From the Bishop

The End of Death

April 13, 2017
Maundy Thursday

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Consider the words of two notable writers and thinkers of the Church from two very different times. The first are from Leo the Great and the second from NT Wright, both of which reflect a similar thought from several biblical passages with extraordinary freshness and insight.

Dearly beloved, let us then acknowledge what Saint Paul, the teacher of the nations, acknowledged so exultantly: “This is a saying worthy of trust, worthy of complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.”

God’s compassion for us is all the more wonderful because Christ died, not for the righteous or the holy but for the wicked and the sinful, and though the divine nature could not be touched by the sting of death, he took to himself, through his birth as one of us, something he could offer on our behalf.

The power of his death once confronted our death. In the words of Hosea, the prophet: “Death, I shall be your death; grave, I shall swallow you up.” By dying he submitted to the laws of the underworld; by rising again he destroyed them. He did away with the everlasting character of death so as to make death a thing of time, not of eternity. As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.

Leo the Great (390-461)

NT Wright, in his book, Twelve Months of Sundays, also reflects on the end of death, focusing on a similar passage from Isaiah 25: “On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples . . . he will swallow up death forever.” Wright observes in his Easter commentary, “Death is abolished, beware of speaking of it as merely being redescribed.”

We come to the Great Triduum and Easter, a moment in the history of the world and our salvation so great that 40 days are required to prepare for its fullness. The writings and reflections of church leaders from the past twenty centuries still bring us up short, hungering for more.

Bookending the words of Leo the Great from the fifth century and NT Wright from our century demonstrates to me that we can look at the same texts and find new ways of expanding their meaning and going deeper into the truth revealed through each passage.

Now through the great conclusion of this sober Lent, the Great Triduum and Easter, the culmination of our redemption comes into even greater focus. How awesome are the consequences of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, descended to hell, and on the third day rose from the dead? Even now all who walk with Christ through the valley of Death, trusting in Him as Lord and Savior, are seated with Him in the heavenly places.

The fullness of resurrection life, though now seen in part, waits for us on the other side of death and in His Coming Kingdom. The weight of these eternal truths, displayed so mightily through the cross and the Resurrection, brings us an unshakable foundation and certainty in the face of the terrors of this world and the judgement due for our sins. What a glorious Gospel we have, a witness for the ages, that in Jesus there is life, and death is swallowed up in victory. We carry this witness to the world.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

A Blessed Easter to you all, in Christ our Lord,

+BILL

P.S. Cathedral churches have been and are places where the weight and significance of the teaching of Christ and the beauty of His Gospel are both proclaimed and celebrated. We, the ADNE, need to respond to the call to help complete the work of our Cathedral’s restoration. We are half way to receiving the funds necessary (a goal of $135,000) to pay for painting the interior of the church, re-siding St Aidan’s House, and adding necessary audio and visual improvements in the sanctuary, in addition to the cost of our celebrations for over 300 people. This Easter season, please consider a gift to the Cathedral Consecration Fund, either by going online or sending a check to the ADNE, 6 Allens Ct., Amesbury, MA 01915. Let’s join together to restore our Cathedral to a place of beauty and Gospel witness!

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