Remembering Heaven and Thinking of the Atonement

Remembering Heaven and Thinking of the Atonement April 15, 2022

 

The official film poster for “Remembering Heaven”

 

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wrote the Interpreter Foundation’s Easter message for this year.  It appeared earlier today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:

 

“Our Faithful Lord: Passover to Easter”

Abstract: Studying the origins and traditions of Passover enriches our understanding of Easter. We can deepen our own worship and expand our ritual memory by an acquaintance with these traditions. Latter-day Saints possess unique understandings that further illuminate the constancy and plenitude of the Lord’s covenantal relationship with us.

 

Our dear longtime friend George L. Mitton — a supporter of and sometime contributor to Interpreter who is now, I believe, in his ninety-fifth year — wrote this piece, which appeared just a few days ago in Meridian Magazine:

 

“The Crucifixion as a Mockery of the Judgment”

 

And here’s something related to Easter that I myself recently wrote for Meridian:

 

“An Ancient Witness of the Savior We Don’t Often Hear About”

 

You might perhaps find these two articles appropriately thought-provoking as we move into Easter weekend:

 

“The Hope Resurrection Provides Here and Now: Talk of resurrection usually hearkens to a day far off into the future when all will be made right—with little reference to the fears and despairs crowding us right now.”

 

“As Ramadan, Passover and Easter converge, an interfaith trolley rolls out: The rare alignment of major Christian, Muslim and Jewish holidays is fueling a flurry of interfaith celebrations across the nation this month”

 

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In my immediately previous blog post, I mentioned the approaching premiere of the documentary film Remembering Heaven.  You can watch the trailer for the film in several places, including here:

 

Remembering Heaven

 

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For very nearly twenty centuries, two thousand years, Christians have rested their hopes on the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And sometimes it doesn’t hurt to consider what some of them had to say on the subject.  For example, St. John Chrysostom (ca. AD 349-407), archbishop of Constantinople, delivered this Easter sermon around AD 400:

 

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;

for forgiveness has risen 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 destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

 

This is a standard translation of the sermon, widely available online.  The original Greek text is available at https://www.earlychurchtexts.com/main/johnchrysostom/paschal_sermon.shtml.

 

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By willingly choosing to undergo inconceivable pain and suffering, Jesus offered himself as a vicarious sacrifice for me and for everyone that I know and love and for everyone that I ever will know and love.  Today — a day that bears the ironic traditional name of “Good Friday” — is a day when believing Christians around the world think of that atoning sacrifice.  It is appropriate to do so.  And Good Friday also seemed an appropriate day — to my wife and me, and to a neighbor who came along with us — for us to attend the temple.  In offering vicarious temple service on behalf of others who (being dead) cannot repay us, we ourselves join in cooperation (albeit in only a small way) with the Savior’s atonement.  A very good Friday, indeed.

 

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I close by sharing an item from the obviously inexhaustible Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©:

 

“Church donates more than 2.5 tons of food in Hong Kong during pandemic wave”

 

 

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