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Message from the Regionary Bishop

EASTER 2001

The Spring is upon us in the Ojai Valley at the Provincial Headquarters. The fruit trees are in full bloom, the orange blossoms offer their heady perfume on warm afternoon breezes, the irises and lilies are shouting their colorful praise to the new season of rebirth and renewal. Easter draws nigh and our hearts and minds turn to the perennial story. A story belonging to all times and all religions.

In fact, all religions exist to point to the Central Idea that there is at the core of All that is, a Certain Unity, a Oneness, a First Cause, a Source of All, a Will. And that man is linked to this Will.

Religion and philosophy point to the fact that as man develops from unconscious sentient being to self-conscious, evolving, intelligent entity he does so as the result of a process of discovery. All things as we discover them , whether they are laws of nature, facts of science, the beauties of art or philosophy, all tend to the one conclusion. All life is the expression of One Existence, the revelation of One Will.

And if religion presents us with this great fact, this revelation of the Divine Will, so too all true religion points to the inescapable conclusion that Man's duty, nay his destiny, is to align his will with the One Will. We are aided in this process of alignment by two great Truths revealed in the Ageless Wisdom Teachings.

The first of these Truths is that in reality God and Man are one in essence. For us Christians the Great demonstration of this Truth is the Incarnation. Christ became Man and dwelt among us. Emmanuel, God with us. We as His disciples are admonished not only to follow after Christ but, indeed, to allow Christ to be formed in us. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ   Eph 4:13 That Perfect Personhood is the True nature within the heart of everyone.

The Second great Truth which guides us to the melding of our will with the One Will is the strange and mysterious concept that somehow God dies in order that we might live. Yes this is a deep mystery not easy to comprehend. But you will find it universally taught in allegory, symbol and myth that all creation exists only because the Creator, Omnipotent, Eternal and Immortal chooses as a supreme act of Love to self limit in order that all manifest creation may come forth. And this great Act of Sacrifice is not just something that takes place once in some distant past but is in fact a perpetual sacrifice ongoing and dynamic. In the lovely words of our Liturgy "By that self same sacrifice Thou dost continually uphold all creation, resting not by night or day…"

The wonderful challenge held out to us as followers of our Blessed Lord and Master is that we too must take up our cross! That is to say in some way mystically participate and unite our wills in sacrifice to His Will and His Sacrifice. We then become united with Christ in His Life by living the Christ Life. United with Him in His Death by dying unto our smaller egotistical self, and then become united with Him in His resurrection and walking in newness of Life. To quote again from our Liturgy "that we may not only commemorate in symbol that Thine eternal Oblation, but verily take part in it and perpetuate thereby… the enduring Sacrifice by which the world is nourished and sustained".

May I wish you all a most blessed Easter season and greet you all with the traditional Easter Morning Greeting. Christ is Risen… He is risen Indeed! I close with the words of the famous American Minister and Preacher Phillip Brooks…

The great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death -- that is not the great thing -- but that we are to live here and now by the power of the resurrection; not so much that we are to live forever as that we are to, and may, live nobly now because we are to live forever.
• Phillip Brooks

The Right Reverend William S.H. Downey
Regionary Bishop for the USA


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