Saint James Anglican Church

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


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Easter 2008

 

"Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast"
-I Corinthians 5:7-8

 

There was never any mortal danger if you fell in; but the challenge was to cross over without slipping and getting wet feet. Near my childhood neighborhood there was a stream. There was one set of stepping stones that provided the only place to cross. Springtime provided the most skill testing opportunity to ford the brook. The water was slightly deeper and much colder during Spring. It was an incentive to remain sure-footed. The skill lay in making careful strides across the gaps with firm footing on the stepping stones. There were just enough stepping stones, well placed and well anchored, to keep the intrepid from splashing in the cold stream.

 

Our religious heritage is rich with stories of pilgrimage and crossing over. We hear about the people of God who cross over into a place rich with promise. We recount how The Divine crosses over into history and journeys with the people of God. Unlike a child's game, such crossings are often a demanding venture. They shape the character and identity of the whole community.

 

During Holy Week we are invited to make a symbolic journey, following in the footsteps of Christ. The introduction to the Palm Sunday liturgy maps out the way. "We follow him this week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection by way of the dark road of suffering and death." We join the children of the Hebrews who greeted Jesus on his royal entry into Jerusalem. The palms we carry mark the start of our pilgrimage. On Maundy Thursday the liturgy of the church dramatizes the servant ministry of Christ and the servant nature of those who would respond to his call to "follow me". We celebrate the gift of the Eucharist and with it Christ's abiding presence in his community on their journey. The heart of Good Friday is hearing again the account of the passion of Christ. We recall his complete solidarity with the human condition. The celebration of the Easter Vigil on Easter Eve is filled with powerful symbolism about crossing over and touching down on the other side. The first liturgy of Easter, the Christian Passover, is built around images of passing over from darkness to light, from death to life. The Easter liturgy sounds a keynote of the entire Easter season, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast."

 

Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter liturgies are observed with great devotion throughout the Christian world. Holy Week liturgies provide sure footing for those who walk in faith. The liturgies of Holy Week are the stepping stones that trace the path of Christ. We follow where Christ has led the way. The celebration of Holy Week joins Christ's crossing to our own. We hear it proclaimed as we step from Holy Week into Easter season with the opening greeting of the Great Vigil of Easter. 'This is the Passover of the Lord. We remember his death and resurrection by hearing his word and celebrating his mysteries; we are confident that we shall share his victory over death and live with him for ever in God."

 

-Canon Rod Gillis Holy Week and Easter, 2008