Sunday, April 4, 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Sermon & Easter Reflections

Here are some excerpts from the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Sermon:

With a bit of a sigh, we read about yet another legal wrangle over the right to wear a cross in public while engaged in professional duties; one more small but significant mark of what many Christians feel is a sustained effort to discriminate against them and render their faith invisible and impotent in the public sphere. One more mark of the curious contemporary belief that Christians are both too unimportant for their convictions to be worth bothering with and too dangerous for them to be allowed to manifest those convictions. ...

Why this strange mixture of contempt and fear towards the Christian faith? If you think of all the high-profile attacks on Christianity that have been published in recent years, you may wonder why those who shout most loudly about the irreversible decline of Christianity campaign so ferociously against something which, on their own account, is withering away. ...

But the New Testament suggests there may be something more at work when people fear the gospel and the cross. Our second reading today hints at this. As so often in these early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter underlines the fact that the resurrection of Jesus means that the one who was so decisively, annihilatingly, dismissed by the religious and political establishment of the time is the one who will decide the destiny of every human being. We shall all be judged by our response to him, to the divine and human person who has carried the cost of our mindless violence, our pride and self-satisfaction, our reluctance to face the truth. The court of final appeal in all human affairs is Christ; how we define ourselves in relation to him is a matter of life or death.

This is not about some fussy insistence on saying the right words and joining the right organization, as if St Peter were simply recruiting members for the Christian club. Jesus himself reminds us starkly in the gospel that we may be seeing him where we think we can't see him or don't know him – and that we may be failing to see him when we're making all the right noises about him. One day we are all going to discover in the presence of God who we are and how we stand with God, whether we can bear the presence of God for eternity; and in that moment of discovery, what will be crucial is how we have reacted to and understood the gift of God in the life and death of a man rejected and tortured to death.

Read it all.

And watch the Archbishop's reflections on Easter:

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