This Sunday is traditionally known as "Low Sunday", because
although the celebration of Easter is carried through to this its Octave
Day, it is of a lesser degree.
In the collect for today, we address God as "Almighty Father" for the
first time in the Church's year. The events of the season remind
us of how this is possible, enabled as we are to approach the throne of
grace as children restored to a father's love. It was the Father
who first loved us, sparing not his own Son, but giving him as a sacrifice
for our sins. And so our reconciliation with our heavenly Father
was made possible. Jesus Christ died for our sins, rising for our
justification. "Christ hath died, and become the propitiation for
our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"
(I John 2.2). It is sin which separates us from God. Christ,
therefore, who removes sin, removes the separation and allows us to call
God our Father.
The joy of this Easter Season would be incomplete if our Saviour had
remained in the grave. Having died for our sins, he rose for our
justification. By this obedience he brought about the conditional
salvation of mankind. There is no way that we can justify ourselves
before God. We cannot show why we deserve to be pardoned of our sin.
We cannot on our own merits claim a place in God's eternal kingdom.
But through Jesus Christ we have hope of achieving all these things.
As one hymn-writer has pleaded, so we all plead:
By the justifying grace which comes through Jesus Christ, we can look forward
to a glorious future, a peace which "passeth all understanding", even the
joys of life in the eternal kingdom.
Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
And only look on us as found in him;
Look not on our misusing of thy grace,
Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
For lo! between our sins and their reward
We set the Passion of thy Son our Lord.
(The Book of Common Praise, Hymn 221)
And yet this salvation which comes through Jesus Christ must also be
for us a present reality. In the collect for today, again, we pray,
"Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may
always serve thee in pureness of living and truth". As Christ was
raised to life, so must our souls be raised right now to newness of life.
The Son of God-- who died for the sins of all, and rose again to justify
all -- died and rose again in vain for us as individuals, unless we meet
the conditions on which salvation is offered as a free gift to all, and
these conditions are, that we live lives of righteousness. Justified,
we must also be sanctified. "Be ye perfect," said Jesus, "Even as
your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48)
The lessons for the week to come (Cdn BCP, 1962) are from Deuteronomy,
and tell of the Children of Israel's time in the wilderness, and God's
repeated attempts to bring them into obedience, that is, to make them a
holy nation. We will also read lessons from Acts, which tell of the
foundation and first years of the Christian Church. Once again, what
was expected of the early Christians was obedient holiness. Let us
pray that, justified by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we may also be obedient
children of our heavenly Father, sanctified and made fit for the world