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Pascha: Christ’s Rescue Mission
A priest, a minister, and a rabbi went to a funeral home. This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Actually, a few weeks ago, I participated in a forum on how different religious faiths respond to issues of dying and death. One of our sessions was actually at a funeral home. We—the priest, the minister, and the rabbi—shared our agreement on certain issues and themes and we respectfully noted our differences. The participants came from a variety of religious and non-religious back-grounds.
Our common issue, one that confronts everyone who comes into the world, is the origin of death. Certainly the clergy agreed that death was not God’s plan for His Creation: Death resulted instead when our first parents disobeyed God. Adam and Eve chose to live on earth according to their own standards and so, they forfeited the hope of immortality that comes only through obedience to Him.
I can’t tell how many attendees really grasped the fact that death was not of God. We didn’t poll them and it wasn’t our purpose to convince them. Yet, to understand that death is not part of the created order is essential to understand the whole mission of Christ: His Incarnation and ministry, His passion, death and burial, and above all, His glorious Resurrection from the dead.
If Christ’s mission was not a rescue mission, if death were a part of the natural order, then it would seem that God is merely playing games with man. In other words, if death were God’s intent from the start, it would make God unjust: creating man to die in the first place, only to tempt him with the offer of immortality.
Man was created for eternity but chose the temporal. He was made for Paradise but chose death on his own. And God, who is not only just but merciful, became one of us, to rescue us and give us eternal life through the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of his own Son. It is on this point that religions differ. The priest and the minister might still be in concert, but the rabbi would diverge here.
Everyone on the face of the planet ultimately must come to terms with this divergence: who Christ is and why he has come into the world. One way or another, one decides. Either God is just and merciful, or he is not. Either, man has been created for a purpose or life is without meaning. Either Christ is risen, or our faith is vain (cf. I Cor. 15:14).
The Resurrection of Christ is God’s ultimate sign of justice and assurance of mercy. It is the stamp of his character on the whole creation. Already that creation longs for and groans for the redemption of our bodies. Already we yearn for our resurrection through Christ (cf. Rom. 8:22-23). That is truly why we are longing for Pascha, now: to shout with every fiber of our being:
Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!
From the Rector’s Desk,
Also From Father’s Desk
It is a Great Joy to announce the ordination of Deacon David Smith to the Holy Priesthood on Saturday, June 18, at 9 a.m. at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Beavertown. A banquet will follow at the Beavertown Fire Hall. Please circle this in red on your calendar and make every effort to attend and celebrate. Deacon David is the seventh man to enter ordained ministry from Holy Trinity.
- We grieve with Seminarian Matt Fuhrman (PSU/OCF Class of ’06) at the unexpected death of his brother Brandon while on active duty with the U.S. Army in Germany, on April 5. On a joyful note, Matt will be ordained to the Holy Diaconate on Bright Saturday, May 7 at Tikhon’s Monastery Chapel. He will be the ninth man to be ordained from Holy Trinity. Your prayers and presence are requested.
- We extend sympathy to Justin Houser, Council Secretary, at the death of his grandmother Julia Breon of Bellefonte, April 10.
- The Guest Suite at Trinity House hosted its first guests this April. The space is ideal for visiting alumni and parents of OCF students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.