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The Octave Day of Easter
Being the Sunday after Easter Day
By W. J. Hankey
from COMMON PRAYER, Volume Six:  Parochial Homilies for the Eucharist 
Based on the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer, 1962, Canada. (p. 72-74)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada.  Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

And I have put my words in your mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth,and say unto Zion, 'Thou art my people.'  
                                                                                          (Isaiah 51.16)

We are encompassed, surrounded by the goodness of God, the goodness which has overcome the world and assures us of victory.  On his cross, Christ conquered the power of sin.  Pinned down, burdened, tortured by everything the sin of man in the power of nature could do, Jesus triumphed.  He remained faithful to God in the most extreme distance from God.  In the depths of hell, he obediently finished the work the Father had given him to do.  Jesus showed and established decisively and finally, that God is with us and for us everywhere and always:
If I climb us into heaven, thou art there:
If I go down to hell thou art there also...
Even there also shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darness shall cover me, 
and the light about me become night'
Yet even the darkness is no darkness
with thee: the darkness is as clear as the day:
the darkness and light to thee are both alike.  
                                               (Psalm 139:8-12)
We look back to Good Friday.  We see there the day and power of evil.  The sacraments ceased.  The fountain of life cried "I thirst" from the cross.  The bread given for the life of the world died.  Darkness covered the earth.  Jesus summoned the powers of sin and death, darkness and evil, to come forth and they imprisoned him as they overwhelm and imprison us.  But when the soldiers thrust the spear into the side of Jesus, there flowed out water and blood.  Water lies at the root of all new life, by the water of baptism God begins to surround us by his goodness.  In the sacrament he washes and embraces us, declares his good will toward us.  He takes us as his own children and makes us partakers in the resurrection of his own dear Son.
Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world...and this is the witness, that God hath given to us eternal life and this life, is in his Son.  (1 John 5:4, 11) 
The rock from which we are hewn, the wounded side of Christ yields blood and also another sacrament.  The sacrament of the altar -- the bread of eternal life and the cup of everlasting salvation.  This food and drink are more than comfort to us along the way, they represent to us the end of our journey: the banquet and feast of the Lamb of God in the heavenly mansions of his Father, the final rejoicing to which baptism is our invitation.  We are surrounded by the goodness of God, as our beginning and our end, our alpha and omega.  The supper in which Jesus was known in the breaking of the bread belongs to the end of the journey, when Jesus and his companions had reached the village at evening.  The sacrament of the supper comes from the side of Christ to represent our end and goal.

But the way needs a sacrament of its very own, a sacrament which is neither the beginning before which there is only darkness, chaos, disorder and bitterness, nor the end goal after which there is no striving nor danger but only fulfillment and joy.  We remember the first in our baptism, we look forward to the last in the sacrament of the altar, but we need something for our endless stumblings, confusions, frustrations and falls, our straying, dirt and wounds along the way.  And there is a sacrament just for the way itself.  For there are three that agree in one: the water, the blood and the Spirit.  They always go together, but the Spirit is especially the power of forgiveness.

Then said the risen Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.  (John 20. 21-23) 
The Apostolic ministry reestablished by the risen Christ is in water, our new beginning: "Go ye into all the world baptising every creature in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19); it is in blood and the anticipated comfort of the Last Supper in the evening at our final destination.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus ask:
Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.  And Jesus went in to tarry with them.  And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread and blessed it, and broke and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened and they knew him (Luke 24:29-31). 
Moreover, the Apostolic ministry is in discipline and reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness of sins, the sacrament of continual renewal: of washing, comfort and peace on the way.

The death and resurrection of Jesus surround us with the goodness of God.  We have "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever," for he said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:8, 5)  He died for our sins and has risen for our justification, that is, to set us right with God, and to make us again fit properly into God's right order, his goodness.  We are again encompassed by the goodness of God in the power of the resurrection of his Son.  We are surrounded by the sacraments of God's healing power conveyed by the infinite life of Jesus.  They embrace us as God does: our beginning, our end, and our way.

This goodness is power to heal the sin of mankind.  If we are serious followers of Jesus, we find the way long, tiresome and frustrating.  The goal seems so distant.  We fall so easily; everything seems an obstacle: we are constantly frustrated by our own character and by our circumstances: our family, friends, enemies, work, physical ills and limitations.  It seems endless.  And we cannot help being angry.  There are rages--destructive furies we scarcely understand.  We are frustrated by everything and are angry.  Perhaps, above all, angry with ourselves.  But all this comes from the false imagination that we are alone and confronted by distance.  Jesus, in the power of his resurrection comes instantly into the room where we think ourselves alone and deserted.  He comes to give us his peace, to encourage us by the goodness of God which surrounds and encompasses us.  He comes to send us again on our way, strengthened by the knowledge that nothing, not even our own wickedness and weakness, can prevail against him:

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.  I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass.  And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth.  (Isaiah 51:11-13)