March 25, 2018
Dear Friends in Christ,
We are entering Holy Week 2018, and the meditation upon the works of our Lord Jesus becomes more vivid in the believer’s mind than at any other time in the church calendar. Our reflections on these events and the traditions of the church are meant to keep them at the very center of our life together as Anglican Christians. It requires that our life in Christ in Holy Week be moved from being simply a busy church calendar to a series of personal encounters with the living God.
Encounters with the Spirit of the living Christ in the hearts of the people of God at worship this week can provide us and our families and friends many breakthroughs. These can happen when the sacrament, the worship event, and the fellowship of our common participation in the Christ of Calvary come together and bring us to be where the very essence of the church exists.
The message and meaning of the cross of Christ for the late Abp. Michael Ramsey was so central to his theology of what it means to be a Christian that he describes the church in the following words: ” For by the Messiah’s death it (the church) has been created, and made a people unto God. The Church exists because he died. … For it seems not only that Christ creates the Church by dying and rising again, but also within Him, and especially within his death and resurrection, the Church is actually present. We must search for the fact of the Church not beyond Calvary and Easter but within them.” (Gospel and The Catholic Church, pg. 18, 19)
Abp. Michael uses the phrase “Living through Dying” to describe and bring us into deeper fellowship with Christ in his death. This concept is so central to the life of Christians in St. Paul’s writings that the apostle says in Philippians 1:21, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. The self-emptying and self-denial of Christ in his life and teachings (Mark 10:45) and ultimately in his death (Mark 9:37) shows that our following of Christ begins with our embrace of the cross and our death to self. Jesus brings self-denial and powerlessness to be an instrument of transformation. Jesus displays for eternity that the Cross and Easter are the climax of God’s plan to change people from self-centered sinners to self-forgetting servants, committed to a life of following Jesus.
The church doesn’t only exist because of the Cross and Easter; it is found within them.
So on that coming glorious day, we will say with all God’s people:
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
May this be a most blessed Holy Week and Easter for you and your whole household.
Bishop Bill Murdoch