Home > Bp. Breidenthal, DSO Events, Theology > Transcript: Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon (4 April 2010)

Transcript: Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon (4 April 2010)

18 April 2010

Elder’s Note:  The link to the recording is on this page.   There are two or three things in this that I’d like to discuss, and I will work these articles in piecemeal over the next week or two.  For now, I’m going to do something different – post the transcript and close it initially (though temporarily) to comments.  Once I’ve got my thoughts published, I’ll open this up to comments.  Fair ’nuff?  🙂

“If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation.  The old has passed away. Look, the new has come.”

So writes Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians.  The earliest Christians made much of the fact that Jesus rose in the early hours of Sunday, the first day.  They saw in this a recapitulation of God’s mighty act of creation, beginning on the first day when God created light.  And they saw in Jesus’ resurrection the possibility that whatever had gone wrong in the human race was receiving the possibility of a new beginning.  So that what God intended in the first place for our glory and God’s glory could once again be picked up and carried on with, so that we in Christ might begin to move toward our original perfection;  To receive through Him a new innocence, to move again towards our destiny, as that creature given power to give voice to every creature under Heaven –  to worship God, to know God, and to give thanks to God for God’s creative act.  So we are being invited this Easter morning as every Easter morning to be part of the new creation that has been inaugurated in Jesus Christ. 

What does that entail?  I’d like to tell you a story that I told at Trinity-Columbus Square last Sunday, Palm Sunday.  Augustine of Hippo, the great North African bishop, who intended to write a commentary on the entire book of Genesis, but only got through the first three chapters, and it’s still quite long, begins his book by asking two questions:  How could God create light on the first day when there was as yet no sun or moon or stars?  What was that light that he created? And secondly, because he was not Jewish he was confused by the refrain that begins with the first day and moves through all seven of them, “..and the evening and the morning were the first day.”  Jews always count the day from the evening.  But Augustine was confused, and he said, “why is evening first, and then morning?” 

Well his answer to the question about light is this: He said, the light must have been the host of angels, the pure intellectual creation, created by God solely to know God’s love and to return it with thanks.  And as for the movement from evening to morning, Augustine says, well, Creation takes place in two acts not just one:  First, God has to say, “Be.” – that’s the evening;  And the angels who are the first things created to be, lift up their voices and say, “Yes, thank you,” – and that’s the morning.  Augustine got there because he had read at the end of the book of Job that, at the day of the creation, the Children of the Morning praised god. 

Well, we like the angels are called to know God and to appreciate God’s love and so we like the angels are called to receive God’s creative word, His command that we should be and his desire that we should be.  And we are called to lift up our voices to say, ‘yes, thank You for making us, thank You for sustaining us, thank You for calling us into the challenge of new life.’  We are called to ‘yes’ – The yes which is the heart of our worship sunday by Sunday by Sunday because after all, the word eucharist means, ‘thank you.’ 

And the yes to which we are called in all our relationships with one another.  We are called not only to say yes to God but to each other to each one of us: ‘Yes, I am glad that God created you, I am glad that God sustains you, I am glad that you exist, I am glad that we are together no matter how challenging and difficult that may sometimes be; Yes, yes, yes.’ 

The problem is that sometimes we can hardly imagine ourselves saying yes so unreservedly to God and to our neighbor.  We know what yes should look like.  We know that we should love others as Jesus loves us, knowing this means even loving those who have hurt us, or who may not deserve our love. On a larger scale we know this means not giving into the forces that divide us in our society.  We know that as Christians, whatever our political party, whatever our approach to the common good, we are called to resist the dreadful polarization that paralyzes our common life.  We know what it means to say yes, but it may be very difficult to imagine acting it out. 

Again, we know that saying yes means giving to others as Jesus has given to us pouring out his own life for our sake.  We know that we are to be delighted to share what we have earned with others with those who have less, with those who deserve it, and with those who don’t deserve it.  We know that we are called to work together to support public education, to support the dignity of everyone, and safety for all and to give of our resources for that.  But it is hard to imagine freely giving away what we have earned from such difficulty.  How can we contribute our resources and our wisdom to address the root causes of violence in our city? 

Finally, we know that we are called to mingle ourselves with others just as Jesus has mingled Himself with us.  Jesus was criticized in his ministry, because He mingled with sinners and tax collectors.  We are called to mingle to the homeless, and the drunk in Washington Square.  We are called to mingle with people who we are perhaps nervous around in our office and workplace,  in the school, even at church.   And we are called on a larger scale to pursue inner city development that keeps us mixed.

But all this is easier said than done.  We are so much in the habit of ‘no’ rather than ‘yes.’  We are so much in the habit of ‘no,’ that it seems more natural to us than yes.  It seems so much more natural than yes, that to be invited into a life of yes may sound like being invited into death, lest we not recognize ourselves on the other side of it.  Yes.  God knows this;  God knows that we are imprisoned in the Chains of No.  God knows this and has made known to us that God continues to say yes to us, no matter how much and in how many ways we say no to God and to one another.  God’s yes originally to us anticipated in the command that there be light –  That yes has been repeated in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Who is God’s own Word come, so close to us, that He might heal and sanctify us from within.  God, has said yes to us in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  God has said yes to us in the infinite love of Christ demonstrated on the Cross.  God has said yes to us in the harrowing of Hell in which Jesus went into the very place of death to grab those who had died and drag them into the light.  God has said yes to us in raising Jesus from the dead, the same Jesus who greeted the disciples who had abandoned Him with the words, “Peace be with you, my own peace I leave with you.”  God has said yes to us in the Holy Spirit that is Christ’s own first gift to His church.  And more importantly, God has said yes to us in giving us a Savior Who in His humanity becomes our yes, back.  Who when we are unable to move past no on our own, is able to speak for us. 

As Paul says, “not I but Christ living in me.”  So that today on this Easter day we are able in the power of Christ and of Christ’s Spirit truly to answer with the angels,  “yes,” and, “thank-you.”  And when we stretch out our hands to say, ‘amen,’ when we are given the consecrated bread which is the body of our Lord broken for us, and given the cup which is the blood of our Lord shed for us, we say ‘amen’ which is Hebrew for ‘yes.’  Taking in the One who is our yes, and that’s enough for today.  We have the rest of our lives to live into that yes.  All that God asks of us is to let Jesus enter into our hearts so that He may be our ‘yes’ and our ‘thank-you.’  And the Holy Spirit will work in us and do the rest.  Indeed, Christ’s power working in us will bring us to surprising transformations; to surprising and challenging ministries; and to surprising occasions for resurrection.

“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Look, the old has passed away the new has come.”

Alleluia, amen.

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