Tuesday in Easter Week

The collect for today, Tuesday in Easter Week, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Lesson: Acts 13:26-41
The Gospel: St. Luke 24:36-48

Rembrandt, Christ Appearing to the ApostlesArtwork: Rembrandt, Christ Appearing to the Apostles, 1656. Etching, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Monday In Easter Week

The collect for today, Monday in Easter Week, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Lesson: Acts 10:34-43
The Gospel: St. Luke 24:13-35

ter Brugghen, Supper at EmmausArtwork: Hendrick ter Brugghen, The Supper at Emmaus, c. 1621. Oil on canvas, Sanssouci Picture Gallery, Potsdam, Germany.

Sermon for Easter, 10:30am Holy Communion

“One thing is needful”

Christ is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia! He is Risen, Indeed. Alleluia, Alleluia! Such is the ancient Easter greeting for this day and this season. It is a joyous proclamation. But what does it mean? It celebrates a whole new way of looking at life and reality, to be sure, and yet one which is mystifying and perplexing to our prosaic and ordinary views on life. How so? Because it challenges all of our ancient and modern assumptions. That it does so is the radical good news of the Resurrection.

What it proclaims, quite simply, is that death isn’t everything. It isn’t the end of the story of you. Or to put it in another way, we are more than our experiences, more than our complaints, more than our sufferings and more than our deaths. We are even more than the things which make us tiresome and boring to others not to mention ourselves! We are more than our dying and death. “As dying, we live”. The Resurrection is radical new life because it changes death and therefore changes how we live. The radical idea is about our living for God and for one another. The radical idea is that God makes something more and greater out of our sin and evil; the ultimate triumph of the goodness and love of God.

We don’t want to hear about sin and evil, to be sure. And yet that is a necessary part of the good news of the Resurrection. Christ’s Resurrection is the overcoming of sin and death. His Crucifixion marks the triumph of good over evil in the very face and experience of evil. How we may ask? It is the lesson of Good Friday where in the crucifixion all sin – sin in its fullest array and force – is gathered into the greater love of the Son for the Father. But what does it mean for you and me? It means a new sense of who we are. For if we are just our thoughts, words and deeds, if we are just our actions, then we are nothing. Dead in our sins and nothing more.

The Resurrection is the strongest possible affirmation of human dignity and freedom. We are freed to God. Our humanity is radically incomplete without God. The highest and the greatest good of our humanity, individually and collectively speaking is found in our communion with God. Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection are the two inseparably related concepts that overcome the separation between man and God and unite us to God. The love that creates is the love that recreates and restores. The Resurrection is God’s great second act after Creation. Redemption is Creation restored in and through the negativity of sin and death. Such is the grace of God.

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Sermon for Easter, 8:00am Holy Communion

“One thing is needful”

Christ is risen. Alleluia, Alleluia! The one thing needful is the proclamation of the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, “early when it was yet dark,” John tells us. She “seeth the stone taken away.” And so it begins. She runs to tell the others, apostle apostolorum, an apostle to the apostles, as the Fathers put it. She says “to Simon Peter and to the other disciple” that “they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” He is not there. Who has taken him? Who are ‘they’ that “have taken [him] away”? Confronting something that counters her expectation, she suspects a conspiracy, it seems. Don’t we all? Simon Peter and “that other disciple” run and see. They, too, find only an empty tomb. And so it continues. It is the Resurrection. An intriguing and perhaps interesting idea?

Perhaps we feel the same way that the British travel writer, Alexander Kinglake, felt about seeing churches in England and wanting to inscribe upon their lintels the caveat, “interesting, if true.” Is that where we are with the Resurrection, “interesting, if true”?

If so, why are we here? Because the idea of the Resurrection has a strong hold on us, the hold of truth. It has changed the world, quite literally, one would have to say, and that, at least, is true historically speaking from the standpoint of social, political and cultural developments. The rise and spread of Christianity, its struggles and contests, first, with Jewish and ancient pagan culture, Greek and Roman, then, its conflicts and disputes with Islam, as well as its internal debates and arguments between east and west, Greek and Latin, Catholic and Protestant, and, then, with the rise of modernity and even modern science with all of its ambiguities and uncertainties that comprise our post-modern experience; how could one possibly think to explain any of that story apart from the Resurrection? It is the central defining truth of the Christian Faith, whether one believes it or not. That much can and must be said and cannot be gainsaid whether you are Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist in terms of our cultural history. We are here because we cannot not think it, even if our world and culture has forgotten and rejected it.

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