Monday, 30 March 2015

The Spiritual Meaning of Easter 1

This if from 1883- I think that since then, these views have become a little more prevalent - I suggest Alan Watts' Myth and Ritual in Christianity for a more recent corroboration. "Easter is to us the Festival of Resurrection, but not of the body. To us it symbolises not Resurrection of matter, but Resurrection from matter, the Resurrection of Spirit: and not this alone, but Resurrection of Spirit from material beliefs and surroundings: the emancipation of the soul from the earthly and material, even as the spirit rises from the dead body with which it has done for ever.

Christians keep festival in memory of the rescue of their Master, the Lord Jesus, from the grasp of death: and though they erroneously believe that the material body was revived, they do in ignorance celebrate the great spiritual truth that there is no death. The festival to us is one of joy over the partial recognition of a truth divinely seen by men: and of still greater rejoicing over the mighty work consummated on this day. It is not that death was vanquished, as you say, but that man began dimly to see a vision of eternal life.

You know that the three branches of the Church of Christ are agreed in celebrating certain festivals in memory of events in the life of Jesus. They who, outside the Church, have refused to keep fast and festival are not wise. They cut themselves off from a portion of the truth. But the Christian Church keeps in memory of its Head, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsuntide. Those are the landmarks in the Christ life, and each represents an event in His life with a hidden spiritual significance.

The Christmas Festival of the Birth of the Spirit on the plane of Incarnation typifies Love and Self-denial. The exalted spirit tabernacles in flesh, abnegates Self, animated by Love. It is to us the Festival of Self-denial.

The Epiphany, the Festival of the manifestation of this new light to the world, it is to us the Festival of Spiritual Enlightenment: the shining of the True Light that lighteth everyone that is born into the world: not the carrying of it to men, but the uplifting of the Light so that they who can see may come to it.

The Fast of Lent typifies to us the struggles of Truth with darkness. It is the Wrestling with the Adversaries. The recurring season shadows forth a constantly recurring struggle. It is the Fast of Conflict: of wrestling with evil: of the endeavour to overcome the world.

Good Friday typifies to us the consummation of the struggle, the end that awaits all such conflicts in your world--Death: but Death in Life. It is the Festival of Triumphant Self-sacrifice: the realisation and consummation of the Christ life. It is to us no Fast, but a Festival of Triumphant Love.

Easter, the Festival of the Resurrection, typifies to us the perfected life, the risen life, the glorified life. It is the Festival of Spirit, conquering and to conquer: of the risen life, enfranchised and set free.

Whitsuntide, which Christendom associates with the baptism of the Spirit, is to us a Festival of great import. It typifies the outpouring of a large measure of spiritual truth on those who have accepted the Christ life. It is the Festival which is the complement of Good Friday. As human ignorance slays the truth that it cannot receive: so, as a consequence, from the higher realm of spirit comes a blessing on those who have embraced what the world has crucified. It is the Festival of the outpoured Spirit, of increased grace, of richer truth.

Ascension, lastly, is the Festival of the completed life, of the return of the Spirit to its home, of the final sundering from matter. It is the end as Christmas was the beginning: not of life but of earth life: not the end of existence but of that span consecrated by love and self-denial to mankind. It is the Festival of the completed work.

These are the spiritual ideas which underlie the Festivals of your Church. It is not because she has not fully grasped their meaning that she has not done well to celebrate them. And as the spirit who has charge of us and of our work has broken down for you the wall of dogmatism and has shed light on the superstitions of the Church, so it is permitted to us to show you that beneath all lies enshrined the germ of truth: and when man's error is removed, God's truth is more plainly seen."

Spirit Teachings, Section 30, William Stainton Moses