Daily Archives: March 23, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Day Sermon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Easter Music

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Rice: My Trust in the Lord

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

The Archbishop of Melbourne's Easter Message

Watch it all and see what you think.

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

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

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

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

–Emil Brunner (1889-1966)

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

What is and Isn't True on Easter

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

”“D.L .Moody (1837-99)

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

Easter wings

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

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

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

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

Lorraine Murray: The most important promise ever made

And he will finally know what Easter is all about.

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

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

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

At heart, Easter is about conquering death.

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Seven Stanzas at Easter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–John Updike (1932- )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Message

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

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

Read it all.

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

The Most Significant thing in our world today

This is the real meaning of Easter…

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

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

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

“Because I live ye shall live also.”

That is the real meaning of Easter.

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

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

Tim Drake: Easter Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eucatastrophe

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

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

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


Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule
Shall (though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly) be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard, or foul,
And life, by this death abled, shall control
Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death, bring misery,
If in thy little book my name thou enroll,
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which ’twas;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sins sleep, and deaths soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last, and everlasting day.

”“John Donne (1572-1631)

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


RIse heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

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

The Compelling Verbs of Easter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Faith that Sustains

If I had a Son in Court, or married a daughter into a plentifull Fortune, I were satisfied for that son or that daughter. Shall I not be so, when the King of Heaven hath taken that sone to himselfe, and married himselfe to that daughter, for ever? I spend none of my Faith, I exercise none of my Hope, in this, that I shall have my dead raised to life againe. This is the faith that sustains me, when I lose by the death of others, and we, are now all in one Church, and at the resurrection, shall be all in one Quire.

”“John Donne (1572-1631) [my emphasis]

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

Easter’s Connection to Forgiveness and Restoration

This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.” Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy. Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. 0 God; where is now my Christ and my Saviour? But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all. What has now become of sin? There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm. As I am a child of Adam, they can indeed accomplish it that I must die. But since Christ has taken my sins upon himself, has died for them, has suffered himself to be slain on account of my sins, they can no longer harm me; for Christ is too strong for them, they cannot keep him, he breaks forth and overpowers them, ascends into heaven, and rules there over all throughout eternity. Now I have a clear conscience, am joyful and happy and am no longer afraid of this tyrant, for Christ has taken my sins away from me and made them his own. But they cannot remain upon him; what then becomes of them? They must disappear and be destroyed. This then is the effect of faith. He who believes that Christ has taken away our sin, is without sin, like Christ himself, and death, the devil and hell are vanquished as far as he is concerned and they can no longer harm him.

”“Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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

David Houk–The Holy Triduum: Three days to save

When I was studying for the priesthood at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, the former bishop of Albany, Dan Herzog, made a visit. During his time with faculty and students, he told a story about the power of Easter I’ve never forgotten.

Bishop Herzog told of how, just after he was ordained to the priesthood, he was the administrator of a mental hospital. And during his tenure there, he ministered to a particular woman who suffered from schizophrenia. Her treatment, however, turned out to be most unusual. During the time in which Bishop Herzog met with her for therapy, Holy Week approached. The woman took an unexpected interest. She asked if she could go to church with him on Palm Sunday. He agreed, and took her to a small Anglo-Catholic parish nearby, and there they experienced together, in the Church’s liturgy and ceremony, the drama of the Passion narrative. The woman was so moved that she wanted to come back the next day. So they went back, together, on Monday. And then they were back on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and right into the Holy Triduum, taking in the whole story of Christ’s betrayal, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. (By the way, Triduum means literally, “Three Days” in Latin””and this refers to those three holiest of days of the Christian calendar: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, beginning at the Great Vigil Saturday evening.)

I don’t remember the details about exactly when it happened, but somehow in this process of experiencing the Easter story in the liturgies of the Church, the woman was healed. Bishop Herzog chalks it up as a bona fide miracle: after celebrating the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, this woman claimed to be cured of her schizophrenia. She was evaluated, soon thereafter, and was de-institutionalized. She then got a job, and got married, and went on to lead relatively healthy life.

Now, that is truly a powerful story. And it would be the height of foolishness on my part, in relaying it, to suggest that you can expect a miracle like that if you turn out for Holy Week, or more particularly for the services of Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. (In fact, miracles are called “miracles” because they can’t be formulated or manufactured, and the Almighty seems to do them when people expect them least!)

But what you can expect, I think, if you are faithful during these holiest days of the year, if you take part in this great story of our redemption, centering your life in the passion and resurrection of Christ, is that somehow you will be changed. In some way, great or small, God’s Spirit will renew your heart and mind as you remember these “mighty acts” of Christ, transforming you in some way for your good and for his glory. And you will find yourself on Easter Sunday, in some way, a little more free, a little more healed, a little more healthy and whole.

The truth is that in all miracles, God is just showing us how he is transforming and healing all of creation. C.S. Lewis, once writing about the extraordinary miracles that occur in the Gospels, said, “I contend that in all these miracles alike the incarnate God does suddenly and locally something that God has done or will do in general. Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of Nature.”

That’s what you can expect. That in the drama of Christ’s passion and resurrection, God’s work in renewing creation will be poured deeper into your heart and life.

Father David Houk, Saint John’s, Dallas, Texas

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

God in Private and Public: Bishop Tom Wright's Maundy Thursday Sermon

Because the newly public message which is the good news of Easter is at one and the same time so obvious ”“ the message of new creation, which answers the deepest longings of the whole cosmos ”“ and so utterly unexpected that if we are to announce God in public in these terms, as Paul did so spectacularly at Athens, we need the preceding private stillness to rinse our minds out of preconceived notions and make ready for God’s startling new world. Note, by the way, that it is the public truth of Easter ”“ the dangerous, strikingly political truth that the living God is remaking the world and claiming full sovereignty over it ”“ that has been for two hundred years the real objection, in western thinking, to the notion that Jesus rose bodily from the tomb. Western thought has wanted to keep Christianity as private truth only, to turn the Lion of Judah into a tame pussy-cat, an elegant and inoffensive, if occasionally mysterious, addition to the family circle.

And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days ”“ we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more ”“ we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Pop Benedict XVI's Easter Vigil Sermon

In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” ”“ turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; conversion, the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” ”“ “Lift up your hearts”, high above the tangled web of our concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness ”“ “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: Conversi ad Dominum ”“ we must distance ourselves ever anew from taking false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must allow our hearts to be withdrawn from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

Easter Night

All night had shout of men, and cry
Of woeful women filled His way;
Until that noon of sombre sky
On Friday, clamour and display
Smote Him; no solitude had He,
No silence, since Gethsemane.

Public was Death; but Power, but Might,
But Life again, but Victory,
Were hushed within the dead of night,
The shutter’d dark, the secrecy.
And all alone, alone, alone,
He rose again behind the stone.

–Alice Meynell (1847-1922)

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

Pope to Baptize Prominent Muslim

Italy’s most prominent Muslim commentator is converting to Catholicism by being baptized by the pope at an Easter vigil, the Vatican announced Saturday.

Magdi Allam is the deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper and writes often on Muslim and Arab affairs. Born in Egypt, he has described himself as a non-practicing Muslim. He has long spoken out against extremism and in favor of tolerance.

Pope Benedict XVI was baptizing seven adults during the service, which marks the period between Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, and Easter Sunday, which marks his resurrection.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said of Allam before the service that anyone who chooses to become a Catholic of his or her own free will has the right to receive the sacrament.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Islam, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

The Bishop of Albany Writes his Diocese, Holy Saturday 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I returned home from the House of Bishops meeting and a short day and a half visit with my family in Texas late last Saturday, just in time to attend my daughter, Catie’s musical performance at Hadley Luzerne High School. With the first of my three flights being delayed taking off for over two hours, causing me to have to reschedule and reroute my follow on flights, it was truly an answer to prayer and blessing from God, that I got home in time for the performance. It was a wonderful evening. All the kids did a great job. In regard to the House of Bishops Meeting, it wasn’t quite so wonderful. I will be reporting more on that in the coming days after Easter.
I began Holy Week doing that which I enjoy most, visiting out in the Diocese. On Palm Sunday I was with Fr. Rob Holman and the people of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Elizabethtown. Following the service and reception, Fr. Rob and I went to the hospital in Plattsburgh to visit his wife Mana and newborn son, Benjamin. We give thanks to God for the birth of Benjamin and ask your prayers for Mana, who is now home recovering from complications from the delivery. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the recovery that Mana is making and ask that you will continue to bathe her in the love and healing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Welcome Home Initiative, held this past Monday through Wednesday at Christ the King SLC, which honored and ministered to combat veterans and their families, went very well. Much healing took place. This first Welcome Home Initiative was a trial session for what we hope will become a major ongoing ministry to the brave men and women who have given so much in defense of our country and fighting for the freedom of people throughout the world. I want to say a special thank you to Fr. Nigel Mumford, Lt. Col. Noel Dawes, and all the members of their team and the staff at Christ the King, for offering yourselves as a channel through which God’s love and healing grace could flow forth.

Each of the three Chrism Masses this week went very well. Monday evening, we met at the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany. Tuesday night we were at St. James, Oneonta. Wednesday, we celebrated the Chrism Mass at St. Thomas’ Church, Tupper Lake. I felt very blessed to share in the renewal of ordination vows with my fellow deacons and priests in the Diocese. I want to thank each of you who made a special effort to be there. I also would like to thank each of the three host parishes for their warm welcome and wonderful hospitality in serving dinner to all the clergy and their families in attendance.
For those who were unable to attend, extra oil for healing and chrism may be picked up at The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, or at Christ the King SLC. The appropriate way to dispose of old oil and chrism is to burn it.
Yesterday, I joined Fr. Brad Jones and the parishioners of Christ Church Schenectady, as well as a number of ecumenical brothers and sisters from local Schenectady churches for the Stations of the Cross Good Friday Procession. We walked three miles through Hamilton Hill and surrounding Schenectady neighborhoods praying the Stations and singing hymns while carrying a large wooden cross. It was a very moving and holy experience. I have prayed the Stations of the Cross numerous times over the years, but always within the confines of the Church or at a retreat center, never walking down the streets in town. No matter how hard we try, we can never adequately duplicate the journey our Lord made, dragging His cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary.
Praying the Stations, however, can give us little glimpses of the pain and suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. The howling wind and bitter cold was the first thing to greet us as we began our journey. What pain we might have experienced from the cold is trivial compared to Jesus’ pain of being whipped, scourged, beaten, and then nailed to a cross with huge nails pounded through his flesh and bone, and then hung high in the air for everyone to see. Every breath was a struggle.
As we walked the streets of Schenectady, we were greeted in a variety of ways. Some people stopped and looked, not saying a word. Some continued on with what they were doing, apparently oblivious to our presence. Others held out hands to welcome us saying God Bless You and Happy Easter. Others however, were not happy at all, as they shouted obscenities from their doorways and windows. Perhaps this last response came closest to that which our Lord experienced as he heard over and over the shouts ring out ”“ “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” As we heard the shouts of obscenities and walked past boarded up houses and littered streets, and people struggling to make a living, we witnessed first hand the brokenness of the world in which we live, and our desperate need for the love and redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our sins, joined with the sins of all of humanity, nailed Jesus to the cross. However, it wasn’t the nails that kept Him there. It was Jesus’ love for the Father and His love for each of us, that kept Him clinging to the cross, clinging until the very last sin of all time was placed upon Him ”“ the Paschal Lamb. Bearing the sins of all the world, for all time, upon Himself, Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) It was then that Jesus cried, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed his head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30).
On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead, conquering the power of sin and death. He invites us and all people who believe and trust in Him, accepting Him as Lord and Savior, to share in His resurrected and eternal life. That is the Easter message, the Good News of Jesus Christ, which the entire world so desperately needs to hear. I encourage you to invite someone you know who is in need of hearing this Good News to come with you to Church. May you and all your family and loved ones have a blessed and joyful Easter. God Bless You!!!

In Christ’s Love,

–The Rt. Rev. Bill Love is Bishop of Albany

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Holy Week, TEC Bishops

Father Raniero Cantalamessa's Good Friday Sermon

One thing must move us forward on this journey. What is in play at the beginning of the third millennium, is not the same as what was in play at the beginning of the second millennium, when there was the separation of East and West; nor is it the same as what was in play in the middle of the same millennium when there was the separation of Catholics and Protestants. Can we say that the way the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father or how justification of the sinner comes about are the problems that impassion the men of today and with which the Christian faith stands or falls? The world has moved beyond us and we remain fixed by problems and formulas that the world does not even know the meaning of.

In battles in the Middle Ages there was a moment in which, after the infantry, archers and cavalry had been overwhelmed, the melee began to circle around the king. There the final outcome of the fight was decided. Today the battle for us also takes place around the king. There are buildings and structures made of metal in such a way that if a certain neuralgic point is touched or a certain stone is removed, everything falls apart. In the edifice of the Christian faith this cornerstone is the divinity of Christ. If this is removed, everything falls apart and faith in the Trinity is the first to go.

From this we see that today there are two possible ecumenisms: an ecumenism of faith and an ecumenism of incredulity; one that unites all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that Christ died to save all humankind, and an ecumenism that unites all those who, in deference to the Nicene Creed, continue to proclaim these formulas but empty them of their content. It is an ecumenism in which, in its extreme form, everyone believes the same things because no one any longer believes anything, in the sense that “believing” has in the New Testament.

“Who is it that overcomes the world,” John writes in his first letter, “if not those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1John 5:5). Sticking with this criterion, the fundamental distinction among Christians is not between Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, but between those who believe that Christ is the Son of God and those who do not believe this.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecumenical Relations, Holy Week, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

Still Another Prayer for Holy Saturday

Merciful God,
by the death of your Son Jesus Christ
you destroyed death;
by his rest in the tomb
you have made holy
the graves of your saints.
Keep us with Christ
in the company of all who wait for you on earth
and all who surround you in heaven;
where he lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

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