The 2017 Easter Message from Bishop Richard
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[David] foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts Chapter 2
On Sunday, throughout the world, millions of Christians will celebrate the resurrection. Each denomination will have its own emphasis to share. There are so many ways of looking at the Easter event. In the Orthodox Tradition, the icon of the Resurrection will be placed in the church for the forty days of Easter (see image above). The icon does not actually depict what happened on Easter morning but rather what took place on Holy Saturday. It shows Christ descending into Hades and raising all those who had fallen through death.
As with all icons, you need to know the code, as it were, that accompanies the picture and makes sense of the symbols. The icon has a perspective deeper than words.
Christ is in white garments because he is the light of the world and he breaks into the darkness of death and unbelief.
Christ is standing on two doors, which are the brass gates of Hades, now broken down because of the Resurrection. Scattered near the gates are the locks and keys that bound humanity to Hades.
The most prominent figures in the icon, after Christ, are Adam and Eve, the first human beings that God had fashioned, the symbols of a human race created in God’s image and likeness, who distorted that image through sin. Adam and Eve are now given a new chance and a restored image. Please note the way Christ is relating to Adam and Eve. He does not greet them by shaking their hands – shaking hands implies a meeting of equals. Rather, he grasps them by the wrists and pulls them out of death. Only he, the God who dies and lives, is able to rescue them.
At Easter, we celebrate the raising of Christ who rescues us from eternal death. A recent survey revealed how many in the country are agnostic or do not believe in the resurrection. It’s understandable in a society that finds death difficult to talk about. But intellectual assent or dissent is not the real issue. We do not meet God as equals or as holders of our own destiny. Only Christ can pull us away from death and give us eternal life. Deep down we all know that we cannot escape death although it is possible to go through life without giving it much thought or wanting to evade the subject. The reality is that we are small and powerless in the presence of death. Yet, there is hope. Any movement towards God, any holding out to him, will be greeted with a firm grasp from Christ who yanks us towards new life and union with him.
This is the joy and hope of the resurrection. Christians proclaim it in art, music and word. It allows us freedom to live life with a boldness that gives a fresh perspective. In a time of uncertainty and fear, it is important that Christians hold to this message of eternal life, which only comes from God. At this Eastertide, God not only welcomes all, he holds everyone who reaches out to him because only he can.
May I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter.