It is the feast of the Resurrection (aka Easter).
Anglicans - members of the Church of England - believe that "Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day." (Article IV)
But what difference does it make? It is sometimes said that people are "So heavenly minded, they are no earthly use."
That can never be true of Christians. If we are to be of any earthly use, we can never be too heavenly minded. In the reading set for the epistle today in the Book of Common Prayer, St Paul writes, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
The failures of the Church are largely that we have set our minds on things that are below - sometimes with the hope of affecting the world. But the paradox of the gospel is that if you want to change the world, you must live as if this world is passing away, and you are just passing through.
Seek gain, advantage and prosperity in this world and it will swallow you up because the values of this world - the things which you need to "mortify" in yourself - will conform you to its ways. You will bend to the world, or fight and slay for the kingdom, and you may gain the whole world, but it will have conquered you.
Die to the world, and you will change it.
And it needs changing. We live in an increasing compass-less society yet where whoever holds the tiller of the 'ship of state' does so with an ever-firmer grip. In the name of democracy, we are dictated to by our fellow men and women as never before.
As Christ arose, so we must arise to new life. Dying to self and to the world we will change both ourselves and the world in which we live.
Revd John P Richardson
23 March 2008
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