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.