Today begins the holy weekend that culminates on Sunday. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, or Easter.
The Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Australia, said that Atheists are believers alright. Believers that hate God. Now that maybe a little harsh, but it is accurate. The Right Reverend Peter Jensen is spot on with this comment:
"Atheism is every bit of a religious commitment as Christianity itself.
"It represents the latest version of the human assault on God, born out of resentment that we do not in fact rule the world and that God calls on us to submit our lives to him.
"It is a form of idolatry in which we worship ourselves."
While this is clearly a hard-hitting sermon that Dr. Jensen delivered on Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was crucified by those that turned against him, it makes me think about the Anglican/Episcopal Good Friday liturgy.
Today we pray for a lot of things. But there is a part of the Solemn Collects (prayers) that always strikes me this time of year. Here is the following:
Let us pray for all who have not received the Gospel of Christ;
For those who have never heard the word of salvation
For those who have lost their faith
For those hardened by sin or indifference
For the contemptuous and the scornful
For those who are enemies of the cross of Christ and persecutors of his disciples
For those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others
That God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.
Today there are many, many people that have not heard the word of salvation or the Gospel of Christ. A lot of it I believe is this whole thought that we people can do it better ourselves. We do not need to believe in something and someone greater than ourselves. Yet all this thinking has not really made our lives better.
I also think about the many people I know that have lost their faith. My heart goes to them. I can only hope that they would come back to the fold.
The striking dichotomy is the last two lines. The ones about being persecuted and persecuting in the name of Christ. There is a lot of truth in that. We have been led astray by what we have done in the name of Jesus to many. We have not shared the Gospel as we have at times imposed the Gospel. I think that a lot of that is how we have come over the ages to understand Jesus and our relationship with him.
Here is the thing.
Faith is not science. It is believing in what is really impossible. It is not perfect. I have heard this many times. That one should have a child-like faith in God. Imagine that. A child-like faith instead of disgruntled disbelief.
Tonight at Good Friday services, I will pray for those that reject the Gospel. And those that have not heard the Gospel. And for those that will turn their lives to Jesus Christ. After all, that is the reason that he died for us today.