Easter Sunday 2018. London, England.
I attended the standing-room-only festive Choral Eucharist at Westminster Abbey this morning. Tourists were everywhere, but enough of us were taking matters seriously that I knew I was in a holy place.
On the way to communion, I walked right over David Livingston’s grave!
And the Dean himself, The Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, administered my communion this morning.
At noon, with the service ended, I found the sidewalks around the Abbey and Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge to be jammed with tourists on a very chilly early Spring day. So half-way back to my flat, I jumped on a bus for the final blocks.
Luncheon was a Sunday pub meal of pork roast, crackling, Yorkshire puddings, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, parsnips, and applesauce. And a Fuller’s London Pride. I couldn’t finish it all!
Oh — and kale. I didn’t even try.
Now for Evensong at St. Mary’s Bourne Street, with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The music list includes Harwood in A-flat, one of my favorite settings of the Mag & Nunc.
This classic Paschal or Easter Sermon is from Saint John Chrysostom, fifth century early church father and one of the greatest preachers of all time. This homily for Holy Pascha exhorts all, even those who have not kept the Lenten fast, to rejoice and enter into the Easter feast of the resurrection.
Let all Pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; he repays the deed and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness.
Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and life is freed, Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.