The Biola Lent Project site (the Biola devotionals will continue for the first week following Easter)
Other sites I visit & recommend:
The Biola Lent Project site (the Biola devotionals will continue for the first week following Easter)
Other sites I visit & recommend:
Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by thy life-giving Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
As I write this weeks Bishop’s Note, I am smack dab in the middle of the planning and preparations for all of the truly beautiful and intricate liturgies of Holy Week, along with the sermons that accompany them. Additionally, I am smack dab in the middle of several sensitive pastoral situations and the daily cares and concerns of my family. In other words – I’m smack dab in the middle of life! We live in a fallen world – a world that knows pain and suffering; sin and death – and this Holy Week we are reminded very clearly of that reality. However, in our Easter celebrations we are reminded once again that Sin and Death do not have the final word. Jesus had, and has, the final word with his glorious resurrection two thousand years ago.
Allow the words of these weeks collect to wash over you. Note that there is no hesitation, no wavering, no doubt or fear that so often accompany the voice of the world around us. “Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life,” This is a profound proclamation of our faith that is grounded in the reality of the resurrection! On that first Easter Sunday, Jesus completed what the Law and the Prophets could not do. With the Fall of Adam and Eve came death and sin, and with the resurrection of Jesus Christ came eternal life with God for all who would put their trust in him.
Jesus’ resurrection demands a response, and the “Easter Bunny” just won’t cut it. Note that the petition in the collect is not: “Allow us to have a beautiful day full of joy and happiness.” The appropriate response to the resurrection is a deep desire to live a godly and holy life that overcomes sin and death: “Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by thy life-giving Spirit….”
The “death of sin” is not only the end of our earthly life – the final beats of our heart. It is the death that comes when we compromise and tell ourselves, “My sin is not really that bad – I’m better than Joe or Mary.” With that kind of compromise comes the rationalization that sin is a relative term: “What is sin anyway but just a little mistake.” And with that rationalization comes the spiritual death that this prayer speaks against.
Rather than hate the sin in our lives, we tell ourselves to love it – to accept it. Before too long we compromise on other things as well. We don’t need to pray daily, or read scripture daily, and when there are more entertaining things to do on Sunday, well, we certainly don’t need to go to church. All of this rationalization and compromise leads to a void in our lives, and an ache in our souls, that only the Risen Lord can fill by the power of his life-giving Spirit!
I pray that this Easter Sunday, and every day, you and your family will be filled with that same life-giving Spirit; that same power of the risen Lord; that same joy and awe that comes when we realize that Jesus didn’t die and rise again for some unnamed, unknown person out there somewhere, but that he died and rose again for YOU!
I pray you all a Happy and Blessed Easter!
Thanks as always to Fr. Dale at Soundings for posting these reflections on the Collects. Bp. Eric Menees is the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
One of my favorite recent blog finds (discovered during Lent 2012) is the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s blog. (The Rev. Comerford is Canon at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland). Today in his post for the Seventh Sunday of Easter – the Sunday between Ascension Day and Pentecost, he mentions one of his favorite hymns: How Shall I Sing That Majesty.
It’s a hymn I did not know – but what a wonderful hymn of adoration!
How shall I sing that majesty
Which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
Thy throne, O God most high;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
Thy praise; but who am I?
Thy brightness unto them appears,
Whilst I Thy footsteps trace;
A sound of God comes to my ears,
But they behold Thy face.
They sing because Thou art their sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
For where heaven is but once begun
There alleluias be.
Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
Inflame it with love’s fire;
Then shall I sing and bear a part
With that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
With all my fire and light;
Yet when Thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.
How great a being, Lord, is Thine,
Which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
To sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
A sun without a sphere;
Thy time is now and evermore,
Thy place is everywhere.
We’re pretty busy here with our Global Day of Prayer / Prayer for the Nations blogging series…, so no time to do too much about Ascension Day, sorry!
But fortunately some fellow Anglican bloggers have some great blog entries:
Anglican Daily Prayer: Ascension Day: What is and is to be
Kendall Harmon: A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension (I)
and browse through Kendall’s entire Ascension blog category
Ohio Anglican: Feast of the Ascension
Patrick Comerford’s 2008 reflection on the Ascension
See some of our past Ascension Day favorites here.
From John Stott during this Easter Season:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ also assures of God’s power. For we need God’s power in the present as well as his forgiveness of the past. Is God really able to change human nature, to make cruel people kind and sour people sweet? Is he able to take people who are dead to spiritual reality and make them alive in Christ? Yes, he really is! He is able to give life to the spiritually dead and transform us into the likeness of Christ.
h/t the Beach Blog
Desiring God recently reposted a short article / list by John Piper originally written in 1986 about “the results” of the resurrection – i.e. the blessings we enjoy as a result of the fact that Christ is risen:
1) A savior who can never die again. “For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again.” Romans 6:9
2) Repentance. “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel.” Acts 5:31
3) New birth. “By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
4) Forgiveness of sin. “If Christ has not been raised, your hope is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:17
5) The Holy Spirit. “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.” Acts 2:32-33
Yesterday at Barnstorming, a blog that has quickly become a favorite of mine due to the beautiful photos, great quotes, and profound reflections, Emily posted a beautiful and powerful Easter devotional. Yesterday I posted her initial quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins. Below is the full devotional.
Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time as I return to my daily routine. In mere days, the humdrum replaces the extraordinary, tragedy overcomes festivity, darkness overwhelms dawn. The world encourages this, and I don’t muster enough resistance. I climb right back into the tomb of my sin, move the huge stone back in place, and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.
I am not alone. I have plenty of company with me behind the stone. There is no excuse for us to be there still.
The stone is pushed aside, the burden shouldered, the debt completely paid. How can we allow the light to dim?
He is risen. We are eastered.
I need to live that truth, not wait for rot.
Note: I normally would post only an excerpt but the whole entry is so lovely, I want to make sure I have it saved here should the link ever go bad. I definitely recommend adding Barnstorming to your bookmarks. I’ve been SO glad I did! Go browse Emily’s beautiful blog and feast your eyes and your soul.
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins
I’ve never thought of using “Easter” as a verb, asking Jesus to “Easter” in me. But this quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins posted at Barnstorming today as part of a beautiful Easter reflection / devotional has made me pray just that:
“Jesus, Easter in me today” – renew in my heart and my life the reality that You are risen and that in You, I am a new creation, raised with You to new life.
I will post the devotional text from Barnstorming separately tomorrow. But certainly go read it for yourselves now. It’s beautiful and powerful.
A few weeks ago, I came across a beautiful and powerful Easter Meditation by George Guthrie called “Echoes from the Tomb.” I don’t recall how I found the link, but I highly recommend reading this!
Leaning forward, you strain to hear. The fresh, cool breeze of the garden morning brushes your cheek. Bending, you look into that open, black-dark mouth of the tomb, its only light the sun’s thin finger reaching past your shoulder to touch the corner of a bone box. But the bones for which it waits have changed, gotten up and walked away. No smell of death; only the sweet scent of burial spices hanging in the air.
Bouncing off the walls of this vacated tomb, you may hear echoes from another garden where the lie, “Has God really said?” prevailed, and death was ushered in. But now, in this garden the lie has been silenced with a resounding, “Yes!! His Word lives!” and death has been driven out, the curse of Eden swallowed up in this empty space.
And do you hear the echo of righteous Noah, who built a deliverance to carry God’s creations through the judgment, or Father Abraham, through whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed? Do you hear the echoes of Egypt’s oppressive slavery turned inside-out in powerful salvation, and at its peak an innocent lamb slain so that death would pass over? Do you hear the echo of new life found through parting waters, or of bread, water, and the Shekinah tent given in a wilderness? Do you hear the death-dealing law, unable to give life, at once fulfilled and filled full by the Life? Do you hear these echoes?
Read the rest here. And be encouraged how all history is HIS Story and points to the victory of the resurrection and the empty tomb!
Hallelujah! He is Risen!
A great post at the Rector’s Corner blog this morning on praying the Pascha Nostrum throughout the 50 Days of Easter.
Christ our PassoverPascha nostrum
1 Corinthians 5:7‑8; Romans 6:9‑11; 1 Corinthians 15:20‑22
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us; *
therefore let us keep the feast,
Not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, *
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Alleluia.
Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; *
death no longer has dominion over him.
The death that he died, he died to sin, once for all; *
but the life he lives, he lives to God.
So also consider yourselves dead to sin, *
and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Alleluia.
Christ has been raised from the dead, *
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since by a man came death, *
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, *
so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia.
The rector who writes the blog, Brandon Filbert, writes:
The point to be remembered is that the Pascha nostrum underscores the power of Christ’s rising as a complete break with the old life…something that each Christian must not only celebrate at Eastertide, but learn to live in the daily life of discipleship.Praying these words will, at times, cast the light of the Resurrection on those corners of our life we are still trying to live the old way, with “the leaven of malice and evil.” For that knowledge we need to give thanks: it is the active work of the Spirit in our life as Christians this Eastertide and always.
Browsing through the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s recent Easter blog entries, I discovered that NT Wright has written Six Easter Hymns as part of the Libretto for Paul Spicer’s Easter Oratorio. (see also: here and here for more about Paul Spicer and the Oratorio.)
Easter Hymn 6, by NT Wright
Ye choirs of new Jerusalem
Your sweetest notes employ,
The Paschal victory to hymn
In strains of holy joy.
How Judah’s Lion burst his chains,
And crushed the serpent’s head;
And brought with him, from death’s domains,
The long-imprisoned dead.
From hell’s devouring jaws the prey
Alone our Leader bore;
His ransomed hosts pursue their way
Where he hath gone before.
Triumphant in his glory now
His sceptre ruleth all,
Earth, heaven, and hell before him bow,
And at his footstool fall.
While joyful thus his praise we sing,
His mercy we implore,
Into his palace bright to bring
And keep us evermore.
All glory to the Father be,
All glory to the Son,
All glory, Holy Ghost, to thee,
While endless ages run. Alleluia! Amen.
There is more background information and links and pictures at the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s blog.
UPDATE: the hymn posted above is a slightly revised version of a 1000-year-old hymn by Fulbert of Chartres. You can see that version at the Cyber Hymnal.
… the Easter message is so much more than sunny weather, pretty new clothes, colored eggs, and chocolate bunnies. On the contrary, it’s a message of hope with real-world ramifications. And it has the power to change lives and inspire courage and heroism in the face of suffering and tyranny.
from a recent blog entry “The Easter Message and Christian Hope” at Creedal Christian – read the whole entry.
Glen’s April 16th entry at the King’s English gives a little picture of what it means to live in the hope of the Resurrection, trusting in our Redeemer:
Whatever we tack onto the end of our stories of suffering gives a little window onto our theology of suffering. [...]
Recently, I heard a wonderful line. It came from a woman suffering from terminal cancer. How would you finish a sentence that begins “I have 6 months to live”? She said, “…Still, nothing a resurrection won’t fix.” Now that’s Christian consolation.
And it’s the very heart of the book of Job. In amongst all the suffering there is resurrection hope:
“I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19:25-27)
Who does Job look forward to seeing? Not just his Saviour – someone who would rescue him out of suffering. Job looks forward to seeing His Redeemer. That’s different. A Redeemer won’t just pull me out of the pit. A Redeemer will join me in it and transform the pit to paradise. That’s very different.
Jesus is not a Replacer, snatching away the old and giving us something entirely different. He’s a Redeemer who comes into our suffering and transforms it.
Think of Doubting Thomas. When Thomas finally confesses Jesus to be “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28), what was he looking at? He was looking at scars! Jesus had bared His wounds to Thomas and told him to “behold” his hands and side. And beholding the wounds of Jesus, Thomas sees the glory of his Lord and God.
Here’s the point: Jesus did not cast off his wounds in the resurrection. His wounds were redeemed in the resurrection. They were transformed into badges of divine glory. And what Jesus did with His wounds, He will do with all our wounds. Through His resurrection He will not sweep aside our frailties and failures – He will transform them.
Often when we suffer we simply want rid of the situation. But Jesus wants to do something better. He doesn’t waste our suffering. He never considers it a dead loss. Somehow he will redeem the situation. Somehow He will redeem every situation. The scars we bear will become scar stories and testimonies to His grace. If Jesus can redeem the suffering of the cross then He can and He will redeem any suffering – yours included.
The following devotional is from the Barnstorming blog, which posted some fantastic Lenten devotionals this year. This post, No Fear, appeared in Lent, but focuses on Christ’s words to His disciples following His resurrection: “Do Not Be Afraid,” so I’ve been saving it as an Easter entry. May we indeed find that the power of Christ’s love and the assurance of His victory over the forces of sin, death and hell will destroy fear in our lives and make us bold witnesses for Him.
Art Credit: Web Gallery of Art
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear
1 John 4:18
The community of faith and community of life in the first love was marked by the risen Christ–the Christ who had said, “I am with you always.” Everything depends on seeing the mystery of the risen Christ as unconditional love. In Christ, God’s love is put into practice.
Of course there was plenty to fear. There had been a brutal arrest in a garden, facilitated by one of His own. The rest ran or actively denied involvement. There was a hasty hearing, and a trial of sorts, and then beatings and condemnation by acclamation. There was the impossible task of lugging a heavy cross up hill, then being attached by nails, hung, dehydrated, denigrated, left to die.
Plenty, plenty to fear. Those who loved Him were terrified.
When they returned after the Sabbath to care for His body, still concerned for their own safety, they heard again very familiar words: “Do not be afraid.” He was conceived and born under those words, and after His death, those were among the first words they heard the risen Christ say, and He repeated them as often as they needed to hear them, which was often.
Do not be afraid.
Perfect love casts out fear. As we are so flawed, so incapable of perfect-anything, we fear, and fear desperately. But because He is capable of perfect unconditional love, He demonstrates that love tangibly and palpably: breaking bread, breaking Himself, pouring wine, pouring out Himself. He creates an everlasting community of love by promising to be with us always. So we put it into practice with each other, and especially with those who are strangers and enemies.
Why fear any longer? He is walking alongside us illuminating our minds and filling our hearts, He is at the table feeding us, He is holding us as we pass into His arms.
love has no fear
Kendall Harmon has posted an excerpt of the Rev. Patrick Allen’s Easter Sermon – what a WONDERFUL summary of the truth of what Christ’s resurrection means – “normal is dead.” Hallelujah!
Easter means that Jesus is alive and normal is dead. Nothing, not even death, is certain, and in fact death is defeated, has met its match in Love Himself.
The tomb is empty – empty as in vacant; empty as in powerless. Death – life’s great certainty; the most normal, expected, routine, trustworthy thing going, in fact a sure thing, has come untrue in Christ.