Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday and Holy Week

Holy Week
The week starting on Palm Sunday and continuing through the Saturday before Easter is commonly called Holy Week and the week in which the passion of our Savior is commemorated.  The week starts with the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ends with the death of the Savior on the Cross and the burial of His body in the tomb.  It is a week of ups and downs without parallel and precedes the most joyous day of the year, the Day of the Resurrection or Easter Sunday.

Jesus has a triumphant entry into the city on the First Day of the Week (Sunday); on Thursday night he celebrates the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, he prays and agonizes over what he knows is coming in the garden of Gethsemane; Judas betrays him early Friday morning, his most trusted disciple denies him; the Jews condemn him to Pilate who in turn orders him to be beaten and humiliated; that does not satisfy the Jews and at their request, Pilate condemns a man he knows to be innocent to a horrible death to pacify the crowd of Jews assembled by the priests; Jesus is crucified, asks John to take care of his mother and gives up the ghost; his body is taken down and buried; the disciples are dispersed and discouraged; they have listened to their Lord, but not understood.

Think of this week from the disciples’ perspective, on the first day they enter with their leader into Jerusalem in triumph; mid-week they celebrate the joyous feast of the Passover, then their leader is betrayed, defends himself not and is killed.  At the time they surely could not think of this as a Holy Week and certainly not a Good Friday.  Yet on the first day of the week that follows, our Lord is Risen, Risen indeed and delivers the promise of salvation in person.

What a week!

On Monday, Jesus preached in the Temple and further distanced Himself from the people’s vision and demonstrated God’s vision.  He went in to the temple and through out the vendors selling “sacrificial” birds and animals at exorbitant cost, as well as the moneychangers, changing Roman money for Temple money dishonestly.  Far from announcing Himself head of the temple, He announced they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Rather than working within the Jewish establishment, He over turned it!

Jesus and the Pharisees dispute in the Temple. He left for the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. There he delivers the “Mount of Olives Discourse”. Judas agrees to betray him to the Jewish priests for 30 pieces of silver.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas Iscariot, keeper of the purse, were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor.  “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”  In this case, Judas recalls to mind many politicians.  Jesus reminded them of the importance of first things first and the futility of giving, rather than helping, when He said in Matthew 26.11 “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.”  Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for silver. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Judas spied on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane where he came on his plan.

Maundy Thursday
At the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples share the “Last Supper” and He washes their feet. Jesus blesses his bread and wine as his flesh and blood and shares it with his disciples, the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He informs them that one of them will betray him. They go back to the garden of Gethsemane.

Good Friday
Good Friday was the day in which Jesus was tried by the Jews, tried by Pilate, condemned, crucified, died and was buried[1].  Except in hindsight, this was not a Good Friday at all. 
In the early hours before sunup, Jesus is betrayed by the “Judas Kiss” and arrested. At sunrise, he is disowned by Peter thrice before the cock croweth. When brought before Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, and his Council, he is condemned. He says that he will rise from death after three days.

They hand him over to the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, who sends him to Herod (Antipas, the son of Herod the Great). Then Pilate asks the crowd who he is to pardon: a murderer, or Jesus? The crowd chooses Barabas and Jesus is sentenced to death. Pilate’s actions made famous the line, “I wash my hands of this.”  While he might have attempted to wash the guilt for the murder of the world’s one truly innocent man on to the Jews, he remains the one who condemned him to death.  Pilate was nothing if not a politician and bureaucrat.  The condemnation was to him the simplest solution to the problem of a Jewish hierarchy’s manufactured crowd’s anger.  What was the death of one Jew to him?  Yet he was worried enough to attempt to wash his hands of the guilt.

Jesus is brought to Calvary, where on the “third hour” (9 am) he is crucified. He is mocked as he hangs between the Bad Thief and the Good Thief, whom he blesses. On the “sixth hour” (noon), darkness covers the land. Jesus cries out “My God, My God, hast Thou forsaken Me? ”

After drinking wine, he commits his spirit to his Father and dies. Matthew reports an earthquake that destroys the Temple. Many understand now that Jesus was the Son of God. His body is taken down and anointed. He is buried in a cave. This is the first day of death.

Jack Arnold read the Epistle for Good Friday, which comes from the Tenth Chapter of Saint Paul’s letter to the Hebrews beginning at the First Verse.

HE law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from hence-forth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; then saith he, And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The Gospel, much like the Gospel for Palm Sunday was read as a participatory reading and was so effective as to make the hair on the back of one’s neck stand up at points.  The Gospel came from the Nineteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the First Verse:

ILATE therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every sol-dier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Sermon – Time and Action
Good Friday’s sermon is contained in the BC strip below.  It pretty much covers the meaning of Good Friday.  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.  John 3.16

Holy Saturday
The Jewish Council remembers his vow to return and has the tomb guarded and sealed with a heavy stone. Second day of death. From the time Jesus left his body on the cross until the resurrection, little is known.  It is said in the Apostle’s Creed that “He descended into hell”, where he did battle with the Devil for our souls, a battle the Devil was destined to lose.

Easter Sunday
On the third day of death, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find the tomb empty, but for an angel who tells them Jesus is already resurrected and is on His way to Galilee. On their way to tell the others, Jesus appears to them.  Death is conquered, the Promise delivered.  Our lives from this day forward are eternal!

Think about the Week that was!
The reason Jesus came to Jerusalem at the Passover was to take the place of the yearly sacrifice by one perfect sacrifice, one time, for all time and for all mankind. His was the blood marking our door that the destroyer might pass over.  The week started on a triumphant note and ended up trying to do between there were windows into the future, glimpses of the past, moments of despair, moments of terror, moments of confusion; but in the end joy and the ultimate triumph.

Easter Sunday

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, “Christ the Lord is Risen today!”  Our sunrise temperature on Mount Olympus was a nice 53°F under the beautiful sunny skies of a mild Santa Ana.  In recognition of Easter, we had a Sonrise service which started at 1030.  Hey, this is California, how early do you expect!  Plus, a number of our people have long way to come, Ryan flew in from the East Coast just in time for the service!  So, with Scott Berry, we had five people for service!

Gathering Song
Jack Arnold played Hymn 85 – Jesus Christ is Risen Today for the gathering song.

Hymn 85 – Jesus Christ is risen today

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

We try to pick our gathering songs to have a wonderful message, be easy to sing and suitable for guitar accompaniment.  What better song for Easter than the one for which the day is named?

Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister or our Deacon Striker.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.

The Propers for today are found on Page 163-164, with the Collect first:

Easter Sunday.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY 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 preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout Easter Week.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle, which came from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians, beginning at the First Verse of the Third Chapter:

f ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 

As usual, Paul is exhorting us to be the New Man, to put away the trappings of the old and go forward.  He asks us to do what anyone who is successful does, hang around with those you want to be like in the end and to emulate their actions.  In this case rather that earthly success, Paul is helping prepare us for eternal success through salvation.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read the Holy Gospel which came from the Twentieth Chapter of the Gospel of Saint John beginning at the First Verse.  It is the straightforward accounting of the discovery by Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and John that the Lord was risen indeed.

he first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Today is Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The central event of not only the Christian Year; but of Christianity and the entire world.  Witness the terms AD and BC.  Anno Domini and Before Christ.

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect…

In the Collect, we acknowledge that God sent His Son to be our Savior to give us eternal life.  We ask His Help that our hearts might desire good and with His Help put those desires into action so that we might accept that eternal life offered us by that same Jesus Christ.

Paul then tells us, if we say we are with Christ, we must act with Him.  We must continually seek to better our selves by setting our sights on Him in heaven and guiding our actions by Him, by associating with others like minded.  We must turn our backs on this earth if we truly face heaven.

When we come to Holy Week, we find a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, triumphant in the eyes of the beholders, not the center of the action.  The crowd, with some of the same people who later condemned Him, welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with the expectation He came to free them from the Roman yoke, to hold them up, to put their feet on the Romans’ necks.  Yet, He knew where He was going and what would happen.

The week built towards the First Day of the First Week of the New Covenant.   Jesus knew what He was doing.

Reflect on this, during World War II on D-Day, the first waves were National Guard and new recruits.  No veterans of Torch, Norway or Dieppe.  Why?  Because all the soldiers were patriots and all were ready to defend their country, the new guys did not know what that really meant.

Crucifixion, a cruel painful death.  Painful beyond our comprehension.  Think about the mechanics of being nailed to a cross.  Think about that.  Then think about the descent into hell to do battle with the devil.  Think about that.  No matter what you imagine, like D-Day the reality exceeded the expectation. 

Yet Jesus, being God, knew exactly what He was volunteering for.  And He rode towards the sound of gunfire. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15.13

Jesus went with full knowledge aforethought where no one would go – FOR YOU, FOR ME, FOR US.  That is Good Friday’s lesson.

Today, The Resurrection, Easter or as it is called in Spanish, Dia de la Resurreccion, is the day that the promise of everlasting life was delivered.

This one perfect sacrifice, one time, for all time and for all mankind was made for YOU.  All you need to do to get the benefit is follow Christ.  So, what does that mean?  See John 14.23:  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

It is not if you attend church or not that makes you a Christian, it is if you do what He asks of you.  Going to church just gives you help and encouragement.  It makes you part of a team, part of a coherent unit.

Today, you have a choice, just like every day.  Today you can be a Christer, that is one who celebrates Christmas and Easter, or you can be a Christian.  One who follows Christ.

If you choose being a Christian, be prepared for constant failure and shortfall of goal.  So long as you do your best and never give up Christ will account you as perfect when it counts.

Today, the first day in Eternity or another day off your life towards death.  Your choice.  Jesus made His, you make yours.

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today we get a brilliant and inspiring sermon for Easter.  I beg you; take the time to read this:

Sermon Notes for EASTER
8 April 2012 Anno Domini
St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church

Easter Sunday.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY 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 preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65  Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. (Matt 27:57-66)

        During the Holy Week we have studied of events leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ – the triumphal entry of Christ into the City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the woman who poured expensive oils upon Jesus ant Bethany in preparation for His death (Matthew 26:7-3), the plot of the Jewish rulers to put Christ to death, the betrayal of Judas, the mock trial before the Sanhedrin and the court of the Proconsul, Pontius Pilate, and the crucifixion itself.

        The Jewish leaders, inspired by their father the devil, have carried out their plan of murder of the Son of God.  They gloat over their presumed success, but their gloating will be turned to despair and worry.

       57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple

        Joseph was not only a rich man, but a prominent leader and counselor among the Jews. We read from John:  38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. (John 19:38)
        In Mark we read: 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:43)

        We are told in the 58th verse that Joseph begged the body of Christ, and in Mark that he craved it. Have we begged or craved to possess Christ in His fullness? It should be the obsession of every professing Christian to crave Christ, to beg in prayer to have Him as Friend, as Lord, as Savior, and as Constant Counsellor.

        Joseph was a secret disciple of Christ, but in the Body of Christ, we have no clandestine professors – we are either for Christ openly, or we are not for Christ.  At the moment of crucifixion, seeing that Christ was faithful to His Word to the end, Joseph realized his weakness and went publicly at the time of greatest danger, to beg the body of Christ.

        Joseph did not come alone, for he had with him that disciple that came by night to Christ out of political fear – Nicodemus, who was likewise emboldened by the crucifixion to come publicly to be numbered among the disciples.

        I hope we have no secret disciples of Christ among the precious young people of St Andrews!

        59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

        The body of Christ was wrapped in the same way as that of Lazarus. But the risen Christ needed no man to remove His grave clothes, as did Lazarus, to be set free. Furthermore, Christ did not require the voice of God from outside the Tomb to call Him forth as did Lazarus – the Voice was from within.

        The tomb belonged to Joseph. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (John 19:41-42)

        This was fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 - And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth

        Jesus was crucified between two thieves – one, repentant, the other rebellious.

        No man had ever before lain in this tomb. It was a BORROWED Tomb for Christ would need it only for a few hours.

         It is interesting to note that Jesus was provided shelter in a manger at his birth by a man named Joseph, son of Heli, and husband to Mary, the mother of Jesus. And now, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus is again provided a shelter by another Joseph for His dead body.

        Since the occupation of the tomb by Christ was only temporary, we can know that our sojourn in the grave will be temporary as well. As St Paul says; the twinkling of an eye.

        In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:52)

        There are two Marys watching over Christ even to the end. They were at the Cross until the end, and they watch at the burial until the end – Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany who was ever at the feet of Christ.
61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

        Will our end of days find us watching Christ until that end comes?

       62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

        This is evidence that the Jewish rulers had paid close attention to every Word of Christ. They, moreover, knew the prophecies and were without excuse as to ignorance.
        Now, they are worried and want to insure that the Man whom they have so treacherously murdered, stays dead and in the tomb.

        64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first

        Every day in America  men are running to the governor to request that all mention of Christ be abandoned – that there be no prayer allowed, no Holy Days acknowledged, and no expressions of faith allowed on any public square. Such men want to insure that Christ remains buried.

        But no such whimsical notions can be realized. There was no power on earth that could keep Christ in the Tomb.

65.Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch

"As she as they could" was not sure enough. No man can stop the power of God.

They placed the seal of the Roman Authority on the Tomb and set guards at watch. Here the government is complicit with the devil to stench the resurrection just as the government of today attempts the same vile effort.

Now, we shall await the rolling of the Stone away by Angels of God. Now we shall await the coming forth of the Son of God in
victory and triumph. Shall you make His triumphant resurrection your own in Him?

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has a special sermon for Easter:

The Story of Redemption
This morning I chose to share again something many of you gave heard before, but many have not.  And it is something so important it needs to be heard several times by everyone, for it gives an overview of the entire Bible, so we can see it as a unified whole and so we can see that it presents the single story of what God is doing in this world.          
The Bible begins and ends with God.  The very first verse says, “In the beginning God” (Gen 1:1).  The very last verse says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (Rev.22:21).  God dwells in eternity, without fault or sin, in perfect being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.  God is complete in and of Himself.  He does not need others to complete Him like people do.  Therefore, God did not create angels or humans because He needed their company or love.  He created them so they could know and enjoy His company and love.  This means He had to give them some semblance of the attributes He has in Himself, though on a much smaller scale, and all dependant upon His sustaining power.  He gave them existence, personality, creativity, and will, among other things.  He created Man, male and female, and placed them on earth to have dominion over it, and to use their creativity and intelligence to rule the world under God.  He gave them free will, and created them morally and spiritually good, so they were able to live in perfect harmony and fellowship with Him and with each other.  Man was able to live in perfect union with God, as long as they lived in perfect obedience to God’s perfect will (Gen. 2:15-25).  But at some point, Man turned away from God (Gen. 3:1-8).  Choosing to live by their own rules instead of by the will of God, Man fell from their fellowship with God, and became criminals against the righteous King of Creation.  The Fall of Man changed not only their relationship with God, but also their own nature and essence.  No longer were they free and good.  Their minds became darkened and their wills became warped so that they are inclined towards evil instead of good (Rom. 1:21-25).  The history of Man is the story of the Fall in action.  It is the story of greed, hate, oppression, and violence and ungodliness (Jas. 4:1-3).  In other words, it is the history of Sin.
            The study of Bible history is the study of the unfolding of God’s grace extended to fallen Man.  As we study the history of the Bible we see first the progressive self revelation of God, culminating in Jesus Christ.  Second, we see the unfolding of God’s purpose of grace, which we may call the Plan of RedemptionAll of the studies we have done in Old and New Testament history have been done to bring us to this point, the point of recognizing afresh that, in the Bible, we are witnessing the story of God’s self revelation and the story of God’s redeeming grace.  Today it is my hope to trace some of the more important events in this story, and to show that the flow of events is the unfolding of God’s plan.
            We have already looked at the Fall.  Soon we must look at the first promise of redemption, but first let us see that the Plan of Redemption actually precedes the Fall.  It even precedes creation.  Christ said His people will inherit a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:34).  Ephesians 1:4 says we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.  I Peter 1:18-20 says we are redeemed not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or spot, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”  Finally, Revelation 13:8 speaks of Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
            How does this plan of Redemption unfold in history?  It begins even in the Garden.  There God had mercy on the guilty sinners.  To be sure, there were consequences to their sin, but there was also mercy, and a great promise that has been called the Protoevangelium. It is found in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  From the start this verse was understood to foretell the work of the Messiah.  Paul refers to it in Romans 16.  Justin Martyr (110-165) interpreted it as such also.  It could be said that the rest of the Bible is the explanation of how God works this verse out in history.  The cross of Christ is the most obvious example of this, but in reality, all of history can be summarized as the story of Redemption as Christ, the seed of the woman bruises the head of the serpent (Satan) to deliver His people, until the day He finally comes in the full revelation of His glory to restore creation and to fully establish His Kingdom of righteousness forever.
            From the Fall, Redemption moves forward in the birth of Seth.  Abel has been killed, and Cain, his murderer, has been driven out of the covenant people.  So the line through which God will bring the Saviour into the world continues in Seth (Gen 4:25).  From Seth, the Bible traces the line to Noah (Gen.5:1-32), and from Noah, through Shem, to Abraham (Gen. 11:10-32).  Throughout this time God was revealing His righteousness and holiness.  It was shown that the murder of Abel was a sin against God.  The wickedness of Man caused God to bring judgment in the Flood.  The arrogance of humanistic endeavor was judged at Babel.  Abraham was called to leave Ur, to separate from the cultures of the world and their wickedness.  Through him God was going to build a nation to be His own special and holy people.  All of this reveals the nature and purpose of God.
            Israel was that special and holy people.  Descendants of Abraham, the Israelites dwelt in Canaan until a famine drove them to seek shelter in Egypt, where God had already established Joseph as the pharaoh’s chief official.  Miraculously, God delivered the Israelites after the Egyptians enslaved them.  He took them to Mount Sinai, where He gave them His Law, the fullest revelation of His will to date.  The moral law, as well as the ceremonial and civil law was given at Sinai, and the Hebrews were invited to assent personally to the Covenant God made with their forefathers. 
            The Covenant can be summarized as follows.  First, God will be their God.  He will bless them, give them his Law that they may know the ways of goodness and peace, and establish them in the land of Canaan.  He will also provide a way to forgive their sins, which will be symbolized in the Temple and the sacrificial system.  Second, they will be His people.  They will love Him with all their heart, keep His commandments joyfully, forsake all idols, and live for Him in righteousness in the land He would give them (see Deuteronomy 30 for a summary of the Covenant).  With the Covenant ratified by the people, God sent them toward Canaan.  After the forty years in the wilderness, the people entered the Promised Land.
            Things did not go well for the Israelites.  They turned from God to easier and more attractive religions.  They engaged in the sensuality and lust of the Canaanites.  But in grace the story of Redemption continued as God sent the judges and the prophets to them.  The prophets proclaimed that God wanted not just the outward forms and rituals of the ceremonial law, but also the inward holiness of the moral law.  They expounded more fully the holy nature of God, and the demand that His people be holy also.  Sometimes the Hebrews got the message and turned to God.  In those times God forgave their sin and blessed them.  The reign of David was one of those times, and can be understood as a foretaste of the Kingdom of the Messiah.  Often the Israelites rejected God’s message and killed the prophets.  In those times they paid the price for their sin, for God allowed them to be harassed and dominated by several foreign powers, beginning with the Canaanites and continuing to the Romans.  But during this time God revealed to them that a Deliverer was coming who would bring forgiveness and restoration, and would establish a Kingdom that would transcend political, ethnic, and cultural barriers.  The message of the prophet Isaiah was one of the clearest expressions of this in the Old Testament.  Through him it was revealed that the Saviour would suffer for the sins of His people, and that He would open the Kingdom of God to all believers.  The history of Israel is the history of God providentially working in the life of a nation that is often stubborn and rebellious.  But God is faithful, and even sin and rebellion in His own chosen people did not stay the progress of the plan of Redemption.  In grace He continued to work in His people and to bring the world to the point of the fullness of time, when He sent forth His Son, our Saviour, to redeem us (Gal 4:4-5).
            Before proceeding further into the New Testament, let us emphasize a few very important points of the Old Testament.  First, God requires righteousness.  We can define righteousness negatively as the absence of moral fault, and positively as the active possession of absolute moral perfection.  The whole point of the Law is the requirement of perfection.  God is perfect, and requires perfection of us.  There is no sliding scale, no allowance for circumstances, no excuse for failure to measure up.  We must embrace and do righteousness perfectly if we are going to live up to the demands of the Law.  This requires an inward attitude as well as outward performance.
            Second, nobody measures up.  The Law reveals God’s standards, but it also reveals God’s nature.  Righteousness is God and God is righteousness.  There is no fault or variation in Him.  But we fall short in every way.  We fail to achieve perfection in our works because we fail to achieve perfection in our beings.  In fact, as we saw in our look at the Fall, we are imperfect in our beings, and this inward imperfection inclines us to imperfect actions.  Actually, I have stated this too softly.  To get the real sense of the Bible’s teaching on this I have to say that we are evil in our inward beings.  There is in us a selfishness and pride that causes us to place our own comfort and pleasures above the good we know we should be doing.  This “fallenness” even leads us to exalt ourselves and wills above that of God Himself.  It is this fallenness in our being that causes the sinful actions, which the Prayer Book rightly reminds, are sins of omission as well as sins of commission (see the General Confession, page 6, 1928 edition).
            Third,  the Law, though it shows the way of life and peace, is actually our enemy, because by it we see our lack of righteousness.  We see that the Law does not justify us in the eyes of God, it condemns us.  This is one of the major points of the Bible.  This is why Paul, in Romans 3:20, speaking about the Jewish people who had the law, says,
 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his [God’s] sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

            Fourth, the Law, then, becomes our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24).  Seeing that we are actually condemned by our failure to meet God’s standards, we are forced to despair of escaping His holy wrath upon us for our sins, unless, God has mercy on us, and somehow makes a way for us to be forgiven. 
            Now we can return to the Old Testament and see again the many promises of God to make a way of salvation for us.  We will not attempt to show every reference to Christ, but will look at some of the more obvious.  In Genesis 3:15 He is the seed of woman that bruises the serpent’s head. He is also the one whose heel is bruised by the serpent.  In Exodus He is the Passover Lamb who saves His people by His blood.  In the Day of Atonement He is the Scapegoat that bears the sins of His people.  In the Temple He is the High Priest who offers the sacrifices for sin.  His also the Sacrifice, just as the altar is the cross on which He is offered.  In Isaiah He 7:14 He is Immanuel, God with us.  In Isaiah 53 He is the Man of Sorrows who heals our souls by His stripes (crucifixion).  In Micah 2:5 He is the Ruler who comes out of Bethlehem.  In Micah 4:1-3 He is the One who brings in the Kingdom of Peace and Righteousness in which people can at last beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  The Old Testament is about Him from beginning to end.  He said if we believe Moses we would believe in Him, for Moses wrote of Him (Jn. 5:46).
            In the New Testament the promises of God to fallen Man are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The promise to make Abraham a great nation is fulfilled in Christ.  The promise through Micah that many peoples will come into the house of the God of Israel is fulfilled in Christ.  The old Israel, which was confined to one nation, is, in Christ, fulfilled into a world-wide fellowship that transcends all national ethnic, and cultural barriers.  This New Israel is called the Church.  The salvation of those who are condemned by the Law is accomplished by God Himself, who became flesh and went to the cross and bore in Himself the price of our redemption. He suffered the wrath of God in our place.  He was punished for our sins.  The full revelation of God is accomplished in Christ, who said if we have seen Him we have seen the Father (Jn. 14:9-11).
            Church history, as recorded in the New Testament, is the continuing story of Redemption as the message of the Gospel goes into the world.  The Gospels record the life and ministry of Christ, by whom the work of Redemption is accomplished.  The Book of Acts records the spread of the Gospel into the Mediterranean world.  By the end of Acts there are Christians in Africa, Asia, and Europe.  The Epistles explain the faith.  They explain the Gospel.  In them we find the meaning and purpose of the ministry of Christ  explained so that it can always be understood through the successive generations around the world. 
            We have seen that Jesus is the full revelation of God, yet that revelation is veiled in the sense that it is not fully recognized.  He came to earth within the limitations of time and space.  He came in humility to be rejected and crucified.  But He will come again in power.  In that day every eye will see Him.  In that day He will bring the story of Redemption to its close. In that day His enemies will be forever crushed under His heel.  Satan, sin, the ungodly, death and hell will be cast out of His presence forever.  He will gather His people to be with Him in a place where all suffering and sin will be ended forever.  In that Land we will see Him with our own eyes as Adam and Eve saw Him walking with them in the Garden.  In that day all our questions will be answered and our joy will be complete.  Even the physical creation will be renewed and restored (see Rev. 21).  All things will be brought together under Christ, who will rule in grace and peace forever.
            Thus ends the story of Redemption.  The purpose of God in His creation has been accomplished.  Fallen people have been called into fellowship with God and redeemed by the blood of Christ.  Evil has been conquered forever, and the people of God live in peace and righteousness.  This is what the history of the Bible is all about.
Blessed Easter,
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

Where did the term Easter come from?
Scholars variously attribute the name "Easter" to a derivation from Eostra (a Scandinavian goddess of dawn or spring) or Ostern (a Teutonic fertility goddess), both pagan figures honored at festivals celebrating the vernal equinox, about the time of the Passover. Traditions associated with these festivals include the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility; and Easter eggs, painted with the bright colors of spring, signifying growth and new life, concepts associated with the resurrection.  Hence the name and symbols came to be associated with the festival of the Resurrection of Christ, which occurred at the time of the Passover. In the early English versions this word was frequently used as the translation of the Greek pascha (the Passover). When the Authorized Version (1611) was formed, the word "Passover" was used in all passages in which this word pascha occurred, except in Acts 12:4 where the word Easter was used.

Easter is a Movable Feast
The Easter holiday builds on the traditions of the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach (the derivation of Pascha, another name for Easter), celebrating deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.  Passover begins on Thursday, when we're reminded that Jesus traveled with His followers to Jerusalem in observation of the feast He came to fulfill.  In an effort to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord at the same time of year, before the calendar was standardized and synchronized to the solar year, Easter became a movable feast and is the lynchpin for the other movable feasts which take their dates from Easter.  Victor I (c.189-198AD) standardized Easter as a Sunday holiday, and in 325AD the Council of Nicaea set Easter's date in relation to the paschal moon. The Gregorian calendar correction of 1582AD placed Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, falling between 22 March and 25 April.  If the fourteenth day happens on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday after.

A term long forgotten
Easter Dues – Unique to the Church of England, of which our Anglican Church is a direct descendant - Money due to the clergy at Easter, formerly paid in communication of the tithe for personal labor and subject to exaction.  For Easter dues, Easter offerings, voluntary gifts, have been substituted.  In the case of this parish, the minister is given an entire month’s pay as Easter Dues!  But, before he gets too excited, he reflects that is actually two times zero, which is yet still zero!

[1] The tomb was a new one which had been hewn for Joseph of Arimathea.  Joseph, a native of Arimathea, was apparently a man of wealth, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin an "honourable counsellor, who waited (or "was searching") for the kingdom of God", according to John, he was secretly a disciple of Jesus. As soon as he heard the news of Jesus' death, he "went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus." Pilate, reassured by a centurion that the death had really taken place, allowed Joseph's request. Joseph immediately purchased fine linen and went to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There, assisted by Nicodemus, he took the body and wrapped it in the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought. The body was then conveyed to the new tomb in rock in his garden nearby. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women, and rolled a great stone to the entrance, and departed. This was done speedily, "for the Sabbath was drawing on". Joseph of Arimathea appears in some early New Testament apocrypha.

Although there are no written records until the fifth century, tradition holds Joseph of Arimethea, who provided the tomb for the burial of Jesus Christ, brought Christianity and the Holy Grail to England in 37 AD and built a church in Glastonbury in Somerset.

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