The Easter message of Bishop Paul V. Marshall to the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

If you look carefully at this picture of Grace, Allentown, Pennsylvania set up as an emergency shelter, especially at higher resolutions too big to reproduce here, there is something optically striking about the picture. Either deliberately or accidentally, the photographer (or his camera!) chose the sanctuary lamp as the focal point of the picture. The body of the lamp is the most sharply in-focus area of the picture and the tiny flame has a special intensity.


It is that very symbol of the sacramental presence of Christ that will be extinguished as we descend into Good Friday, and stand together at the Cross.

But Saturday night fires will blaze again and lamps such as this one will joyfully receive a new flame, signifying Christ’s presence with and in his church. It is in the presence of and in partnership with the Risen Jesus that the Church serves the world. This picture reminds us that the light at the altar does not signify that Jesus is imprisoned in the tabernacle. This picture reminds us that when we understand and rejoice in the resurrection blaze, the light reaches out through stone walls and dark stained glass, and touches the world through our words and deeds. Homeless, hungry, seeking truth, whoever they are, there is light for all.

But back to the photo. Jesus puts us in the picture with the simple words “follow me” and the promise “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” When we rely on that promise and and accept our share of the mission, we discover that the resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of debate–it is a matter of experience. Each of us learns that because he lives, we live–now and in eternity. This experienced learning is no small thing: the powers that Jesus defeated in an eternal moment on the Cross paradoxically remain our enemies and the creation groans for freedom and healing. Until everything comes to its fullness, our living in the light is what God chooses to work with.

Read the rest here.

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