In this personal message, the Primate remembers the Easter images of his childhood church, Christ Church in Dartmouth, N.S. He also encourages Canadian Anglicans to “embrace afresh our calling as an Easter People.”
My love of Holy Week and Easter was nurtured early in life, in the church where I grew up.
Christ Church, Dartmouth (Nova Scotia) is cruciform in shape. Over the north transcept towers a window depicting the Crucifixion of Jesus with Mary his mother and John the beloved disciple at the foot of the Cross. The inscription reads “It is finished”. (John 19:30) Over the south transcept towers the Resurrection Window. An angel greets the women who had come early in the morning to the tomb, saying “He is not here. He is Risen”. (Luke 24:5) The great window over the altar portrays the Ascension of Christ and draws everyone’s contemplation to the blessings of his promise “I am with you always, even to the close of the age”. (Matthew 28:20)
It was in Christ Church that I first enjoyed the sweet smell of palm branches. It was there that I learned that Holy Week is a journey with Jesus. Following him day by day, the experience intensifies as we come to Maundy Thursday. Then we’re with him hour by hour through the events in the Upper Room and in Gethsemane. By Good Friday, our following is moment by moment through his suffering death and burial.
It was at that church that I first experienced the kindling of a new fire and the lighting of the Paschal Candle that stood among the lilies around the lectern. It was there that I learned that Easter is not one day but 50 — a glorious festival. Week after week, we hear stories of the Risen Lord appearing to his followers and accounts of the apostles’ preaching about the Resurrection and the new life that is ours in Christ.
Taught by faithful clergy and Sunday School teachers I know the Resurrection is not an idle tale as it seemed to some but the wondrous truth that “Jesus, who was crucified and buried, was raised up by God” (Luke 24:11) and of that said St. Peter, “we are all witnesses”. (Act 2:32)
Grateful for that place where I learned this faith and hope, and for every place in which I have been privileged to preside and preach at Easter, I pray that this year’s celebrations will be for all of us a time of great joy and renewed hope in Christ. For in him we are reconciled with God and raised to the new life of grace. In him we have confidence that things which were cast down are being raised up and that things which had grown old are being made new.
In this joyful Eastertide, may you and I embrace afresh our calling as an Easter People. May our hearts beat with the love of the Risen Lord and the hope and peace he bestows in the world.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!