Easter Season 1998 Message
Resurrection is profoundly unsettling, because it is an overturning of reality as we perceive it and an entrance into what St. Paul can only describe as dying and rising in union with Christ, which is tantamount a "new act of creation."
In the Eastern tradition the mystery of resurrection is celebrated in an icon which shows the risen Christ standing on the battered-down doors of Hell, below which are to be seen locks and chains and other signs of bondage and imprisonment. His arms are extended to Adam and Eve. And, grasping them firmly by their wrists, Christ is literally pulling them out of their boxlike tombs into the full force and freedom of his risen life.
As I contemplate this icon, I am put in mind of a poem by George Herbert, The Dawning:
Arise sad heart; if thou dost not withstand,
Christ's resurrection thine may be;
Do not by hanging down break from the hand
Which as it riseth, raiseth theeâ¦
The question I am then bidden to ask myself is, "How am I resisting Christ's grasp? In what ways do I prefer the security of my limited and constricted vision of life, of the Church, of my own place in the risen Christ's ever-unfolding and all-embracing ministry of reconciliation, reordering and making all things new? In what ways do I resist being forcibly pulled out of my places of confinement into the deathless freedom of Christ?"
In an ancient Easter homily Christ addresses Adam and Eve with these powerful words: "Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise. Let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separatedâ¦ the banquet is readyâ¦the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity."
As we celebrate the Paschal mystery, may we as limbs of Christ's risen Body and members of the Anglican Communion, be firmly held in Christ's resurrection grasp and rise up, leaving fear and self-preoccupation behind, and enter into the treasure house of God's new creation. The banquet is ready. Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA