Christ is Risen

That’s the importance of the day. Jesus the Christ is risen from the dead.

A few words on some of the symbolism, The term Easter comes from the old Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, although the only real mention is from the Venerable Bede. The egg being proscribed during Lent was offered in abundance at Easter and is an obvious metaphor for rebirth. There is some evidence for a hare hunt being traditional on Good Friday but, it’s a fairly obvious sign of “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply” anyway.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. The triumph over original sin and death itself. For if you believe in the Christ and his message you will have eternal life. This is what set Christianity apart, the doctrine of grace. For if you truly repent of your sins, and attempt to live properly, you will be saved. Not by your works, especially not by your wars and killing on behalf of your faith, valid and just though they may be,  but by your faith and your faith alone. For you serve the King of Kings.

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Easter: Past and Present

source-of-power-15-nov-2009-15-638I sit here now, in the dark of an early Nebraska Saturday morn, and look back over the week we call Easter week and think it truly named.

That’s because a week ago, I was watching a friend of mine founder in a situation, not of their making, which was coming very close to stealing their soul. Who or what was involved in that situation is none of our business, but I was deeply concerned, they had not all that long ago come into conflict with their local church, and everything had gone downhill from there. They were indeed showing uncommon valor, and I was mostly reduced to the role of a spectator, not least since I had not the gleam of an idea of the solution either. But I surely resembled the Disciples on that long-ago weekend. As  Rev. Brian Hamer says in his sermon for tomorrow:

On the evening of the first Easter Sunday, the disciples were locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews. They were filled with fear, doubt, and dread over their past, their present, and their future. Yes, the disciples were scared to death. But it was in the midst of their fear and doubt that Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace be with you.” Even in the original language, Jesus’ first word to them is “peace.” See how this word is loaded with rich Gospel! Peace for Peter, who denied the Lord. Peace for Peter, James, and John, who slept in Jesus’ moment of need in the garden. Peace for the ten disciples who fled from the cross. And Jesus gave them the proof of God’s peace by showing them His hands and His side, the marks and proof of the crucifixion. This is the Man who was wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities. The disciples were filled with joy as the reality of Jesus’ resurrection gradually dawned upon them. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

And so, as I sat here, and worried, and fretted, and tried to find a solution, for my friend, and yes for myself, I mostly missed the glory of Easter, due to my earthly concerns.

And yet God works in miraculous ways, and at the end of Sunday, my friend was extricated from the situation and was able to bring another friend of ours out as well, simply because God gave them, as he did St. Thomas, a view of His grievous wounds, allowing them to see the truth, and then He gave them the courage to take control of the situation. The Epistle for tomorrow in the historic one year Lutheran Lectionary is 1 John 5 4-10.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

And so it has proved, in fact, God has even found my friends a new church, in a new city, a new job, and another person worthy of their love. Truly a new Easter for them. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer reminds us:

O, ALMIGHTY God, who art a strong tower of defence unto thy servants against the face of their enemies; We yield thee praise and thanksgiving for our deliverance from those great and apparent dangers wherewith we were compassed. We acknowledge it thy goodness that we were not delivered over as a prey unto them; beseeching thee still to continue such thy mercies towards us, that all the world may know that thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

He is Risen

That’s the importance of the day. Jesus the Christ is risen from the dead.

A few words on some of the symbolism, The term Easter comes from the old Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, although the only real mention is from the Venerable Bede. The egg being proscribed during Lent was offered in abundance at Easter and is an obvious metaphor for rebirth. There is some evidence for a hare hunt being traditional on Good Friday but, it’s a fairly obvious sign of “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply” anyway.

We have often spoken about Jesus the leader, and his unflinching dedication to the death to his mission. On Easter, this mission is revealed. It finally becomes obvious that His mission (at this time, anyway) is not of the Earth and it’s princelings. It is instead a Kingdom of souls.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. The triumph over original sin and death itself. For if you believe in the Christ and his message you will have eternal life. This is what sets Christianity apart, the doctrine of grace. For if you truly repent of your sins, and attempt to live properly, you will be saved. Not by your works, especially not by your wars and killing on behalf of your faith, valid  and just though they may be,  but by your faith and your faith alone. For you serve the King of Kings.

And as we know, the Christ is still leading the mission to save the souls of all God‘s children. It is up to us to follow the greatest leader in history or not as we choose. We would do well to remember that our God is a fearsome God but, he is also a just God. We shall be judged entirely on our merits as earthly things fall away from us. But our God is also a merciful God. So be of good cheer for the Father never burdens his people with burdens they cannot, with his help, bear.

As we celebrate the first sunrise after the defeat of darkness, Hail the King Triumphant for this is the day of His victory.

 

He is Risen indeed!

And hath appeared unto Simon!

Even Simon, the coward disciple who denied him thrice

“Christ is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon!”

to Simon Peter the favoured Apostle, on whom the Church is built

What’s Good about Friday?

Cano

In our workaday lives the answer is usually obvious – unless you are one of the increasing number of people who have to work Saturday and or Sunday – it’s Friday and it’s time for that drink and to kick off the week-end. Indeed, by the time you read this, I’ll be enjoying some holiday time myself. But this Friday is different. This Friday the world changed for ever. Whether or not you believe in Christianity, the events of this and the next few days wrought a change which, within three hundred years had conquered the Roman Empire, and which would create a force which continues to have huge influence in our world today. Who could have thought that on that black day on the hill of the skull – on Golgotha as the sky darkened and the lightning came and the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom?

Surely not those who had lived with the man just tortured to death on the Cross. Most of his male disciples, thinking themselves next in line, were in hiding. His mother was there with her sisters and with the youngest male disciple – and we can hardly imagine her grief. Fortunately a kind member of the Sanhedrin from Arimathea, Joseph, offered a tomb for the dead man, and the women bore him there and did for him what was prescribed by way of anointing; they had no time to finish the job because the Sabbath was dawning. They left the body, wrapped in grave-clothes, in that tomb. The stone was rolled across – it was done, it was over. Not one among them would have felt other than aggrieved to be told it was ‘Good Friday’ – what was good about it? An innocent man upon whom they had built such hopes had been unjustly sentenced and crucified. ‘Good’ – really?

What a day it had been. Any chance of saving Jesus had been lost when the crowds, offered the chance, chose Bar-Abbas – ironically Jewish for son of the father; Christ or a crook, and the world chose as it always would. But whilst it slept, the great miracle of our redemption was being wrought: whilst Pilate’s wife pondered what her dream had meant; whilst Herod congratulated himself on reconciling with the Romans; whilst Caiaphas acknowledged the rightness that one man should die so that the people should live; whilst the disciples cowered in the upper room; and whilst Mary his mother mourned with her female relatives, God’s plan was unfolding.

As we leave church today, in silence, we can reflect that the wisdom of this world was set at naught, not by the schemes of men and women, but by the love of God. It was love which brought Our Saviour into the world, it was love which prompted him to that supreme sacrifice – which is why all these years on, we say it is ‘Good Friday’ – the day we were bought and paid for and lifted from sin – if we will but receive his love – and respond to it.

Christ is Risen

That’s the importance of the day. Jesus the Christ is risen from the dead.

A few words on some of the symbolism, The term Easter comes from the old Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, although the only real mention is from the Venerable Bede. The egg being proscribed during Lent was offered in abundance at Easter and is an obvious metaphor for rebirth. There is some evidence for a hare hunt being traditional on Good Friday but, it’s a fairly obvious sign of “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply” anyway.

We have been talking this week about Jesus the leader, and his unflinching dedication to the death to his mission. On Easter this mission is revealed. It finally becomes obvious that His mission (at this time, anyway) is not of the Earth and it’s princelings. It is instead a Kingdom of souls.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. The triumph over original sin and death itself. For if you believe in the Christ and his message you will have eternal life. This is what set Christianity apart, the doctrine of grace. For if you truly repent of your sins, and attempt to live properly, you will be saved. Not by your works, especially not by your wars and killing on behalf of your faith, valid  and just though they may be,  but by your faith and your faith alone. For you serve the King of Kings.

And as we know, the Christ is still leading the mission to save the souls of all God‘s children. It is up to us to follow the greatest leader in history or not as we choose. We would do well to remember that our God is a fearsome God but, he is also a just God. We shall be judged entirely on our merits as earthly things fall away from us. So be of good cheer for the Father never burdens his people with burdens they cannot, with his help, bear.

As we celebrate the first sunrise after the defeat of darkness, Hail the King Triumphant for this is the day of His victory.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all.

 

[First published on  31 March 2013]

Mark 15:21-47 Crucifixion, death and burial | All Along the Watchtower

My friend Chalcedon has posted on the meaning of the Crucifixion, as it was seen by the fathers of our faith. It’s both important and interesting, so here it is.

Eusebius reminds us that no death in the ancient world was more shameful than crucifixion. Both St Cyril and Jerusalem point up the ironies that he who turnedwater into wine and took away the taste of bitterness, and who was all sweetness is given vinegar to drink and gall to eat. Jesus refused to avoid the pain which he underwent for our redemption. As Augustine tells us, he who was not able able to die unless he willed it, willed it and triumphed over the powers and principalities of darkness. Bu his death the one and most real sacrifice was offered up for us and the power of death was broken for ever. To fulfil the prophecy, he was numbered with the transgressors. We know from St Luke that one of the robbers was redeemed through his belief; on the right hand, the one who would survive, the left the one who would not – a foreshadowing, Augustine says, of the last judgment. The death of the Lord is marked by great signs in nature. Eusebius notes the fulfilment of the prophecy that on that day there would be no light.

Continue reading: Mark 15:21-47 Crucifixion, death and burial | All Along the Watchtower.

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