Sunday, 8 April 2007

Easter Day sermons

Archbishop of Canterbury: human failure is overcome by God’s love

Archbishop of York: Victory and Peace of the Resurrection

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 2:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

No penal substitution from Canterbury Cathedral, then.

I can go along with what Rowan Williams says here (I suppose there are some forerunner conditions leading up to this, but this seems sensible):

_So: if we can accept the unwelcome picture of us and our world that Good Friday offers, we are, in the strangest way, set free to hear what Easter says._

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 4:02pm BST

I wouldn't put Easter like the Archbishop of York has (I prefer it the way I heard locally, I have to say: publish it!).

Having said that, his reference to Russia is interesting. My wife is a child of the Communist Soviet system, and she thought nothing of that leadership (she wriggled out of all requests to join in) nor the Orthodox hierarchy, nor how Communists overnight became Orthodox. She does not know that she is an atheist, and like a friend says if there is a God then there is one for everybody, but "like(s) to talk to Father David because he is an intelligent man."

To the point, then: her father ignores the Orthodox Church too. But like the Archbishop's introduction, she will not tell him that we cut the grass this afternoon. That constitutes work. And on this worldwide Easter Day we should not have cut the grass, and she cannot tell him that we did.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 4:15pm BST

Meanwhile, let's hear it for the local church (and I include in every place): in the one I attend, a dawn intimacy and themes and a sense of breaking anew, a main eucharist sermon second to none in presentation and content, and in the evening (as in the morning too) a standard of music hitting the heights with direction, singing and organ playing. It is not everwhere or every time that some people actually return to the seats to hear the end organ piece of the service (I didn't actually leave) and then clap. All of this, through the liturgical day, produced a very positive atmosphere that in of itself told what Easter is about.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 7:57pm BST

Pluralist (to whom I did not get chance to speak at Festal Evensong) said:

I wouldn't put Easter like the Archbishop of York has (I prefer it the way I heard locally, I have to say: publish it!).

to which I reply

Flattery will get you everywhere.....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 9:02pm BST

...or following on, as Dalton might have said, "eight-thirds, pi r cubed"

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 9:03pm BST

Pluralist
isn't the problem that most of us believe we have heard, understood and dealt with, the unwelcome picture of ourselves that Good Friday offers, and that we have heard the Easter message, each in our own self satisfied way?
It's easy to agree with what Rowan said, in a generally vague "I've repented so I'm saved" sort of way.
Sadly, it often only confirms our own good opinion of oursevles and makes us even less tolerant of others.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 9:13pm BST

Oh, but the Archbishop of York's sermon is wonderful! It spoke directly to my heart. The fact that he would have excluded me from what he meant only shows how perfectly the Spirit speaks through those who are willing to hear, and how much She exceeds those She speaks through.
There's hope for the Christian faith yet!
He is risen indeed, Alleluja.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 9:30pm BST

To me, this is the most important part of Rowan's sermon:
"Give up the struggle to be innocent and the hope that God will proclaim that you were right and everyone else wrong. Simply ask for whatever healing it is that you need, whatever grace and hope you need to be free, then step towards your neighbour;"
If we all had a bit more of that - would this Anglican Communion really feel the urge to split?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 10:46pm BST

ABC wrote "Give up the struggle to be innocent and the hope that God will proclaim that you were right and everyone else wrong. Simply ask for whatever healing it is that you need, whatever grace and hope you need to be free, then step towards your neighbour;.."

Sentamu's speech synergises with ABC's speech. Sentamu talks about three kinds of encounters with Jesus. I would like to add a fourth: those who are in denial of their complicity. There is a passage from a Jewel song "Hands" which says "that to be forgiven we must first believed we sinned". Jesus taught us to take responsibility for our sins (let he who is without sin cast the first stone) and to accept our own failings (does this generation really believe they are any better than Sodom and Gomorrah?) E.g. Matthew 11:23-25

Is this generation really any better than any other generation? What lengths will a Christian or Muslim or Jewish or other church and their flocks go to preserve their paradigms and self-identity? Who would they crucify or scapegoat to dodge the responsibilty of their errors or avoid accepting that their paradigms need constructive tweaking?

Jonah sat on a mound furious with God that the vine of his new church had withered because Ninevah had repented. God's response was that a church grows or not by God's will and nurturing, but God has a greater need to attend to the masses. Repentance and salvation of lost or forsaken sheep counts for more than ivory towers on high mounds. Wasteful shepherds are those who do not see that their calling is not to build an edifice for themselves.

Jesus' method of ministry demonstrated a huge amount of faith in God. He wasn't worried about fixing every problem or reaching every person in every town before he died. He trusted that what he did was sufficient unto God.

If we do not trust that our churches are big enough, our tithes adequate, our proportion of representation sufficient; we become obsessed and never satiated. In Exodus, God taught the Jews sufficiency through manna each morning, if you tried to hoard or take more than you needed, it turned into foul worms. Theologies based on numbers often develop into foul worms, they become murderous and cruel.

To not participate in crucifixions necessitates trusting God to provide for both you and the other.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 10:54pm BST

OK, mynster - sounds like you'll have to post your sermon somewhere and give us all the link?
Please?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 10:57pm BST

The Archbishop of York seems to have given a powerful sermon - I found it a pleasure to read, and would have loved to have heard it.

Posted by: Awdry Ely on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 11:32pm BST

Is there not a subtle way in which Archbishop Rowan exempts his own words and actions from the criticism he makes of others, those who write their own story in such a way that the voice of the other can't be heard. Does he not see that his own view of how the communion should work is just one of many contestable positions on the ground, no more innocent or natural than any of the others, and no more justified. It seems to me that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in rejecting the pastoral scheme can ground their view of the situation pretty well in the history of Lambeth and development of Anglican Communion structures, far better than the proposed interventions of the ABC. Perhaps I'm wrong but I really do think that this kind of defense of his own words and deeds forms the subtext of this sermon. None of us is innocent, to be sure, but does he really mean to defend his complicity in violence against lgbt persons and the violation of their human rights?

I also find it a bit maudlin for an Easter sermon. Nothing wrong with acknowledging the reality of the cross, but I don't hear the note of victory, which is present throughout the liturgy, the Scriptures, and the tradition.

Posted by: Bill Carroll on Sunday, 8 April 2007 at 11:37pm BST

There is indeed a danger, Erika Baker, of being complacent: however, there is always a time (once everything has been considered) to stop beating your own back and move on.

I suppose I see things in terms of a problem of difficulty that is really dark and ultimately comes down to your own encounter with things, even when other people are involved and driving you nuts. It is then that you look for chinks of light and you hope they will be there. Often when in the light you don't even realise it, and should.

Hope I haven't caused a problem here, mynsterpreost.

It went along the lines that since Dalton... (interesting - if I summarised it, what would be forgotten that you thought important, and what might I stress, that perhaps you didn't stress? I do remember how you balanced it because it was well crafted.)

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 3:00am BST

Pluralist,
I suppose having read the sermon as part of reading through a week's worth of TA postings has clouded my way of understanding it.

I'm just so tired of being told that God's love is dependent on me constantly changing everything important about myself. There are too many people who claim Easter Sunday for themselves but who will keep me at Good Friday until I repent of what they believe their tyrannical God hates.
And all I see in those people is self satisfied complacency and a frightening lack of compassion.

I'm not sure that I agree that there is a time to move on. The real challenge must be to remain continuously open to change and to new and deeper ways of understanding what God wants from me.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 10:39am BST

Erika

I can relate to your posting.

I have respected friends who moved on from church fellowship because they could not be "good enough" for the "in crowd" nor were they prepared to turn their backs on beloved friends and family who were GLBTs.

The irony is that my observation of those who left the church because they were inadequate and unprepared to turn their backs on beloveds are more able to recognise and respond to God in the small daily miracles that make up life. A tree that grows despite a drought, a child that smiles after losing a pet, a man and woman who choose trust again despite their previous partners' adultery.

No amount of intellectual sophistry can change or choose where or how God's grace will come into a community. It is not under the control of the individual or priest or neighbour or relative. It is an amazing undefinable uncontrollable chemistry of God's grace and a soul's response. We sometimes get to witness and weep tears of happiness. Most times we hear the incomplete anecdote but trust in the one who recounts their encounter as it was so intense and private that no witness can testify to its veracity.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 11:58am BST

Anyone else spot +Rochester's comments? According to today's Guardian he seems to feel the Iranian government (yes, sponsors of the Holocaust denial conference, etc etc) are more moral than HMG. Presumably because whereas holocaust denial's merely a matter of opinion, being in favour of the SOR's anti-discriminatory legislation puts one outside the moral fold?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 3:02pm BST

pluralist: I'll email you a copy, you can then do what you like with it! But I don't think it's very original or any great shakes, to be honest, just a jobbing parish priest's ramble, no more.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 3:06pm BST

When the service and sacrifice is for the other, they cannot be abandoned for as long as possible - and may just have to stay with them. It may be that the window of a new view ahead stays blocked and unseen, except for clues of light ahead coming around corners and in shifting shadows.

I was commenting on matters happening to your own self, so not beating your own back continuously. Sometimes things happen to you personally by people you once trusted, and this can keep you stuck. Then you need to look for new strategies and ways forward that might allow for a breakthrough. Sometimes that is not possible either. But once they have beaten you to a pulp, you might actually be stronger than them and be freer.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 3:26pm BST

Four-thirds, pi r cubed, David, Elena tells me. So were you talking about John Dalton with his atomic theory, or Hugh Dalton, brief post war Chancellor?

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 7:13pm BST

Pluralist,
I agree with you. If you look at Good Friday and Easter Sunday with reference to your own life, there is true potential for growth and freedom.
The problem arises when, as is often the case, Christians look at it with reference to the lives of others and then use their superior saved status as a tool to clobber those they consider to be still failing.

Richard Harris in his article on ++ Rowan (one thread above) points out that “One of the threads running through his writing is the idea that true religion always leads one to question oneself, rather than make claims over others. Jesus is not a possession or a badge of superiority, but the one before whom you stand, in gentle self-questioning.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 9:45pm BST

Rowan Williams says: "And in relationships between persons or groups more or less equal and grown-up, going forward requires us all to learn a measure of openness to discovering things about ourselves we did not know, seeing ourselves through the eyes of another. What they see may be fair or unfair, but it is a reality that has been driving someone’s reactions and decisions. We’d better listen, hateful and humiliating though it may be for some of us."

Reading between the lines, he might as well be referring to the current difficulties in the AC. Is he hinting at a possible US trip?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 10:53pm BST

"No penal substitution from Canterbury Cathedral, then."

Pluralist - quite the opposite!

++Rowan:
"Now what the events of Good Friday and Easter tell us is that every single human being is implicated in something profoundly wrong. We say, rather glibly, that Jesus died for our sins, that he died to save humankind... There is only one innocent character in that drama and it isn’t me or you... He is there on the cross because we are the way we are."

Compare with J.I. Packer (Celebrating the Saving Work of God):
"Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgement for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption and glory".

In "The Contemporary Christian" John Stott also addresses PSA, not as a vengful God taking out anger on Jesus, but Jesus becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

There are very brutal forms of PSA that most evangelicals will reject. But if we reject PSA wholesale, why did we need Jesus to reconcile us to God and how does his death and resurrection accomplish reconciliation?

Chris

Posted by: Chris on Monday, 9 April 2007 at 11:06pm BST

“One of the threads running through his writing is the idea that true religion always leads one to question oneself, rather than make claims over others. Jesus is not a possession or a badge of superiority, but the one before whom you stand, in gentle self-questioning.”

But religion also gives one the confidence that Paul calls parrhesia, the confidence that Luther had -- the confidence to confront the world in the name of Christ and at the prompting of the Spirit. This is more central to Christianity than self-questioning.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 2:45am BST

Jesus is innocent, yes, but he becomes sin for us -- Paul says that, or something like it -- and Barth has a lot about it too. I think it is odd that people want to wash the sin off the Paschal Lamb!

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 8:36am BST

"But religion also gives one the confidence that Paul calls parrhesia, the confidence that Luther had -- the confidence to confront the world in the name of Christ and at the prompting of the Spirit. This is more central to Christianity than self-questioning".

Absolutely. But it has to go hand in hand with continuous self examination and a constant willingness to be challenged and to change. Otherwise it ends in self satisfied lecturing and condemnation of those who hold different views. The key ingredient should be a measure of humility.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 9:52am BST

David (mynsterpreost)

Yes, I did note the Bishop's comments and have posted elsewhere.

The difficulty with prophecy is that God does not always chooose perfect vessels (the latter is the exception rather than the rule).

A good rule of thumb is that if God has raised up one of your enemies as a prophet, where do you need to get your house in order. That is where the Muslim courtesy to all prophets kicks in. Sometimes your enemies have an uncomfortable home truth to tell you.

If you listen meekly and take on the lesson, you can advert a bigger disaster, as happened to Ninevah with Jonah.

It you idolise your own paradigms too strongly, you can find yourself in a really embarassing and messy space as the core lesson from the prophet is learnt the hard way.

Mullah Omah and the Iranian President were raised, that is not our choice or will. We can learn the lessons that God wanted us to learn either the easy or the hard way. The delivery of the lesson is our choice.

Remember Mullah Omar vision's included a swallowing by the earth. That need be only metaphysical if we take on the lessons of renouncing idolatry... Mullah Omar was also raised when I was told to go to ground because the listening process had stalled.

God works with both right and left, male and female, good and bad, pure and impure.

It would be nice for humanity to survive this evolutionary step, but it is not obligatory. We live in hope that it will.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 10:08am BST

eight thirds pi r cubed = two spheres:-)

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 3:41pm BST

Oh, I'm no good at science. atom - smallest piece of an element that keeps its chemical properties, molecule - smallest piece of a compound that keeps its chemical properties (made of two or more atoms). Why *two* spheres?

(Doesn't alter the good sermon - one ball was held up, thus not my confusion but the scientist alongside me who said, reading the posting, "Something is wrong.")

Rowan Williams talks about a drama and "He is there on the cross because we are the way we are." But he does not say what happens, or in what way. I think he is marching up the hill of penal substitution, but he might be going somewhere else (or sat to have a picnic).

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 7:16pm BST

Final point on this (from me): having attended Wednesday morning I now understand "eight-thirds, pi r cubed". It is not mathematical talk, nevermind scientific talk. It is a form of theological talk.

Other theological alternatives are: "Shoe menders", "Son of Odin and Frigg punctuation", or "papal document waste".

Those of us who do theology should be aware of such obscurities. I don't know how it got past me.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 1:36pm BST

Pluralist offered:
"Son of Odin and Frigg punctuation"

took me a few moments to solve - but I like it!

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 2:12pm BST

'...Rowan Williams talks about a drama and "He is there on the cross because we are the way we are."....'

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 at 7:16pm BST

"He is there on the cross " What does this mean ? Easter never 'happened' ? I know preachers often speak like this, and that is a poetic metaphor,- flight of the pious imagination. But even seen as a literary or rhetorical device, what does it, in fact, mean? I genuinely think it is a problematic convention to employ; and that preachers seem not to understand this.

Where does Easter and resurrection come in (if at all) ?


"...because we are the way we are." I find this medieval convention has an unreal feel to it; and a sense that we are being emotionally manipulated.

These are very serious issues in terms of what preachers (high or low profile) communicate to the nation. Many people will not accept arguments lacking in intellectual sense, or tinged with old fashioned manipulation.

This is a real issue for spirituality both within and beyond the Church which often feels like a self imposed ghetto. I would like to see the 'Church' taking an interest in the lives and spirituality of 'ordinary' poeple. And yes, ready to learn ---not just pronounce .

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 7:14pm BST

Yes - he is there on the cross because the Romans put him there. Sometimes theologising does take liberties. That's what I mean, there is a nod to penal substitution, but it stops half way (and does include emotional manipulation).

When I did my service, I wrote:

____Jesus is mocked, beaten, and spat upon, his back torn with scourges, his head in pain from those thorns made like a crown. The heavy cross is laid on his shoulders and causes more pain. He must carry the means of his own execution, the weight of the cross symbolising the weight of sin. The Cross he takes is his altar: Jesus is to be sacrificed upon it, once and for all.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, this heavy cross is a burden we all must bear. Many times it is pushed aside despite it having the measurements of each one of us. Help us carry the Cross and teach us the lessons of the Cross. Amen.

...where we cannot be righteous, because we have sin, nail us to our cross.____

http://www.enk.freeuk.com/religion/stationsliturgy.html

Meanwhile the mentioned above Easter Day service by Rev. David Rowett (Mynsterpreost) is added to my website with his permission:

http://www.enk.freeuk.com/religion/easterday.html

Or go to my website and click on Spiritual (top menu)

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 12 April 2007 at 1:16am BST
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