Category : Eschatology

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Our spending on longevity research belies our faulty understanding of death

Death was once — potentially, at least — an expression of some ultimate triumph. Now it is the bitter failure of our technology. And whatever we spend on it, no amount of money will overcome this gap.

Death, then, is the political issue we are not talking about. Even after the pandemic, when the daily death figures were broadcast on every news broadcast, we continue to say little about death other than making the uncritical assumption it is always to be avoided.

And so we are sleepwalking into a state of affairs in which the young will resent the elderly for the burden they place upon them. Of course, we should support the generous funding for social care. What we ought to be challenging is whether the medical technologies that are keeping us alive for ever longer complement our understanding of what human existence is for.

But I see little appetite for that. In a secular society, we have few intellectual or cultural resources to challenge the pervasiveness of more-ism. And to live deeper, more meaningful lives is not the same as living longer ones.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Eschatology, Science & Technology, Secularism

Sunday food for Thought from CS Lewis

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Theodicy, Theology: Scripture

Food for Thought from CS Lewis

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.

Mere Christianity

Posted in Church History, Eschatology

Interesting food for thought from Christ City Church Vancouver BC

The Evangelical Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in Canada, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology

CS Lewis on Friendship, Death and an insight it gives us into the real nature of the Church and of Heaven

[Essayist Charles] Lamb [1775-1834] says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but “A’s part in C”, while C loses not only A but “A’s part in B”. In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald [J R R Tolkien]’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away”. Of course the scarcity of kindred souls–not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices–set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

–CS Lewis The Four Loves Chapter 4, cited by yours truly in the sermon yesterday

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

Paul Zahl–How Mary And I Spent Holy Week, 1973

Two days later I was pinned against the wall by the soullessness of Harvard Divinity School. Alone, I attended a sunrise Easter service on the roof of Divinity Hall. Krister Stendahl, who was then Dean, preached and conducted the service. He told us that the only trustworthy Resurrection text in the Bible was St. Mark 16:8c: “… and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.” Let me repeat that: the famous New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl, one of the founders of the “New Perspective on Paul,” told his congregation on Easter morning 1973 that the Resurrection appearances of Jesus are all “untrustworthy” except Mark 16:8c. And that what Christians need to do and be on Easter morning is be afraid. This really happened.

As if to pour salt in the wound, the rector of Our Saviour, Arlington, said something comparable during the main service there later that Easter morning. (Mary was wearing a black-and-white dress and looked stunning.)

The rector said that his Easter sermon was to be his public announcement that he had recently found the meaning of his ministry for the next phase of his rectorship in Arlington. That meaning lay in a popular new form of therapy known as “Transactional Analysis” (i.e., “I’m OK/You’re OK”). The rector was hoping that the congregation would find joy in joining him during the next half of 1973 and also 1974 as together we would enhance our relationships through that system. This really happened.

Even while sitting there, with Mary, I kept thinking of Peggy Lee and her song from 1970 entitled, “Is That All There Is?” I mean, seriously, here were two back-to-back Christian services on Easter Sunday in which “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed” (Lycidas).

Well, that is how Mary and I spent Holy Week 1973. Thumbs up for Piero Paolo Pasolini; thumbs down for Dean Stendahl, Professor Cox, and the rector of Our Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Parishes, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Tom Long–Is Our Town everybody’s town?

At the heart of Our Town is a profound Christian eschatology, a theological perspective that playwright A. R. Gurney says pervaded all of Wilder’s mature work. In Our Town, this eschatology is brought to focus on human mortality. Death runs like a ribbon through Grover’s Corners. In the very first minutes of the play, the stage manager, speaking from the vantage point of the future, matter-of-factly informs us of the coming deaths of the first three characters we have met. As the play proceeds, we are told of a number of other, usually premature, deaths. When the stage manager introduces a local university professor to supply some historical details about Grover’s Corners, he advises him to be brief, saying, “Unfortunately our time is limited.” By the third act, which begins in the cemetery, we realize what he meant.

All of this death, so much of it unexpected and untimely, does not lead to unrelieved tragedy. To the contrary, Wilder sees the fleeting nature of life as one of the factors that render human life precious. Like sacramental bread and wine, human lives and relationships are earthly and perishable but also bearers of the sacred, the eternal.

So much the pity, then, that when Our Town was made into a Hollywood film in 1940, the third act was damaged. In the movie, Emily only dreams that she has died. She delivers her final speeches in a fever from her sickbed, then recovers and returns to her life in Grover’s Corners. This makes the film happier, more sentimental, something akin, Sherman observes, to the sunny “there’s no place like home” outlook of The Wizard of Oz.

“Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption,” said T. W. Adorno. In Our Town, the light of redemption shines on the fragility of human life, revealing hidden holiness. One significant way this happens is through the singing of the Congregational church choir, which Wilder employs as a kind of hometown Greek chorus. They sing three hymns, all with eschatological themes: “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” “Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid,” and “Love Divine All Loves Excelling.” The first is of particular importance. It is sung on three occasions in the play: at choir practice on the first day, at Emily and George’s wedding, and at Emily’s funeral. “I always liked that hymn,” one of the dead in the cemetery says. “I was hopin’ they’d sing a hymn.”

The third act usually provokes a cathartic response. What is the source of that power?

The hymn affirms the resonance between heaven and earth, between fleeting mortality and eternity, which is the central truth of Our Town. As the ordinary people of Grover’s Corners share their mutual woes and bear their mutual burdens, the choir reminds us that “the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” As Eugene Peterson rendered the incarnational claim of John’s Gospel, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood”—and that blessed neighborhood is Grover’s Corners.

Read it all (emphasis mine in first sentence).

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(NYT front page) Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

The books have become some of the order’s best-sellers in recent years, a boost to the nuns, whose income as a nonprofit publisher has declined sharply in recent decades. Sister Aletheia is currently working on a new prayer book for the Advent season, leading up to Christmas.

“She has such a gift for talking about really difficult things with joy,” said Christy Wilkens, a Catholic writer and mother of six outside Austin, Texas. “She’s so young and vibrant and joyful and is also reminding us all we’re going to die.” Ms. Wilkens credits memento mori with giving her the “spiritual tools” to grapple with her 9-year-old son’s serious health issues. “It has allowed me, not exactly to cope, but to surrender everything to God,” she said.

For Sister Aletheia, having spent the previous few years meditating on mortality helped prepare her for the fear and isolation of the past year. The pandemic has been traumatic, she said. But there have also been small moments of grace, like people from the community knocking on the door to donate food to the nuns in isolation. As she wrote in her devotional, “Remembering death keeps us awake, focused, and ready for whatever might happen — both the excruciatingly difficult and the breathtakingly beautiful.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Albert Mohler–The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Reality of the Gospel

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon for Easter–Cry Freedom

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

Posted in * By Kendall, Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

The rector of Saint Michael’s Easter Sermon for 2021–Don’t Give Up, Hold It Up

Disillusionment is too weak a word to describe Mary’s crushing pain of feeling sucker punched.
Yes that Easter Sunday…Mary had given up on miracles. Have you?

Miracles: Don’t give up, hold it up 3
If so, you’re in good company. The male disciples don’t even bother showing up at the tomb…
1. Peter gave up
2. The James’s gave up
3. John gave up
4. Andrew gave up
5. Bartholomew gave up
6. Jude
7. Matthew
8. Philip
9. Simon
10. Thomas all gave up

Meaning…If you’ve given up on God—on miracles- You are not alone! There is No guilt-or
judgement in feeling as if that pattern of pain and sin will never break. WHICH IS WHY I SAY:
THANK GOD FOR THE MIRACLE THAT IS EASTER!
• Divine Intervention
• Breaking all Patterns
• Never thought break-able!

As the Disillusioned Marys and Salome walk to the tomb, literally, all HEAVEN breaks loose!
The Miracle begins..
• First…..the massive stone is gone from the entrance to the burial tomb!
And with eyes as wide as 50 cent pieces, the ladies WALK into the tomb. When a white robed
angel APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE AND SAYS five things that would break the GLOBAL
pattern of sin and pain forever!

• Fear not
• I know you’re looking for Jesus
• I know you saw Him killed
• He is not here
HE HAS RISEN!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Edith Humphrey–Seeing is Believing: Reflections on St. Thomas

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Billy Graham for Easter–‘Jesus died for all our sins, but the Bible says that Jesus “was raised again for our justification.”’

From here:

No other word in all our vocabulary is more expressive of the message of Christ than the word “resurrection.” At Calvary the little band of disciples watched their Lord Jesus die, and they saw His broken body taken from the cross. Earlier, one of them had betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. Another had cursed and had sworn that he never knew Him. Most of them, turning and running for their lives, had forsaken Him. When Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the stone was rolled against it, it seemed that this was the end of all their hopes.

Then came Easter morning, and the midnight of despair was turned into glorious dawning. It was the resurrection of all their hopes.

But Calvary does not tell the whole story. Jesus died for all our sins, but the Bible says that Jesus “was raised again for our justification.”(9)

Several years ago I talked with Chancellor Adenauer, of Germany, and he asked me, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive?”

I replied, “Yes, I do.”

He said, “So do I. If Jesus Christ is not alive, then I see no hope for the world. It is the fact of the resurrection that gives me hope for the future.” As he spoke those words, his eyes lighted up.

Indeed, the resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world: “If Christ be not risen, then our hopes and dreams and faith are in vain.”(10) “The resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world.”

But Christ is alive. And because He is alive, that makes all the difference in the world. In His resurrection evil has been defeated, Satan has been defeated, death has lost its sting, love has conquered hate, God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and all of creation bursts forth in a new song. Because Christ is alive, we can face death with confidence.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jeffrey Miller’s 2021 Easter Sermon–Easter Instructions

You can listen directly hereor download it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Max Lucado–“The Easter miracle, in other words, changed everything”

From there:

When asked the question, “What will we be after we die?” The human race has conjured up four answers.

  1. Nothing – we will decay and/or disintegrate. Death is a dead end. Our works and reputation might survive, not us.
  2. Ghosts – Phantoms of what we once were. Pale as Edgar Winters’ beard. Structured as a morning mist. What will we be after we die? Spectres.
  3. Or, hawks. Or, cows, or a car mechanic in Kokomo. Reincarnation rewards or punishes us according to our behavior. We come back to earth in another mortal body. Or,
  4. As part of the universe. Eternity absorbs us like a lake absorbs a storm. We return to what we were before we were what we are… we return to the cosmic consciousness of the universe.

According to some folks, we bury the soul when we bury the body like a wrapping with a hot dog, never expecting to see either again. Other people propose that the spirit abandons the body as a butterfly escapes the cocoon. Christianity, on the other hand, posits a new startling, surprising idea. What you had before death, you’ll have after death, only better, much, much better. You will go to paradise: heaven, but not home. Then, upon the return of Christ, you will receive a spiritual body and inhabit a restored universe. This is the promise of God. This promise hinges on the resurrection of Christ. The Christian hope depends entirely upon the assumption that Jesus Christ died a physical death, vacated an actual grave and ascended into heaven where he, at this moment, reigns as head of the church.

The Easter miracle, in other words, changed everything.

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Final Easter Sermon at the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul–He Will Draw All People to Himself

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

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

Posted in Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

More Karl Barth on Easter–‘the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great verdict of God’

To sum up, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great verdict of God, the fulfillment and proclamation of God’s decision concerning the event of the cross. It is its acceptance as the act of the Son of God appointed our representative, an act which fulfilled the divine wrath but did so in the service of the divine grace. It is its acceptance as the act of His obedience which judges the world, but judges it with the aim of saving it. It is its acceptance as the act of His Son whom He has always loved (and us in Him), whom of His sheer goodness He has not rejected but drawn to Himself (and us in Him) (Jer. 31:3). In this the resurrection is the justification of God Himself, of God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, who has willed and planned and ordered this event. It is the justification of Jesus Christ, His Son, who willed to suffer this event, and suffered it to the very last. And in His person it is the justification of all sinful men, whose death was decided in this event, for whose life there is therefore no more place. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ His life and with it their life has in fact become an event beyond death: “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 309

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Soteriology, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday sermon–Why is Easter Important?

The sermon starts about 25:30 in.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology

Martin Luther for Easter–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

More Hans Urs von Balthasar on Easter: ‘He it is who walks along paths that are no paths, leaving no trace behind’

What links them together so that, all the same, they are the history of a single being, dying, dead and now rising again? A single world meaning, which has passed away and gone, to acquire new, eternal reality, presence and future in God? This is a problem of theological logic; perhaps it is the problem that the theologians have never attended to and that, if it were taken seriously, would threaten to throw into confusion all our beautiful Archimedean drawings on paper. And yet it is what is called the Logos tou staurou, the word and the message of the Cross, by Paul, who, in Corinth, renounces all other worldly and divine wisdom because God himself “will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever. . . . Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? . . . I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Risen too, of course, the “firstfruits of the dead”. Yes, he, he is the continuity for which we have been looking, the connecting thread linking ruin and rising, which does not break even in death and hell. He it is who walks along paths that are no paths, leaving no trace behind, through hell, hell which has no exit, no time, no being; and by the miracle from above he is rescued from the abyss, the profound depths, to save his brothers in Adam along with him.

And now there is something like a bridge over this rift: on the basis of the grace of the Resurrection there is the Church’s faith, the faith of Mary; there is the prayer at the grave, the faithful watching and waiting. It is a lightly built bridge, and yet it suffices to carry us. What it spans, however, is not some indifferent medium but the void of everlasting death. Nor can we compare the two sides as if from some higher vantage point; we cannot bring the two together in some rational, logical context by using some method, some process of thought, some logic: for the one side is that of death in God-forsakenness, and the other is that of eternal life. So we have no alternative but to trust in him, knowing, as we walk across the bridge, that he built it. Because of his grace we have been spared the absolute abyss, and yet, as we proceed across the bridge, we are actually walking alongside it, this most momentous of all transformations; we do not observe it, but can only be seized and pulled into it, to be transformed from dead people into resurrected people. May the sign of this transformation be found on our Janus destiny. May its mark be branded on each of our works, those that come to an end inexplicably and those that, inexplicably, are resurrected through grace. Their two faces can never meet; they can never behold each other, and we can never link up the two ends because the rope across the chasm is too short. So we must put it into God’s hand: only his fingers can join our broken parts into a whole.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

John Piper for Easter–I Have Seen the Lord

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

William Dunbar for Easter–‘Done is a battle on the dragon black’

Done is a battle on the dragon black,
Our champion Christ confoundit has his force;
The yetis of hell are broken with a crack,
The sign triumphal raisit is of the cross,
The devillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The saulis are borrowit and to the bliss can go,
Christ with his bloud our ransonis dois indoce:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.
Dungan is the deidly dragon Lucifer,
The cruewall serpent with the mortal stang;
The auld kene tiger, with his teith on char,
Whilk in a wait has lyen for us so lang,
Thinking to grip us in his clawis strang;
The merciful Lord wald nocht that it were so,
He made him for to failye of that fang.
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Poetry & Literature

Karl Barth for Easter-‘the proclamation of a war already won’

[Easter]…is the proclamation of a war already won. The war is at an end–even though here and there troops are still shooting, because they have not heard anything yet about the capitulation. The game is won, even though the player can still play a few further moves. Actually he is already mated. The clock has run down, even though the pendulum still swings a few times this way and that. It is in this interim space that we are living: the old is past, behold it has all become new. The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them anymore. If you have heard the Easter message, you can no longer run around with a tragic face and lead the humourless existence of a man who has no hope. One thing still holds, and only this one thing is really serious, that Jesus is the Victor. A seriousness that would look back past this, like Lot’s wife, is not Christian seriousness. It may be burning behind–and truly it is burning–but we have to look, not at it, but at the other fact, that we are invited and summoned to take seriously the victory of God’s glory in this man Jesus and to be joyful in Him. Then we may live in thankfulness and not in fear.

–Karl Barth Dogmatics in Outline (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), p. 123

Posted in Christology, Church History, Easter, Eschatology, Soteriology, Theology

Karl Rahner for Easter–the Son of Man ‘cannot’ have risen alone

From here:

“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.”

Posted in Christology, Church History, Eschatology, Theology

Kate Bowler–Living into Easter Joy

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.

Rutledge says:

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!

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

C H Spurgeon on Easter–“come with me to the tomb of Jesus”

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” with joy and gladness. He does not lie there now. Weep, when ye see the tomb of Christ, but rejoice because it is empty. Thy sin slew him, but his divinity raised him up. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! he hath burst the bonds of death, he hath ungirt the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there—he is risen.
    “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
    One more thought, and then I will speak a little concerning the doctrines we may learn from this grave. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” with solemn awe for you and I will have to lie there too.

 

“Hark! from the tomb a doleful sound,
Mine ears, attend the cry,
Ye living men, come view the ground
Where ye must shortly lie.””Princes, this clay must be your bed,
In spite of all your powers.
The tall, the wise, the reverend head,
Must lie as low as ours.”


It is a fact we do not often think of, that we shall all be dead in a little while. I know that I am made of dust, and not of iron; my bones are not brass, nor my sinews steel; in a little while my body must crumble back to its native elements. But do you ever try to picture to yourself the moment of your dissolution? My friends, there are some of you who seldom realize how old you are, how near you are to death. One way of remembering our age, is to see how much remains. Think how old eighty is, and then see how few years there are before you will get there. We should remember our frailty. Sometimes I have tried to think of the time of my departure. I do not know whether I shall die a violent death or not; but I would to God that I might die suddenly; for sudden death is sudden glory. I would I might have such a blessed exit as Dr. Beaumont, and die in my pulpit, laying down my body with my charge, and ceasing at once to work and live. But it is not mine to choose. Suppose I lie lingering for weeks, in the midst of pains, and griefs, and agonies; when that moment comes, that moment which is too solemn for my lips to speak of, when the spirit leaves the clay—let the physician put it off for weeks, or years, as we say he does, though he does not—when that moment comes, O ye lips, be dumb, and profane not its solemnity. When death comes, how is the strong man bowed down! How doth the mighty man fall! They may say they will not die, but there is no hope for them; they must yield, the arrow has gone home. I knew a man who was a wicked wretch, and I remember seeing him pace the floor of his bedroom saying “O God, I will not die, I will not die.” When I begged him to lie on his bed, for he was dying, he said he could not die while he could walk, and he would walk till he did die. Ah! he expired in the utmost torments, always shrieking, “O God, I will not die.” Oh! that moment, that last moment. See how clammy is the sweat upon the brow, how dry the tongue, how parched the lips. The man shuts his eyes and slumbers, then opens them again: and if he be a Christian, I can fancy that he will say:

 

“Hark! they whisper: angels say,
Sister spirit, come away.
What is this absorbs me quite—
Steals my senses—shuts my sight—
Drowns my spirit—draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?”

We know not when he is dying. One gentle sigh, and the spirit breaks away. We can scarcely say, “he is gone,” before the ransomed spirit takes its mansion near the throne. Come to Christ’s tomb, then, for the silent vault must soon be your habitation. Come to Christ’s grave, for ye must slumber there. And even you, ye sinners, for one moment I will ask you to come also, because ye must die as well as the rest of us. Your sins cannot keep you from the jaws of death. I say, sinner, I want thee to look at Christ’s sepulchre too, for when thou diest it may have done thee great good to think of it. You have heard of Queen Elizabeth, crying out that she would give an empire for a single hour. Or have you heard the despairing cry of the gentleman on board the “Arctic,” when it was going down, who shouted to the boat, “Come back! I will give you £30,000 if you will come and take me in.” Ah! poor man, it were but little if he had thirty thousand worlds, if he could thereby prolong his life: “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, will he give for his life.” Some of you who can laugh this morning, who came to spend a merry hour in this hall, will be dying, and then ye will pray and crave for life, and shriek for another Sabbath-day. Oh! how the Sabbaths ye have wasted will walk like ghosts before you! Oh! how they will shake their snaky hair in your eyes! How will ye be made to sorrow and weep, because ye wasted precious hours, which, when they are gone, are gone too far to be recalled. May God save you from the pangs of remorse.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of York’s 2021 Easter Sermon

It’s the most profound question in the world. Who are you looking for? I mean, what are you really looking for? What is it that you seek? Whom will you follow? How will you set the compass of your life?

And then he speaks her name. For a moment she’s on time. That tender moment where time and eternity fuse together in the moment of recognition. Her eyes are opened – there – in the dawning of a new day and a whole new humanity. A spring of hope for the world that will never run dry; a love that can never be too late. Jesus: the early bird, the song thrush singing before the dawn; the pelican who feeds her young with her own shed blood; the crucified one who took upon him our flesh and plumbed the depths of grief, has been raised up. And all of God was with him in his dying. And all of us are with him in his rising.

She cries out, ‘Rabbouni! Teacher’; and she holds onto him for dear life. He is the one to follow. He is the one to build a life upon.

But she’s too early again. It is not yet that day when we are with God in paradise. There is work to be done. This new thing that you are seeing. It is for everyone. It must be shared.

Gently, he prises her hands away. ‘Do not cling to me. I have not yet ascended… but go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God.’

The endless message of Easter. The timeless message. I am rising.

She thought he was the Gardener. She was right. He is the gardener: the new Adam tending a new creation, re-planting the seeds of human destiny.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church of England, Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics