Bishop Eric Menees
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Last Sunday’s gospel lesson from the twentieth chapter of John reported that amazing meeting in the upper room between Jesus and his disciples. “21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’” (John 20:21)
We are reminded in Jesus’ words that Christianity is not a passive faith, but an active faith! Now, where in scripture does Jesus say, “Sit back, relax, take a load off and I will take care of everything?” Jesus does say, “I’m sending you out into a violent world with the message of peace and forgiveness!”
All throughout the first five centuries after the Resurrection, Christians were put to death for refusing to deny their faith. Caesar required everyone to offer a pinch of incense to an idol, give a token amount of money, and say the words, “Caesar is Lord.” For their faithfulness, Christians were executed by the thousands, and yet they didn’t organize a violent revolt. They went willingly to their executions, giving the sign of the cross as a witness to the crowds prior to their execution. This, in large part, is the root for our making the sign of the cross. It was a way of saying to the crowds gathered, “I’m dying for my faith in Christ and not because I’m a thief or a prisoner of war.”
In the present day, Christians are being martyred in even greater numbers than in the first centuries, and still we do not organize violent responses. On Monday in Holy Week we saw that in spades, as Fr. Boules George, of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Egypt, preached a sermon the day after the Palm Sunday terrorists killed 45 people in that church and another. Fr. George entitled his sermon, “Thank You” It is an amazing sermon, and I invite you to read it – it will be posted on the diocesan website before too long. In the meantime, here is the link: http://www.copticdadandmom.com/fr-boules-george/
Fr. George captured the essence of Resurrection faith and the Easter Message in this sermon.
This is what Jesus sends us out to do, with a message of love, peace, and mercy.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.