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Posts by: Stephen Gauthier

Cathedral as Home: Our New Diocesan Role

October 10, 2015

On Saturday, October 10th, Church of the Resurrection was approved by the diocese to become the diocese's permanent cathedral.

Because of Bishop Stewart's consecration as the first Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, we have functionally been the cathedral church for the past two years. However, Saturday's vote to make Resurrection the permanent seat of the diocese has long-term implications for members of Church of the Resurrection and members of the diocese's other churches both practically and, more important, spiritually.

Each Sunday when we recite the Nicene Creed, we proclaim our common faith in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church – a church united across the centuries and around the world. The bishop is the visible sign of that unity across time (through the laying on of hands, starting with the Apostles) and across space (through the right hand of fellowship extended to fellow bishops everywhere). Thus, Ignatius of Antioch († 98-117), an early martyr and one of the earliest Christian writers, famously wrote: Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrnaens, 8).

Each bishop also is a visible sign of the unity of the Church in a given place. Accordingly, the local bishop's home church or cathedral (derived from a Latin word for the "seat" from which a bishop symbolically exercises his authority to teach, govern, and build up the Church), gives tangible expression to the rootedness of the Church in that diocese.

Sometimes the "cathedral comes to the bishop"; that is, a newly elected bishop stays at his current church, which thereby becomes the cathedral. Such was the case for Church of the Resurrection when Bishop Stewart was elected first bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The traditional approach, however, is for the "bishop to go to the cathedral"; that is, to move to the cathedral when he is elected bishop (assuming he is not already resident there). It is the second approach that the Annual Diocesan Assembly has adopted for this diocese in the future. Thus, whenever Bishop Stewart retires from his office, the newly elected Bishop will become rector of the diocesan home, Church of the Resurrection, as well as bishop to the diocese.

A comparison to the annual Christmas gathering of a father, mother, and their adult children may be helpful in understanding why this difference can be important, both practically and spiritually. Our current model ("the cathedral comes to the bishop") might be compared to a family that gathers for Christmas each year at the home of one of the adult siblings. While the gathering is indeed a family celebration, and while the hosting sibling may be genuinely warm and welcoming, the location still would not truly be "home" for the other children. In contrast, our new model ("the bishop goes to the cathedral") is comparable to adult children gathering at their parent's house for Christmas. In this latter case, not only would the gathering be a family celebration, but all of the children would truly be "at home," whether they still lived for the time being with their parents, or had moved away to establish separate homes of their own.

Now that the proposal to establish Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, as the permanent cathedral of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest has been approved, members of the other churches of this diocese henceforth are able to boast two Church homes: their own parish church and the cathedral Church of the Resurrection.

Thus, when greeting visiting brothers and sisters from across the diocese, we members of Church of the Resurrection can now replace a simple "welcome" with a newfound and heartfelt "welcome home."

Why We Celebrate the Easter Vigil

March 16, 2015

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is at the very core of our faith as Christians. Thus, the Apostle Paul teaches, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, ESV). Likewise, Paul clearly states that "If Christ ha[d] not been raised, [our faith would be] futile" (1 Corinthians 15:17, ESV). For this reason, Christians from the very earliest days of the Church have gathered together on the first day of the week, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, to celebrate and proclaim the mystery of his death and resurrection.

It was from this same resurrection perspective that Jewish Christians, who continued to celebrate the Passover each year, came to understand the deeper meaning of that ancient feast, proclaiming, "Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). Over time, even Christians who did not come from a Jewish background began to celebrate the annual "Christian Passover" we now call Easter. While the Jewish Passover (the 14th day of the month of Nissan) can fall on any day of the week, Christians chose to celebrate this annual feast on a Sunday, thereby underscoring its connection with the weekly celebration of the Lord's resurrection.

The Apostle Paul also teaches that we personally share in Christ's resurrection by sharing in his saving death, stating in Romans 5:6, "If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." He goes on to explain that when we're baptized into Jesus' life, we're also baptized into his death (Romans 6:3, ESV). It is only natural, then, that the celebration of Easter is closely associated with the celebration of the sacrament of baptism.

Those to be baptized on Easter prayed and fasted to prepare themselves during a 40-day season we now call "Lent." The culmination of this period of intense preparation was a night watch or "Vigil" of scripture reading and prayer that immediately preceded baptism and the celebration of Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday.

This pattern is faithful to the example given to us by Jesus himself on the first Easter. Luke 24:13–24 tells us of two disciples of Jesus, traveling together to a village near Jerusalem called Emmaus. On their journey they were joined by an apparent stranger. They took this opportunity to share with their newfound companion the profound discouragement they felt at the death of their teacher just three days earlier, and their confusion at strange reports of an empty tomb and the appearance of angels. Their still-unknown companion, who was none other than the risen Lord Jesus himself, replied:

O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

When they reached the village, they urged their companion, whom they still did not recognize, to stay with them for the night. It was only then, as they shared a meal together, that they finally recognized the risen Lord:

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures? (ESV)

Easter Vigil is an invitation to experience for ourselves what those disciples experienced on the Road to Emmaus the evening of the very first Easter. Like them, we are led through a series of passages from the Old Testament, beginning with Moses (Genesis, Exodus) and continuing through the prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah), while our hearts burn within us as the veil is removed from our eyes (2 Corinthians 3:16) and we see revealed in each passage the saving work of the one who died for us and "on the third day rose again, according to the Scriptures" (Nicene Creed).

We're also invited to recognize the presence of the risen Lord Jesus himself among us, in the breaking of the bread of Holy Eucharist.

Jesus himself tells us he is "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13, ESV). The readings of the Easter Vigil remind us that the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) has been at work since the very beginning of Creation ("For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him" Colossians 1:16, ESV). God's promise to Israel ("You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," Exodus 19:6, ESV), has been gloriously fulfilled in us. We are now a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9, ESV). May the resources in this booklet help us to prepare ourselves to be faithful to that call.

Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen J. Gauthier
Assisting Priest at Church of the Resurrection
Canon Theologian for the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest

Stephen Gauthier
Canon Theologian
stephenjgauthier@gmail.com

For teachings, paintings, and discussion questions from the Easter Vigil service Scripture readings, click here for our God's Saving Deeds Bible Study.