russia.
“I bow before your cross,
O Christ my God;
I glorify your grave,
O Deathless One;
Feasting for your Rising
I cry to you:
‘My Lord is Risen!'”
– St Romanos the Melodist, On the Resurrection II pic.twitter.com/VQDudJqdKM
— Robert Mitchell (@RobertMitchel_l) April 28, 2019
In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,
Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ 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.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”
–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414
In Celebration of Easter: Risen Christ, 1521, Michelangelo, the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome pic.twitter.com/sTe7IKkVkB
— Anatomia Italiana (@AnatomiaItalian) April 21, 2019
As the disciples preached in the earliest Christian sermons, “This Jesus God has raised up, of whom we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:32,36].
The Resurrection was not a dawning awareness of Christ’s continuing presence among the disciples, it was the literal, physical raising of Jesus’ body from the dead. The Church is founded upon the resurrected Lord, who appeared among His disciples and was seen by hundreds of others.
The Church does not have mere permission to celebrate the Resurrection, it has a mandate to proclaim the truth that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrected Lord gave the Church a sacred commission to take the gospel throughout the world. As Paul made clear, the resurrection of Christ also comes as a comfort to the believer, for His defeat of death is a foretaste and promise of our own resurrection by His power. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” [1 Corinthians 15:53].
So, as the Church gathers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we should look backward in thankfulness to that empty tomb and forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s promises in us. For Resurrection Day is not merely a celebration”“it is truly preparation as well. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the promise of our resurrection from the dead, and of Christ’s total victory over sin and death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the very center of the Christian gospel. The empty tomb is full of power.
— Museum Rembrandthuis (@Rembrandthuis) March 27, 2016
I’m a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, and I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. So do dozens of my colleagues. How can this be?….
Today’s widespread materialist view that events contrary to the laws of science just can’t happen is a metaphysical doctrine, not a scientific fact. What’s more, the doctrine that the laws of nature are “inviolable” is not necessary for science to function. Science offers natural explanations of natural events. It has no power or need to assert that only natural events happen.
So if science is not able to adjudicate whether Jesus’ resurrection happened or not, are we completely unable to assess the plausibility of the claim? No. Contrary to increasingly popular opinion, science is not our only means for accessing truth. In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, we must consider the historical evidence, and the historical evidence for the resurrection is as good as for almost any event of ancient history. The extraordinary character of the event, and its significance, provide a unique context, and ancient history is necessarily hard to establish. But a bare presumption that science has shown the resurrection to be impossible is an intellectual cop-out. Science shows no such thing.
Hypothesis 3: I was brainwashed as a child. If you’ve read this far and you are still wondering how an MIT professor could seriously believe in the resurrection, you might guess I was brainwashed to believe it as a child. But no, I did not grow up in a home where I was taught to believe in the resurrection. I came to faith in Jesus when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University and was baptized in the chapel of Kings College on my 20th birthday. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are as compelling to me now as then.
In a state of alarm and fright,they thought they were seeing a ghost.But he said,’Why are you so agitated,and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?Look at my hands and feet;yes,it is I indeed.Touch me and see for yourselves;a ghost has no flesh& bones as you can see I have. pic.twitter.com/fQrnw2yJPj
— Kalina Boulter (@KalinaBoulter) April 25, 2019
Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.
The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.
These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
— St Paul’s Cathedral (@StPaulsLondon) April 1, 2018
This takes us to the heart of John’s extraordinary Easter message. The thing John celebrates in the resurrection and imminent ascension of the Lord Jesus is the restoration, and the transformation, of relationships. In this case, it’s his relationship with Mary: as he speaks her name and she replies, ‘Dear Rabbi’, their relationship is restored; as he then commissions her to be what the Orthodox Church calls the apostle to the apostles, taking the good news of the resurrection to the other disciples, their relationship is transformed.
And it’s clear from the errand entrusted to Mary that Jesus’ relationships with those other disciples are also about to be restored and transformed. The Lord tells her, ‘Go to my brothers’. Do you know that’s the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to them that way? Previously, Jesus has called them his servants, and even his friends. But his death and resurrection have so restored and transformed relationships that he now refers to his disciples as his brothers. Again, Jesus has spoken often in this gospel of ‘the Father’ and even of ‘my Father’. ‘My Father and I are one’ he said, ‘My Father is still working and I am working’. ‘I have come in my Father’s name’. But right here is the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to God as ‘your Father’. Again, until this moment Jesus has never spoken of the Father as ‘your God’. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, relationships are not just restored, but transformed: Jesus’ God becomes ‘our God’, his Father becomes ‘our Father’.
And sure enough in the rest of the gospel we will see Jesus’ relationships with his brothers restored and transformed: restored, as he invites sceptical Thomas to see and even to touch his wounds; and transformed as he then commissions him, with the other disciples, in those words ‘As the Father sent me so I send you’; restored, as he gently asks Peter, three times over, ‘Do you love me?’ (once for each denial); and transformed as he then commissions him, equally gently, to feed his sheep (once for each denial).
I must stop. You know, if it wasn’t for the first Easter Day, no one would ever have dreamed of celebrating the Christmas. If it wasn’t for the Lord’s resurrection, there’s no way we’d celebrate his nativity.
So why celebrate the resurrection? According to John, it’s because in and it through it, we become brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus; in it and through it, we find that Jesus’ God is our God, his Father is our Father. In it and through it, our relationships with the Living God are first restored and then transformed, as we first hear the Risen Lord calling us by name, and then hear him commissioning us to share the good news with others.
— DioceseofSheffield (@DioceseofSheff) September 23, 2017
If there’s anything Catholics in the United States should have learned over the past two decades, it’s that order—in the world, the republic, and the Church—is a fragile thing. And by “order,” I don’t mean the same old same old. Rather, I mean the dynamic development of world politics, our national life, and the Church within stable reference points that guide us into the future.
Many of those reference points seem to have come unstuck, and that’s why we’re experiencing an unusual amount of air turbulence these days….Those who don’t remember the two decades immediately after Vatican II and haven’t taken the trouble to learn that history are understandably upset by the fragility of order in the Church today. But they should also understand that this is not 1968, or 1978, or even 1988, and that a lot of ballast was put into the Barque of Peter during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For all the challenges it faces, and despite the determination of some to revisit what they regard as the glorious Seventies, the Church in the U.S. is in far, far better condition to withstand the air turbulence of the moment than it was forty years ago. And that’s because truth, spoken winsomely and in charity, but without fudging, has proven a powerful instrument of evangelization and spiritual growth in a culture wallowing in various confusions.
At the bottom of the bottom line is the Resurrection. It’s entirely possible to hold fast to the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was raised by God to a new form of bodily life after his crucifixion and be deeply concerned about the state of the Church today. But it’s not possible to know the Risen Lord and to indulge in despair. Despair died on the cross and unshakeable hope was born at Easter. That’s why Easter faith is the surest anchor for all of us in turbulent times.
Stained glass detail from Chartres Cathedral illustrating today's Gospel of Emmaus: "Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself." (Luke 24:27) https://t.co/CgOQt1XzBK
— Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. (@LawrenceOP) April 24, 2019
Today that question, that debate—Did Jesus really rise from the dead historically, bodily?—is not as prominent or as intense because, at one level, people feel that it doesn’t matter to them, because different people believe in different things, and maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t; and if it did, or didn’t, and that helps you get along in life, fine; but it doesn’t make much difference to me. I may or may not call myself a Christian, and if the resurrection seems helpful to me, I may believe it; and if it doesn’t, then I won’t, and I don’t think any body should tell me that I have to.
Behind those two different kinds of unbelief–the kind from 40 years ago and the kind from the present day–is a different set of assumptions. For example, in my college days the assumption pretty much still held sway, though it was starting to give way with the rise of existentialism, that there are fixed, closed natural laws, that make the world understandable and scientifically manageable, and these laws do not allow the truth of the claim that someone has risen from the dead to live forever. That was a commonly held assumption: The modern world with its scientific understanding of natural laws does not allow for resurrections. So unbelief was often rooted in that kind of assumption.
But today, that’s not the most common working assumption. Today the assumption is not that there are natural laws outside of me forbidding the resurrection of Jesus, but there is a personal law inside of me that says: I don’t have to adapt my life to anything I don’t find helpful. Or you could state it another way: Truth for me is what I find acceptable and helpful.
#Easter Day @HFDCathedral: 1000 #Eucharist with #Langlais‘ spectacular Messe Solennelle & #Taverner‘s Dum transisset; 1130 #Matins (#Stanford in C, #Byrd, #Guilmant); 1530 #Evensong (#Dyson in D, #Wesley Blessed be the God and Father; #Widor) All welcome pic.twitter.com/W9HYuPnTEJ
— Peter Dyke (@peterdyke49) April 21, 2019
“The heart of the earth has accepted and received the Son of God; and it is from a womb so consecrated, this womb of the ‘hellish’ depths of human existence, that the saved creature rises up. Not just (not even temporarily) in the Son alone. It is not that he alone descended and so rose again as victor because death could not hold him captive. ‘Even now’ he is not the firstborn among the dead in the sense that he is even now the only human being to have found the complete fulfillment of his whole human reality. . . . the Son of Man ‘cannot’ have risen alone. What, we may ask, is really to be understood by his glorified bodily condition (if we take it seriously, and don’t spiritualize it into another way of talking about his eternal ‘communion with God’) right up to the ‘Last Day’, if meanwhile it should persist all by itself—something which is precisely unthinkable for the bodily condition (though glorified)? So when we find in Mt 27:52 s. that other bodies too, those of saints, rose up with him (indeed even ‘appeared’—as he himself did—to show that the end of the ages has already come upon us), this is merely positive evidence from Scripture for what we would have expected anyway, if definitive salvation has already been unshakably founded, death conquered, and a man, for whom it is never good to be alone, has entered upon the fulfillment of his whole being. Hence to try to set aside this testimony from Matthew as a ‘mythological’ intrusion, or to argue away its eschatological meaning with ingenious evasions—such as that it is merely a matter of a temporary resurrection or even of ‘phantom bodies’—would not be in accord with the authoritative voice of Scripture. It is a fact that by far the greater part of the Fathers and the theologians, right up to the present day, have firmly maintained the eschatological interpretation of the text as the only one possible from the exegetical point of view.”
24 April 2019
Easter Wednesday pic.twitter.com/GXWnK1SUKU
— Kalina Boulter (@KalinaBoulter) April 24, 2019
Greetings to you in Peace.
Yesterday suicide bombers unleashed death and destruction as unsuspecting Sri Lankan Christians gathered to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Together with those killed in hotels, the death toll has reached 310, with many more injured, and our hearts go out in prayer for all who have been caught up in these deeply traumatic events.
News of this atrocity came through just before I preached at All Souls Langham Place and let me repeat what I said then, “The resurrection of Jesus is a total defeat of death and of those who would want to use death to scare people off from faith in Jesus. His resurrection has made death powerless against all who believe in Jesus Christ.”
At our recent conference in Dubai, Gafcon resolved to stand with the Suffering Church and this will be a leading agenda item for our Primates Council as it meets in Sydney next week. Meanwhile, in this Easter week let us remember that the one who drew alongside two sad and discouraged disciples on the Emmaus road was the Risen Christ who yet still bore the wounds of the cross. By death he has destroyed death and he will be with us until the very end in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Risen Lord be with you!
Archbishop Ben Kwashi, Gafcon General Secretary
Statement from Archbishop Ben Kwashi. Please pray for Sri Lanka. Read his full statement here: https://t.co/kMo15i3rYN
— GAFCON (@gafconference) April 23, 2019
We are an Easter people living in the story that started under the bright stars in a stable at Bethlehem, moved into the darkness that shrouded Christ on the cross, and now stands breathless before biggest occasion to crash into our history. Fleming Rutledge calls it “the transhistorical event,” where the true nature of God was revealed in Christ.
The resurrection is not a set piece. It is not an isolated demonstration of divine dazzlement… Since the resurrection is God’s mighty transhistorical Yes to the historically crucified Son, we can assert that the crucifixion is the most important historical event that has ever happened. …The resurrection ratifies the cross as the way “until He comes.” The Crucifixion (44)
We live in the now and the ‘not yet.’ And in the meantime, which is what we have—the ‘meantime’—our songs are like those in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings on the Fields of Cormallen, where the minstrel sang to all the host “until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together, and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”
Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again! Alleluia!
— Fr Aidan Kimel (@EOrthodoxy) April 21, 2019
From the outset, Jones just dismisses the Bible’s consistent truth claim of the bodily, physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and its centrality to the gospel. The empty tomb in Mark’s gospel clearly suggests that the dead man who once resided in the tomb is now alive—furthermore, the other three gospels and the entire testimony of the New Testament is filled with the resurrection’s importance to the Christian faith and community.
None of this matters to Dr. Jones. She said that the empty tomb merely symbolizes that “the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed.” Jones reduces the death and resurrection of Christ to an emotive experience, recasting the empty tomb not as Jesus’ triumph over sin and death but a symbolic expression of unquenchable love.
Kristof then asks, “But without a physical resurrection, isn’t there a risk that we are left with just the crucifixion?” The apostle Paul had this question on his mind in 1 Corinthians 15, when he wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” The apostle teaches that without Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Christians worship a dead man, cursed on a cross—and there is no hope because mankind remains under the pangs of sin.
Jones, however, views the situation quite different from the apostle. She answered, “Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me, the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope?”
Let’s be clear. She is teaching a religion here – but that religion is not Christianity.
New: “A Tale of Two Religions: Liberal Theology Without Illusions.” https://t.co/dZGl7MkyGG
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) April 22, 2019
The manifesto concisely summarizes the Catholic conception of eternal life in a lapidary paragraph:
Every human being has an immortal soul, which in death is separated from the body, hoping for the resurrection of the dead. Death makes the human person’s decision for or against God definitive. Everyone has to face the particular judgment immediately after death. Either a purification is necessary, or the person goes directly to heavenly bliss and is allowed to see God face to face. There is also the dreadful possibility that a person will remain opposed to God to the very end…. The punishment of hell is a terrible reality.
This reiteration of the Catholic belief in heaven, hell and purgatory might appear a recitation of the obvious, a reminder of simple truths learned in grade-school catechism classes. But it is no longer obvious in the contemporary approach to death and judgment operative in American Catholicism and elsewhere.
Catholic funeral services increasingly have little to say of the judgment the human person faces at the moment of death and at the end of time. It is as if the free choices we make in this life no longer have eternal consequences.
‘Catholic funeral services increasingly have little to say of the #judgment the human person faces at the moment of #death+at the end of time. It is as if the free choices we make in this life no longer have eternal consequences’ https://t.co/HBXPoGD1W6 true also of othr churches
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 27, 2019
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”””HEB. vi. 19, and part of v. 20.
Life is full of changes and chances. It sounds commonplace to say so, and yet more and more one learns to realize that the commonplaces of life are the things we most frequently dwell on, and the things we most often need comfort about. Poverty and riches, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, joy and sorrow, succeed one another in our lives in a way that men call chance, and Christians know to be the will of God. All external circumstances change and alter; friends fail us or are taken away; death breaks up family circles; we move away from the scenes of youth and dwell in other places; cities and towns lose their familiar appearance; nay, in this our day things that should be most stable shake and totter, and government and order seem about to fail, and the very Church itself partakes of the universal disquiet; and only the eye of faith can discern the sure and immovable foundations against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.
But, even if there were no external changes, the changes within us are still harder to bear. We are not what we were. Time more surely alters our inner selves than even it does what is without us. We do not love what we loved, we do not seek what we sought, we do not fear what we feared, we do not hate what we hated. We are not true to ourselves. However brave a front we may present to the world, we are compelled to acknowledge to ourselves our own inconsistencies. There is often a broad chasm even between the intellectual convictions of one period of life and of another; and our very religious convictions, except they are built on the unchanging rule of the catholic faith, contradict each other; and the weary heart, uncertainly reaching forth in the darkness, longs with an ever deeper longing for that immutable One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Blessed, then, is it to hear of an anchor of the soul. The imagery is simple enough. The ship, beaten by waves, tossed by tempests, driven by winds, takes refuge in the harbor. The anchor is cast from the stern. The ship rides securely; the danger is over.
On a wet, windy Thursday in December, Bicester Village swarms with shoppers. The Oxfordshire retail complex receives about seven million visitors a year, lured by designer clothes at discount prices.
Across the road, there’s a sports field. Beyond that, in view of the shopping centre, is Bicester’s cemetery. It’s a pleasant, simple space: a long path runs through it, flanked by lines of trees. The oldest of the weathered gravestones I saw dated back to 1865.
Above ground, at least, the cemetery doesn’t look particularly crowded. But almost all the 5,000-plus plots are occupied. When it ran out of space in the past, it just kept growing. It took over one field, then another. To clear space for more graves, workers removed benches and dug up trees — a practice known in the burial industry as cramming.
Now, however, the cemetery has expanded as far as it can. As of last April — the most recent date for which Bicester council provides figures — it only has 36 unreserved burial plots left, and another 23 for cremated remains. In a town of 30,000-plus, that’s enough to get it through the next couple of years, provided there aren’t any severe flu outbreaks.
Bicester is not alone. At a time when, each year, 140,000 people in the UK still choose to be buried, cemeteries around the country are running out of space. In 2013, a BBC study found that a quarter of England’s local authorities — which oversee the overwhelming majority of cemeteries — expected those they managed to be full by 2023.
I didn’t know this – Hackney and Tower Hamlets have stopped providing burials altogether. The cost of a basic burial has increased 70% in past decade, to almost £4800 https://t.co/6pqVTdsyZN
— Madeleine Davies (@MadsDavies) February 11, 2019
Hell matters to a lot of us.
[Editor’s note: Last year, a LifeWay Research survey similarly found that just 45 percent of Americans agree hell is a real place. The Pew Research Center reported that a vast majority of highly religious and somewhat religious Americans (at least 8 in 10) believe in hell, while barely any non-religious Americans do (fewer than 5%). In the Pew study, each group was more likely to profess a belief in heaven than hell.]
Earlier research into supernatural evil such as hell, Satan, and demons has found both positive and negative outcomes.
Belief in supernatural evil has been linked to results such as increasing religious resourcesand promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.
Belief in hell and mental health: Why researchers want to talk about the relationship between the twohttps://t.co/SqlXQjRWhE
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) February 9, 2019
(NYT) When Religion Leads to Trauma–Some churches “weaponize scripture and religion to do very deep damage on the psyche,” one pastor says.
Brett Higbee, a retired land surveyor who attended the ranch during the late 1970s, said that he was routinely beaten for religious infractions like failing to memorize Bible verses. These experiences made him religion-phobic for years, he said, his pain triggered by entering a church or even hearing Christmas music on the radio.
The gap between religious teachings on compassion and the ways that faith sometimes gets misused inspired Dr. Harold G. Koenig, a psychiatrist, and his colleagues at Duke University to develop “religious cognitive therapy” in 2014. The therapy uses “positive scriptures that focus on forgiveness, God’s love and divine mercy to challenge the dysfunctional thoughts that maintain trauma,” says Dr. Koenig.
The Duke team has developed workbooks that accentuate this positive content for each of the world’s major religions. Clinical trials, published in 2015, showed that religious people who received the therapy had lower rates of depression and reported more positive emotions like gratitude and optimism than those who did not receive it.
The best cure for religious trauma may be a deeper dive into the spiritual core of religious teachings, Dr. Koenig says.
When Eric died, a big part of my own self was ripped out. My desires with respect to him, my commitments, my hopes, my expectations—they were no more. My expectation that he would be home for the summer was no more; my plan to attend his graduation was no more. For a month or so I caught myself still planning to do things with him, still expecting him to call. Eventually, the realization sunk in, all the way down, that he was dead. I had to learn to live around that gaping wound and with that grief. Grief was not just an additional component in my life. I had to live a new kind of life, one for which I had no practice.
When someone to whom we are attached dies or is destroyed, we are cast into grief. That tells us when grief befalls us, not what the thing itself is. Grief, I have come to think, is wanting the death or destruction of the loved one to be undone, while at the same time knowing it cannot be undone. Grief is wanting the loved one back when one knows he can’t come back. Tears and agitation are typical expressions of grief, but they are not the thing itself. My grief was wanting intensely for Eric to be alive when I knew that could not be.
It has to be wanting, not wishing. When I was a teenager, I wished to become a major-league baseball pitcher—one of the very best, a 20-game winner. I fantasized about it. But the fact that I have not become a baseball pitcher has caused me no grief whatsoever, since it wasn’t something I really wanted. I had no talent for baseball, and I took no steps toward becoming a pitcher. I wished, but I did not want. And one has to know, or be convinced, that what one wants is impossible. Otherwise, it is hope rather than grief that one experiences—perhaps worried, anxious hope, perhaps hope against hope, but hope. Grief is wanting with all your heart what you know or believe is impossible. The more intense the wanting, the more intense the grief.
In grief, wanting collides with knowing. I desperately wanted Eric to be alive, but I knew he was dead and could not be brought back to life. Grief is banging your head against the wall. If you are frightened, you can run away or hide; if you are angry, you can vent your rage. When you are in grief, there is nothing you can do, other than altering yourself by getting rid of the frustrated want or by repressing your awareness of it.
By virtue of wanting what you know or believe to be impossible, grief is irrational: it makes no sense to want what you know cannot be. In this way, too, grief is different from fear and anger. Some fear is irrational, as is some anger; but fear and anger are not inherently irrational. It makes good sense to be fearful when you are in danger; it makes good sense to be angry when you are insulted. Grief, by contrast, is inherently irrational.
‘#Grief, I have come to think, is wanting the #death or destruction of the loved one to be undone, while at the same time knowing it cannot be undone;’ moving and superb by Nicholas Wolterstorff https://t.co/tHodabJbSS #theology #family #children #mystery #pain (CC BY-SA 3.0) pic.twitter.com/dibz7k3A6Z
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) January 29, 2019
“Christ is Risen!”, Dr Shepherd said in response to widely reported criticism about his appointment. “There has been speculation in the press and on social media about my views on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Part of this is based on a sermon I preached in 2008.
“It is my faith that Jesus rose from the dead and I have never denied the reality of the empty tomb. The risen Christ was not a ghost – he ate and could be touched – but at the same time he appeared in a locked room (John 20: 26) and vanished from sight (Luke 24: 31) and he was often not immediately recognised.
— Anglican Communion News Service (@AnglicanNews) January 15, 2019