We really should re-read God’s Old Testament promises to the people of Israel during this octave of Easter. God’s promises and warnings just highlight the value and precious life of renewal that we have been given in Easter. This historical undercurrent gives a fresh dynamic to our experience of Easter.
First, we should see this gift as a gift in history. As such, it is fragile. We can drift away from it, to the extent that we can even lose Easter – and become blind to its meaning. ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it…and the Lord shall scatter you among the nations.’ The state of Christian faith and community cohesion shows that we should face God’s Easter presence from the perspective of the Jewish people. The Sacred can be lost, if we are lost for the Sacred.
As indeed it this case of how our churches suffer from losing the connection with the ‘centres’ of our faith. ‘And there ye shall serve gods, the works of men’s hands, wood and stone [and technology], which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.’ The prospect of losing our Easter should be a sobering experience, an imperative for conversion.
However, this is the nature of the gift of Easter, the rays of the Resurrection, will always reach and address us. The communion with the Resurrected Jesus surfaces in all circumstances when our ‘loss’ and becoming prodigal is recognised. ‘But it from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God [your Easter!], thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all your heart and with all thy soul.’ Indeed, this is the mark of Easter in us: we are capable of mobilising our whole being. We are marked by Jesus’ full self-emptying for us and we can reciprocate it through our renewed love.
When we contemplate Easter, we can see clearly how through this focal point of love we are being regenerated by God. What we celebrate in Easter is our formation as a community by our risen Lord.
When we contemplate the Eucharist in the Adoration, this ‘light of communion’ shines on us. In the Bread, which is the body of the Resurrected Lord, we here the summoning voice of God. ‘Ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs?’ In the Eucharistic adoration, which is the condensed meaning of Easter, we celebrate our formation and recollection by the Lord of History.
The Eucharist, its contemplation, becomes our Easter-Creed when look upon it. ‘Know therefore this day, and consider it I thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon earth beneath.’
In the Acts we can see the same gift of our formation as a community. ‘And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.’
This is perfect unity. They wanted to give utmost expression to this union, that is why ‘Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands of houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.’
The question is not whether this ideal was sustainable or not, as it failed because of human weakness. This was not a model for organising society. Rather these gestures can be seen as the expression of the desire to form our identity in Christ. As such, this is a blueprint for our Anglican Catholic community here at St Augustine’s: we desire to be rooted in our Tradition with one heart. With an undivided heart.
The above scene of distribution also shows that they acted in the spirit of Jesus. They felt, that through acts of sharing, Jesus was acting among them. This ‘presence’ is worth observing. The enthusiastic conversion of whole communities is owing to the fact that Jesus was well known in Jerusalem; the Palm Sunday welcome clearly showed it. Now they converted to his memory. They converted to the Resurrected Jesus as their Master.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..