THE PARISH REGISTER
St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
March 1997

 

The Week Called "Holy"

by Bishop Franklin H. Sellers, D.D.
(Reprinted from the Parish Register, April 1982.)

In our Book of Common Prayer, the collect, Epistle and Gospel for each Sunday in Lent lead us step by step through the season until we come to Passion Week, the climatic week that testifies of Christ's entry into Jerusalem in a manner the Old Testament foretold. The days of the week that mark the period from Palm Sunday through Easter are important to us. It is not our purpose to provide a detailed account of the action of Jesus Christ that week -- rather, we would like to point out select events and dwell upon their significance.

An example can be found in the method Jesus chose to enter the capital city at the time of Passover. Matthew's record in the twenty-first chapter, verses four and five, states, "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." This is an indication that Jesus was the fulfillment of promises made by God to the chosen people that a Messiah would come and that he would lay claim to the throne of David. The people responded with the Hallel chant of Psalm 118, "Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

The next event we study is his entry into the Temple. In the Court of the Gentiles, the part of the Temple which was accessible to everyone, Jesus had launched his attack on the merchants and bankers. He laid about him with a whip of cords and overturned the tables of the money changers and stalls of the pigeon sellers. "Take these things hence," he cried, "It is written: My House shall be a house of prayer for all nations; but you have turned it into a den of thieves." In the Temple at Jerusalem it was difficult to avoid using part of the sacred area for the needful exchange of heathen coinage, stamped with idolatrous images, for the Jewish currency that was free from such idols in accordance with the second commandment of the Decalogue. But such legitimate activity was converted to evil profiteering and the pursuit of gain. Jesus took upon himself the responsibility of the care and cleaning of "His" Temple. That this proclamation was made at the entry of great numbers of pilgrims, who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, made it all the more effective. The next day, he returned to teach and answer questions and in the evening left the Temple for the last time. He was never to enter it again-for the die was set. The Temple of the Old Testament was no longer necessary. It would be replaced by the Covenant of the Upper Room.

This was the next event of a great significance. It was there that Jesus Christ bequeathed to his Church a new symbol and established his authority to issue a New Covenant. In instituting this Sacrament and in the issuance of a new commandment, Jesus represented himself to be far more than a great prophet and of greater importance than a prime example of how a human being should live. In this upper room, Jesus, by his actions and words, answered the question of his identity. Only one co-equal with the Father could command obedience to a new law. Only one on a par with God himself could establish a new Sacrament-that of the Holy Communion. Thus, the theologic implications of the events in this room are of the greatest magnitude. Breaking bread and passing it around to the disciples, He said, "Take, eat. This is my body which is broken for you"-and, giving them the cup of wine, He said, "Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins." A few hours later, Jesus died a violent death upon a cross. His body was broken and his blood was shed, not as an accident, not as a mistaken martyr-Christ chose his death, knowing it would mean life for his disciples, just as food and drink meant life for them.

The prefix, "Good," attached to the day Friday is illuminating in that it expresses a Christian tenet that all things work together for good to them that love God. The cruel and vicious act of the Roman crucifixion turned out to be the basis for our atonement. God's love to the world was established in the sacrifice of his Son for the sins of the world. The great lesson taught by this day, which is marked with black chancel cloths, is that sin cannot be lightly dismissed. It separates all men from God and it is only over the bridge of reconciliation that the shed blood of Christ built that we again reach the Creator. God had revealed long ago that without the shedding of blood, remission of sin was impossible. Hence, the supreme sacrifice was required, one that was free of stain from committed sins, as well as the genetic mark of original sin.

Easter is the day of victory. It is the reason that Christians worship on the "first day" of the week, rather than the Sabbath day. It is a reminder that the darkness of Good Friday vanished in the dawning light of the Resurrection.

Implications in our celebration of this high holy day are numerous. We acknowledge that God is omnipotent, all powerful, not only in respect to the creation, but the conqueror of the great enemy of man--death! The Ruler of Heaven and Earth is declared the Ruler of Life and the Victor over death. Hence, the black hangings of Good Friday are changed to white to symbolize the new life that is the hope of all who cling to the Saviour. Christian experience is always capped with hope. It must also be noted that the Resurrection was not symbolic or confined to the Spirit of Jesus-it was a physical resurrection of the whole person of Jesus Christ in a body that was at once familiar and recognizable, and yet, strangely different. Easter is recognized as God's acceptance of the historic life, work and vicarious sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. If the Good Friday cry, "It is finished," marked the end of the atonement, the subsequent cry, "He is risen!" emphasized that Jesus Christ now belonged to the unborn generations of the future. The good news was historic fact. Forty days later, Jesus ascended into heaven promising the gift of power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you (John 14:16-18, 26).

Frank M. Levi


 

New Arrivals

Congratulations to Bryan & Tina Spencer on the birth of their baby girl Sarah Jean, born on January 28, 1997, 7 lbs. 6 oz. The proud grandparents are Carl & Elaine Spencer.


In Memoriam

William J. Nichols, Sr., age 78, passed away on February 7, 1997. Mr. Nichols is survived by his wife Dorothy (Fox). They would have been married 56 years on April 19, 1997. He is also survived by his three children, William, Jr., Judith, and Raymond, plus twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.


Good Friday Services
March 28, 1997

The Tinley Park Ministerial Association will conduct their service at 12:00 noon at the Village Hall. We will have our own service in the chapel at 7:30 PM.


Easter Breakfast
March 30, 1997
9:00 AM
Easter Worship Service
10:30 AM

The Service of Holy Communion begins at 10:30 AM. We hope everyone can be with us for worship on Easter as we celebrate our Lord and Savior's RESURRECTION!


Missionary of The Month

Rev. & Mrs. Gerhard Meyer (Grace)
Esther, Melody, Jessica, Joy
Youth/Camp/Pastoral Ministries
Richbergstr. 11
34639 Schwarzenborn
GERMANY

Easter Play
March 30, 1997
9:30 AM

"The Last Supper"


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