Human history is the story of humanity’s rejection of God. Created in his image and after his likeness, our race has chosen to accept slavery to sin and death rather than the freedom offered by God.
Seeing mankind in this fallen state, God did not abandon those whom he loves. He brought Abraham—a central figure in the Book of Genesis and in all human history—and made from him a new nation, God’s own nation, and gave him a promise that in Abraham’s seed all will be blessed.
From Abraham came Isaac, and from Isaac came Jacob from whom came the Twelve Patriarchs. But in all of these descendants, none could free humanity from slavery to sin and death—rather, despite failings, they were ultimately able to produce the most perfect mere-human, the Blessed Virgin Mary whose Nativity we are still celebrating. The Theotokos was not caught by sin, not enslaved by it, but she was still in a world which was fallen and could not escape it: she, and she alone, could say to the Archangel in all humility, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
And from the Blessed Virgin came one who had the power to remove our bondage to sin and therefore to death. His becoming human (we use the word “incarnation”) did not accomplish this, though. He told his mother early in his ministry, “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) Because while you and I were born to live, and our dying is therefore an unnatural tragedy, Christ was born to die. And not merely to die, but to die the most violent and painful of deaths—from where we get the word excruciating—death on a Cross.
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.John 12:32–33
But Christ’s death is different from ours. Christ is perfect life—when the positive meets the negative the negative is destroyed, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)—and when perfect life meets death, death is destroyed.
Christ is risen! Not only two thousand years ago, Christ is risen and is alive here and now. This is the fundamental belief of Christians. And more so, if Christ is risen and if I put on Christ then my death—unless the Lord returns first—will be as life-bearing as his and I will rise to new life with him.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.John 12:24–26
This week we commemorate the discovery of the means by which our salvation was achieved: in the year 326 St Helen discovered the Cross of Christ which was lifted up by the Bishop of Jerusalem for all to honour. The Cross, a means of torture and death, has become for us the Throne of the King, the symbol of life, our protection and emblem. God came in to our world and transformed it, purified it, sanctified it.
And now is our turn. Now it is for us to purify and sanctify where we live—our homes, our towns, our countries, our world—and we start with ourselves. God has given us the means to be the human beings we were created to be: now it is our move.
Make the sign of the Cross to bless yourself and to bless this world.
Services this week
Friday 10rd September
Discussion on the book of Genesis, 8 pm
Saturday 11th September
Vespers, 6.30 pm
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh
Sunday 12th September
Liturgy, 9.30 am
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh
Please note the new time for Vespers (since September). No need to register for services at St Francis’ Hall: please come, all are welcome. We ask you to wear a mask unless you are exempt.
Online session is via Google Meet, please get in contact for the details.
There will be no services at St Francis’ Hall 18th–19th September.
We will be meeting at St Francis’ Hall, Nightingale Avenue, Eastleigh, SO50 9JA. Come and See.
With love in Christ