Category : Easter

More NT Wright for Easter 2019–His Easter Sermon at St. Paul’s Hammersmith

The Rev’d Professor N.T Wright is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop. He writes about theology, Christian life, and the relationship of these two things and has written over seventy books. He is a guest speaker throughout Easter 2019.

Listen to it all (about 24 1/3 minutes).

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

NT Wright for Easter 2019–We have seen the future in the resurrection of Jesus and it is real

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

More Poetry for Easter 2019–Christopher Smart’s Easter Day

O GLADNESS! that suspend’st belief
For fear that rapture dreams;
Thou also hast the tears of grief,
And failst in wild extreams.

Tho’ Peter make a clam’rous din,
Will he thy doubts destroy?
Will little Rhoda let him in,
Incredulous with joy?

And thus thro’ gladness and surprize
The saints their Saviour treat;
Nor will they trust their ears and eyes
But by his hands and feet.

These hands of lib’ral love indeed
In infinite degree,
Those feet still frank to move and bleed
For millions and for me.

A watch, to slavish duty train’d,
Was set by spiteful care,
Lest what the sepulchre contain’d
Should find alliance there.

Herodians came to seal the stone
With Pilate’s gracious leave,
Lest dead and friendless, and alone,
Should all their skill deceive.

O dead arise! O friendless stand
By seraphim ador’d—
O solitude! again command
Thy host from heav’n restor’d.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Poetry & Literature

(Scotsman) Gavin Matthews: We must find the right response to Sri Lanka Easter Sunday massacre

The foundational idea of Easter is that Jesus was ‘given’ to the world. Behind the religious violence of his death, we are invited to believe that, “God so loved the world that he gave his son”, and that Jesus “laid down his life for his friends”. Our first instinct should then be to give to the victims of religious violence and persecution. The Christian charity csw.org.uk works tirelessly for the freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and none. Giving to an organisation such as this might be our first response.

Then, on Good Friday, when Jesus was executed by the Roman soldiers, he famously cried out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” – and this should frame our second response.

Jesus recognised that the foot-soldiers who were setting about his physical destruction were not the authors of his agonies, but were mere pawns in bigger schemes. Critically though, Jesus didn’t send his followers off to indiscriminately kill Roman citizens in response, but prayed for their salvation.

Today, offering Christian forgiveness does not mean that the state should not pursue justice through due process. However, it does mean that we cannot indulge in acts of revenge or hostility to anyone or any community, or propagate cycles of violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Sri Lanka, Terrorism

An Easter Conversation with Archbishop Foley Beach

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Easter, Eschatology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O Blessed Lord, who didst promise thy disciples that through thy Easter victory their sorrow should be turned to joy, and their joy no man should take from them: Grant us, we pray thee, so to know thee in the power of thy resurrection, that we may be partakers of that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory; for thy holy name’s sake.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Irish Prayer Book

Look, we beseech thee, O Lord, upon the people of this land who are called after thy holy name, that they may ever walk worthy of their Christian profession. Grant unto us all that, laying aside our divisions, we may be united in heart and mind to bear the burdens which are laid upon us, and be enabled by patient continuance in well-doing to glorify thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

More Music for Easter 2019–Sunrise at Easter

Carl Nielsen – Overture Helios – Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O God our Father, who hast taught us that our citizenship is in heaven, and hast called us to tread a pilgrim’s path here on earth: Guide us, we pray thee, on our journey through this world to the Celestial City; defend us from the perils that await us in the way; give us grace to endure faithfully to the end; and at the last bring us to thy eternal joy; through the mercy of thy Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Kendall Harmon–The Compelling Verbs of Easter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Easter, Eschatology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Mozarabic Sacramentary

We give thee thanks, O heavenly Father, who hast delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of thy Son; grant, we pray thee, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer For Easter from Daily Prayer

O God, the living God, who hast given unto us a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: Grant that we, being risen with him, may seek the things which are above, and be made partakers of the life eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

—Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Still More Music for Easter–Keith Green – Easter Song

Listen it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

One Way Out of the Cul de Sac – Bishop Mark Lawrence offers more Thoughts for Easter

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.

Read it all.

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

The Heidelberg Catechism on Easter

Q & A 45

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection
benefit us?

A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,
so that he might make us share in the righteousness
he obtained for us by his death.1

Second, by his power we too
are already raised to a new life.2

Third, Christ’s resurrection
is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.3

1 Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
2 Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4
3 Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21

Posted in Church History, Easter

Jerri Savuto–Easter Memories: Escaping the Commercial Trap

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter

(ACNS) An Easter Message from the Archbishop of South Sudan, Justin Badi Arama

My dear Christians and all citizens of South Sudan, peace be with you.

Easter celebration this year should be to us the celebration of hope for lasting peace in our beloved country South Sudan. Easter is about a start of a new life after death.

On the first day of resurrection, the word of peace was the first gift of the risen Lord to His discouraged and fearful disciples. He said to them: “peace be with you”. And to Mary, who was worried and crying, He asked: “Woman, why are you crying?”

Indeed, as South Sudanese, we find ourselves in the same situations of worries and crying as Mary did due to the prolonged suffering caused to us by the senseless war in our Country.

But the good news is that, at Easter all our tears and fears are turned to joy and hope for peace.

Read it all.

Posted in --South Sudan, Easter

An Easter Benedictus to Begin the Day

Blessed be Thou, O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to Thine abundant mercy didst beget us again unto a living hope by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us who are kept by Thy power through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Whom having not seen, we love; to Whom with Thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, praise and dominion, for ever and ever.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Stephen Noll for Easter 2019–The Half-Empty Tomb

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.”

Read it all.

[Photo: St John’s, Johns Island SC]

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

More Music for Easter 2019–How Can I keep from Singing–Audrey Assad

Lyrics:

I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing
It finds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing

What though my joys and comforts die
The Lord my Savior liveth
What though the darkness gather round
Songs in the night He giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth
How can I keep from singing

I lift mine eyes the cloud grows thin
I see the blue above it
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart
A fountain ever springing
All things are mine since I am His
How can I keep from singing

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Bishop Tom Wright–The Uncomfortable Truth of Easter

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.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O Living Lord, who on the first Easter Day didst stand in the midst of thy disciples as the conqueror of sin and death, and didst speak to them thy peace: 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; for the glory of thy great name.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

More Music for Easter 2019–Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

Lyrics:

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought his Israel
into joy from sadness;
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke
Jacob’s sons and daughters;
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

2 ‘Tis the spring of souls today;
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death
as a sun hath risen;
all the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

3 Now the queen of seasons, bright
with the day of splendor,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,
who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus’ resurrection.

4 Neither might the gates of death,
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal
hold thee as a mortal:
but today amidst thine own
thou didst stand, bestowing
thine own peace, which evermore
passeth human knowing.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

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, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Commonweal) B D McClay–You Can’t Earn Easter Finding Joy as Real as Sorrow

Does our response to Easter reflect poorly on us? There’s not a simple answer. Easter is simply a more challenging subject than Christmas; in that sense, it’s only to be expected. It could also be that there’s some amount of modern unease with enthusiastically declaring you think somebody, historically, did really come back from the dead—that, while Christians still live in expectation, they believe some of their expectations have already been fulfilled in history. Christianity is more easily lived as a sort of everlasting Ingmar Bergman film: better to expect and expect and never have to deal with the realization of expectation—to enjoy, even prioritize, uncertainty, doubt, and anguish.

Another reason, I suspect: Christianity, or at least American Christianity, has a difficult relationship with joy. (Though given that the most recent papal exhortation is called “rejoice and be glad,” perhaps it’s a global problem.) For those American Christians whose faith has been shaped—inevitably—by a reaction to the various feel-good Christianities that abound, the safest thing to do is simply to avoid any occasion of happiness. Focusing on anything other than the cross feels like cheap grace, a concession to the facile optimism all around us. We don’t deserve Easter, the general upbeat nature of the culture makes it impossible to celebrate properly anyway, and as soon as is humanly possible we should retreat back into the shadows.

It would certainly be foolish to claim that American culture is overly penitential, or that we aren’t ridden with cheap grace. But all grace, by definition, is undeserved; that applies no less to the brooding intellectual than it does to the flagrantly wicked. And what distinguishes cheap grace from grace isn’t the extremity of our penance or devotion to suffering (read: brooding), but recognition of sin and a contrite heart—not, precisely, the same thing. Avoiding cheap grace may mean avoiding grace altogether.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Book of Common Order

Almighty God, who broughtest again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the glorious Prince of Salvation, with everlasting victory over sin and the grave: Grant us power, we beseech thee, to rise with him to newness of life, that we may overcome the world with the victory of faith, and have part at last in the resurrection of the just; through the merits of the same risen Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Edith Humphrey–Seeing is Believing: Sunday of 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, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Easter Message from South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence

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

Posted in * South Carolina, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Exploring two Great Easter Themes: Forgiveness and Hope

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.

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