Time Past Time Present

My Dear Friends,

The symbols and activities of Holy Week and Easter are instruments to annihilate the gulfs which separate the past, the present and the future.

The palm cross, the bread in your hand, the wine in the throat, the candle flame, the water falling on the forehead, the blending of musical tones, the cross, the crucifix, the language of prayer and praise and sacrament which reaches for time and timelessness in its images and cadences. All these are the mysterious engines of grace by which a church, an altar and that long-ago table become one, a modern city becomes Jerusalem and Jerusalem a modern city. Time past and time present intersect and are fused.

The reason why it is essential for the Christian imagination to make this leap is that it brings the Christian mind and heart to an even greater mystery. We come to realize that the events by which God enters human history are not isolated in the past but are also contemporary realities. Bethlehem, Calvary, the garden tomb are not situated in an exterior geography or lost in a half-remembered past.

Consider very carefully. If Bethlehem is where God in humanity was born, if Calvary is where God in humanity died, if the garden tomb is where God in transformed humanity rises, then your vocation and mine, the quest to which our baptism calls us until the day we die, is to search for these mysteries in the patterns of human history, in the ongoing complexity of public affairs, and in our own day-by-day personal experience. When you fully realize this truth and give yourself intentionally to that quest, a simple but profound thing happens. In that moment you will exchange remembering for experience; a self in you will be born, a self in you will die, and a self will rise.

Your friend and Vicar,

Charles