Taste and See: With Christ, a new beginning

dsc06965-christ-blessing

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. It was the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

A last day that was  a day of new beginnings. Pope Francis has urged the Church now to be still more confident in her proclamation of mercy, day by day, and in her extending the mercy of God, from which we have already benefited, to others who may not, or dare to know, know the good news.

The reading above helps us to that confidence and to a ministry of mercy. It helps us see our lives in the broader context of God’s work of Creation and Redemption.

Our own of work of witness may require a certain courage on our part, but we are not alone in our attempting of it. God is with us, and before us preparing the way, and following after us – and not only if things go wrong.

We are a team, together. Or as Colossians puts it, in good Pauline fashion: we are of one body with Christ as our head. And all will be well.

  • Give thanks

Stained Glass. Lichfield Cathedral (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The greatness of the Lord and the Easter Mystery

IMG_2228a

There are five Easter Prefaces that can be used with the Eucharistic Prayers during the Eater season.

The following one was used in St John’s Wood last Sunday – and perhaps in your church too – it’s title indicates the enormous theme it approaches:

The restoration of the universe through the Paschal Mystery

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
but in this time above all to laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

For, with the old order destroyed,
a universe cast down is renewed,
and integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.

Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:

Easter is certainly not just about Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies! Nor is it ‘just’ about the rising of Jesus from the dead – or at least there is much more to the rising of Jesus from the dead than an event in the history of one man.

IMG_2229aThe Resurrection is one might say a ‘game-changer’ or at least it reveals the nature of the game that is being played: the salvation of the world – of humankind and all creation.

This is no matter of personal devotion or private religiosity. It is much more, and it is at our peril that we allow the Resurrection to be domesticated in our prayer, our worship, our theology.

  • Where is the power of God’s salvation needed in your life?
  • In your community?
  • In our world?

Photographs of the 15th Station, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of the return of light and life

Church at Cross, LerinsThere are two alternatives for the Second reading on Easter Sunday. The first is given below, and the second at the end of this posting.

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

Colossians 3:1-4

Pro nobis, for us…. What Christ does he does for us.

Christ has died, but we have been brought back to new life in consequence.

Here is divine justice, that we should be rescued from sin. That whatever debt is due is paid for us by Christ. We are freed from sin that we might be brought to true life, together, oriented to heavenly things.

– – –

You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Image of the Crucifixion and the gifting of love in communion. Abbey of Lerins, France. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2005.

Speak Lord: that we may not die but live

Death's creature

The first reading for the coming Sunday’s Mass, the 26th in Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Ezekiel. Through his prophet the Lord calls us to honesty and justice.

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘You object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

Ezekiel 18:25-28

I once heard a minister of the word speak the first words of the Lord in this passage, treating the verb ‘object’ as a noun! It certainly gave great force to the reading, but perhaps skewed the sense rather too much.

We are not objects to the Lord, however much he may sometimes detest, and object to, our doings. And so he calls us, again and again, to repentance and renewal.

In our sins we die, but by his grace we can be raised from the death of sin.

As we pray for that today, let’s consider also how justly or unjustly we conduct ourselves as we go about our daily lives.

  • What works of love and justice have we contributed to? What works of injustice and harm mar our day?
  • Bring the tally to the Lord in prayer, praising him for the successes, and asking for mercy for the failings.

Before the evangelisation of Provence the region was possessed of a vigorous death cult – with prolific use of images of the dead being consumed and tortured by mythic beasts. Something of this continued into early Christian iconography. The image at the head of this page is of one such carving in the collection of the Musée Lapidaire in Avignon. Photo (c) Allen Morris, 2014.