The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This and That, No. 8 (Maundy Thursday Edition)

Holy Week, which began five days ago with Palm Sunday, the feast commemorating Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is drawing to a close. The Triduum Sacrum began today with Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, the Passover which Jesus Christ celebrated with His disciples, at which He commissioned the sacrament of the Eucharist, following which He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of the High Priests, who charged and convicted Christ with blasphemy, then brought Him before Pontius Pilate and demanded His crucifixion. Tomorrow, which is Good Friday, is the annual memorial of Christ's death. On Holy Saturday we remember Christ's lying in the tomb and anticipate Easter Sunday, when Christ our Savior triumphed over death and rose victorious from the grave.

My Lenten essays have focused upon the significance to us of the events we remember this week (and which should be foremost in our thoughts throughout the entire year). In my first Lenten essay The Centre of Christianity, I wrote about how the person of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Christian faith. Christianity is not just a bunch of lessons about how we should be good and selfless and kind to other people. Jesus placed His identity as God's Son and man's redeemer at the heart of His message. In my second Lenten essay, The Sacrifice, I talked about the significance of Christ's death, which we will be remembering tomorrow. It was not an act of martyrdom. It was not just a tragedy. It was not an example given to teach us non-resistance. It was a sacrifice, in which God once and for all dealt with man's sin, so that He could forgive us and reconcile us to Himself. In The Righteousness of God and Man, I talked about the difference between human standards of righteousness and God's, how God demands of us perfect heart righteousness, a demand we cannot meet, but when we trust Christ, God gives to us the righteousness He demands so as to make us acceptable to Him. In Law and Gospel I discussed the differences between the Old and New Testament, emphasizing the orthodox Christian teaching that the same God is at work in both Testaments, and pointing to the basic difference between the message of the Law and the message of the Gospel. The Law shows us the righteousness God requires of us - a requirement we cannot meet, and which the Law is powerless to produce. The Gospel shows us the righteousness God freely gives in Christ and through faith transforms our lives. In Gospel Promises and Assurance, I talked about how we can rest confidently, in the promises God makes to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and be assured that through His saving work for us, we have everlasting life.

Needless to say, I have not exhausted this theme. Since Lent is a period of Penitence I would have liked to have written an essay on repentance, but I did not find the time to do so. The basic gist of the essay would have been that just as faith is an ongoing confidence in Christ so repentance is not a one-time act, done at conversion but never to be repeated, but is rather something we should be doing on a daily basis. I would also have liked to have written a topic directly on the subject of grace, but it is a topic that I hope has come across as a major underlying theme of all the previous essays. God's grace is His selfless giving, motivated entirely by His own love, to sinners who don't deserve it, everything that they need. God's saving grace is His gift to us of the Savior we needed in His Son Jesus Christ. Grace is God's initiative and not a response to any merit on our part.

My essays will continue to focus on theological themes until Trinity Sunday.

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