Throughout the biblical tradition, those called by God to proclaim His message, addressed their hearers exactly where they were. In the prophetic narrative, the prophets and seers used imageries unique to their context to proclaim ‘Thus says the Lord.’
Indeed the most powerful demonstration of contextualization is the Incarnation. In his prologue, John the Evangelist tells us that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’
The crowning festival of the Church’s liturgical year is the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Day. Throughout Christendom, apart from it ringing out ‘that the Lamb is King of kings’ in Chapel, Parish Church and Cathedral many who ordinarily would not have been present to participate in the Holy Eucharist, are present.
Places of worship are specially adorned with powerful reminders of the Risen Christ –the Easter lilies and other beautiful floral decorations, the best vestments and sanctuary dressings, brass and other metallic appointments well polished, and yes, the Paschal Candle.
This special Candle which is blessed during the Easter Vigil, is lit at all services until Ascension Day, reminding us stating emphatically, ‘The Light of Christ, thanks be to God!’ And yes, the joyful chanting of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, silenced from the beginning of Lent, accompanied by the often loud and joyful singing of Alleluia! Alleluia! all affirm: ‘it is true, the Lord is risen! Alleluia!’
All so telling, all so beautiful, and yes, all so necessary but only if fitted into our context. I often ask those whom I am privileged to serve, ‘What does all of this mean to a Christian living and witnessing in Guyana in the year 2011? The answers are quite startling. Admittedly, some reply that they simply don’t know.
This is not surprising because throughout history, one of the challenges of man has been to relate what he claims he believes to his everyday living. This inability for the two poles to come together -belief and true conduct- explains the many double standards with which we live and struggle.
For an individual living in Guyana in the year 2011, the message of the Lord’s resurrection is threefold. First of all, Jesus’ resurrection gives credibility to the claims He made of His Heavenly Father, Himself and Eternity, all during His earthly ministry.
The primary evidence of the reality of Jesus comes from the biblical narrative. If the scriptures affirm that there was one ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ who lived and ministered on this planet, and we accept that, then shouldn’t we accept the same information that He is alive, as is recorded in the same biblical narrative?
But this point has more substance than proof texting to justify the reality of Jesus of Nazareth The point is that Jesus whom we accept as real, is worthy of our trust. Whatever He may have been about, one thing is absolutely clear, He is indeed the Truth. Easter affirms that one so honest is deserving of our trust.
Our love of Jesus expresses itself in our trust of Him. In a world where the word trust is commonly and carelessly used by persons who themselves are untrustworthy, we see in Jesus, one in whom we can place our total trust and confidence.
Second, in the resurrection of Jesus we see the ultimate victory of God’s love over the forces of evil, with death being the most lethal. In the day to day struggles of life, do we not cry out from time to time ‘my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’
The pressures of mere survival take their toll and we are tempted to conclude that God has absented Himself from the narrative of our lives. But in the resurrection, Jesus assures us that no matter the magnitude of the problem or issue, the victory has already been achieved. It is a matter of us making the transition from where we are to where God desires us to be.
The Risen Christ provides this assurance, ‘in the world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ The Risen Christ dismantles death of its grip thereby enabling us to pass through the mystery of death unscathed into eternal life, that fuller presence with God, because ‘death has now power over Him!’ Nor does it have any power over us.
What does the message of the resurrection of Christ say to persons living in Guyana today? The message is that we must strive for a more God-focused perspective of life. Driving the streets, I see cars displaying on bumper stickers, ‘God’s Child’ and ‘God’s Gift’ all pointing to that religious nerve that is in each of us.
But the same cars run through red lights, are driven recklessly and demonstrate no street courtesy whatsoever.
Look at our moral compass. Sexual relations outside of Christian Marriage; the monopoly by some in business and enterprise based on colour, political affiliation or ethnicity coupled with unjust and unethical business practices; the failure to be honest and deal above board; political abuse where power and money circulate in the same quarters thereby marginalising and alienating the masses from the national patrimony; the unlawful invading of a gold or diamond miner’s dredge; the unauthorised interference with a fisherman’s net.
The message of the Risen Christ is one of moral challenge: ’since you are risen with Christ, seek those things that are above where Christ is.’ Our moral bar which is set by Christ Himself, must be upheld by those who claim to be His followers.
The All Saints’ Anglican Church was graced with the presence of His Lordship The Right Reverend Bishop Cornell Moss as he conducted Palm Sunday Mass in the absence of Archdeacon George Spencer.
The Bishop, who for the first time officiated at the Church in New Amsterdam commenced with the blessings of the Palms followed by the usual procession from Trinity Street into Church Street and back to the Church.
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