Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"He Descended into the Lowest"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 -- Tuesday in Easter Week

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)
Psalms 103 (morning)       111, 114 (evening)
Exodus 12:28-39
1 Corinthians 15:12-28 
Mark 16:9-20

"For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ."  Paul expresses Christ's victory as a complete victory.  Just as all humanity experiences mortal death as our shared inheritance through Adam, so also all humanity shall experience resurrection through Christ, for his victory is greater than Adam's fall.  Paul's testimony is among many expressions of a universal salvation, a faith that God's triumph in Jesus will be complete, that God will lose nothing and no one.

When we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, we were shown a location near the base of the hill Golgotha which is said to be the grave of Adam.  One legend says that Christ's blood seeped into the ground to touch Adam's remains and to raise Adam into the new life.  Many icons of the crucifixion show Adam's skull at the foot of the hill.  

Another tradition expressed in various ways asserts that Jesus "descended into the lowest" (the Greek translation) as we say in the Apostles' Creed, "he descended into hell."  1 Peter has a couple of references to the proclamation of Jesus' resurrection "to the spirits in prison" and "even to the dead."  Icons of Jesus' "harrowing of hell" are often prominent in Orthodox worship on Holy Saturday.  Twentieth Century Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Bathasar, who has greatly influenced Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, speaks of Christ's suffering continuing beyond his death, through his separation from the Father and his sojourn into Sheol to conquer godlessness, abandonment and death.

One legend tells of Jesus' opening the gates of hell and cleaning out the netherworld.  It is said that after hell had been emptied of its contents and Jesus had led its inhabitants out, Jesus continued to look for one who was still missing.  Finally, in a distant dark corner, hidden away from all others, he found him -- Judas.  And Jesus came to him.  There was another kiss, this time it is Jesus who kisses Judas.  It is the kiss of peace, and the traitor is forgiven and restored to the resurrection fellowship.



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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