Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Holy Week and Easter 2006

 

“I will tell you a mystery! … 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'” --I Corinthians 15:51, 54 (NRSV)

 

Clergy are frequently asked for their take on movies with religious subject matter or themes. I've already been asked whether or not I plan to see the soon to be released "The Da Vinci Code". The movie is based on the book of the same name by Dan Brown. "The Da Vinci Code" is something of a publishing phenomenon. There is actually a web site where a number of clergy who have read the book respond to the question: Do you plan to see "The Da Vinci Code"?. Brown's book stands in a long line of lore and legend that takes Gospel material as a point of departure. "The Da Vinci Code" is a suspenseful work of fiction based on a secret legacy of Mary Magdalene. The romance and intrigue of Brown's mystery novel have thrilled millions of readers. "The Da Vinci Code" is complete with conspiracy theories, religious corruption, and references to technology and gadgets. Modern readers love it.

 

What is most intriguing is the response that the book has generated. Suspending disbelief is necessary any time we watch a movie or read a mystery novel. However, many readers of the "The Da Vinci Code" wonder if the plot of Brown's book is true in whole or in part. Even professional theologians have waded into the excitement and controversy spawned by Brown's story line. I suspect part of the reason for this is the thirst for the mystery and meaning of life. If only we could crack the code and solve the mystery. Perhaps the truth is "out there" some where. Perhaps someone is keeping the truth from us. The pay off consists in finding an answer.

 

The core of the Christian message has mystery at its heart. The life giving resurrection of Christ is the central mystery of faith. However, it is not a mystery to be solved but rather a mystery that inspires. In Scripture, the point and purpose of mystery is not to confound but to disclose. Disclosure, the opening up of God to the people of God, accompanies us on the path of justice and new life. For Mary Magdalene the empty tomb is not a secret to be cherished or a problem to be solved--it is an invitation to become open to the mystery of life. This is St. Paul's message to Christians in the city of Corinth. Ancient people were familiar with mystery religions and religions based on special insider knowledge. What Paul tells them is that the resurrection is a mystery made manifest. " Listen, I tell you a mystery…Death has been swallowed up in Victory." The resurrection of our Lord gives meaning to this life and makes visible our ultimate destination. It is the purpose of our work as a community of faith. Saints both ancient and modern have transformed their world because the mystery of their life in Christ transformed them. Jean Vanier, Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu, each have grasped something of the mystery of life. Their contribution to the lives of others flows from the Christ within them. The mystery of resurrection is food for thought-more importantly, it is bread for our journey.

 

The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis