Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

Posts Tagged "Taylor Carey":

Easter at Christmas: A Thought for Holy Week by Taylor Carey


The last time I heard Easter proclaimed triumphantly from the pulpit was actually on 25th December. Priests, you see, are exhausted for most of Advent, and leading the Christmas Day service is a bit like finishing a marathon. To add insult to injury, they’ve already had to address a congregation of boozed-up irregulars at midnight mass, in which the stench of alcohol threatens to overpower the incense. So, that Christmas morning, our poor priest hauled himself into the pulpit one last time, and gave a great cry: “Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!”

Of course, plenty of people had already stopped listening by this point, and so didn’t notice. They were probably thinking about their turkey, or the potential for their child to explode into a violent temper tantrum and demand presents. Some people, like the Churchwardens, grimaced (though perhaps this is the perennial vocation of Churchwardens), whilst others chuckled faintly. But, maybe because I’m an infuriatingly pious toad, I began to wonder if our unfortunate clergyman had a point.

I once read an interview with an Abbot, who said quite simply that Easter was the only thing Christianity had to offer today’s world. He didn’t mean the annual celebration, so much as what Christians take Easter to mean. If the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas invites us to ponder the self-giving, endlessly generative potential of that which we call God, then Easter offers Christians a way into an encounter with what that God is like. To put it into the sharp formulation of a famous work of theology, God is absolutely Christlike, and it is thus through the suffering of Christ, nailed to a tree, that we catch a glimpse of God’s nature.

Christ rises from the tomb, because nothing can hold Him back. Such is His perfect response to the endlessly creative God; his total communion with the loving Father. Various strands of philosophy and theology have found the fleshly realities of Easter somewhat disconcerting, to say the least. Remember the twin influence of Hebrew and Greek thought, so deeply woven into the Christian consciousness. Jewish eschatology pointed towards a ‘last day’ on which the dead would be raised (hence Martha’s ironic misunderstanding of Jesus at Bethany, in John’s Gospel), but, for Judaism, life after death, in Sheol, was quite literally a ‘shadowy’ affair. Of course, the Sadducees, Hellenised as they were, thought life after death to be a plainly ridiculous idea. Christianity has been marred by a history of dualism, too; everyone from Christian Platonists to Puritans has, at some stage, slipped into a crude distinction between soul and body.

But here’s the point that I think our hapless priest might just have distilled. God’s relationship with us arises through the material reality of our universe. Creation is a relationship, not a process, and what the Church witnesses to is the consistency of God in that relationship. A witness to this consistency must involve historical memory – the Church actually living out the possibilities of Christian humanity.

How do we know what these possibilities are? Well, they are laid before us most completely in the self-giving of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. It is Christ’s action which provides the basic focus of unity in all Christian language and discourse, and this to which we must return in thinking about growth in our lives of faith – and indeed the social, communal and political possibilities of the world.

Christians believe, then, that there is nothing which the outstretched arms of Christ cannot touch. Here is the essence of what Christianity has to offer. Easter is, in this sense, all we have to give the world; after all, what could possibly be more fundamental? At Easter, we know what that God, who survived a precarious birth in the slums of Bethlehem, is actually like. We are given afresh the possibilities of humanity, even amidst the most tragic realities of a compromised world; a world of suffering; a world that can see the unconditional love of God as a threat to be destroyed.

So, Happy Easter indeed. Given our brief reflections here, perhaps we ought to follow the example of that priest, and say it more often.


This reflection was originally broadcast as a thought for the day on ‘Marx My Word a Philosophy discussion programme on St Andrews Radio.

Taylor Carey

We rely on donations to keep this website running.