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Dear parish family,

As we are now in the season of Easter, we are filled with the sounds of “Alleluia”, and the words, “Christ is risen!” This is, of course, as it should be because our Christian faith would mean nothing if Christ is not risen. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)

This brings me to an interesting point of our Christian hope that many people may not know even exists, even though we say it together at least once every week. It comes from the Nicene Creed, and I’ll skip right to the part that I would like to highlight:

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures…

My question to you is this: When Jesus died…where did He go? I ask this question because we say, in our very next sentence that He rose again…on the third day. So, what happened between the time that He died, and the time that he rose (on the third day)? Before you say something like “he went to heaven”, let me stop you right there. The answer to this is found in the Apostles’ Creed, which is an older form and is supposed to be simply understood in the Nicene Creed.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again…

In other words, not only did Jesus die, but he went to the place where all people go when they die. It wasn’t a fake death, it was a real death. Neither was it a death “for the sake of showmanship”. What we are saying in our creed is that Jesus descended to that place that the Hebrews call Sheol…the place of the dead. The Greek form of this is Hades (which is NOT the same thing – and should not be confused with – Hell, the lake of fire, or the place where “bad people” go).

What we say in our creed, every week, is that Jesus descended to the dead, and – from there – he rose; thereby setting all the captives free to their long awaited hope. In other words, while things were darkest, Christ was at work in the unseen realms. It is something that we see more clearly by participating in the whole of our Holy Week/Easter liturgies, and it can be helpful to remember this on the scale of our own life…when things are at the darkest and Christ seems to be absent…He is still at work. As a result, we should remember that hope – real hope, which is more akin to “trust”, does not disappoint because God is always true to His word.

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

In the Risen Christ,
Fr. Joe+


Permanent link to this article: http://www.saintalbans.org/2013/04/09/2518/

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