The Trumpeteer

Exultet

Resurrection in Cookham Church yard

The Church rejoices in the Easter Vigil with the great Hymn the Exultet. After the Paschal candle has been lit the great candle is carried in solemn procession to the sanctuary and the Deacon proclaims the glories of the risen and victorious Christ heralded in the Old Testament by the pillar of fire leading the people of Israel out of their bondage to Pharoah into freedom beyond the Red Sea - which has engulfed Pharoah's pursuing armies and sent him and his followers to their watery grave. Christ's Resurrection gives hope to us all. The malice of Satan and his devotees, which includes those who do not know and do not believe in him, but will know him all too terrifyingly for all eternity if they do not repent, are usually people of destruction.

Who are these people of destruction? They are those who are jealous such as Satan himself. Satan who was jealous of Adam and Eve, and who wished to destroy the human race and so get his own back on God. Satan obviously did not believe God was all loving, for if he had, he and the fallen angels would have not rebelled. Satan's revenge is just a greater version of the child who smashes up a toy to spite its parents. Husbands beat up wives because they fail to love. People harm themselves by turning their rage against themselves, and this is always the problem that human beings too often along with the Queen in Snow White, look into the mirror and say "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, tell me who is the fairest of them all". The spirit of envy is so terrible that it leads numberless men to war, and in the vast wars of the 20th century the rage of destruction has been fuelled by pride, envy and jealousy. The wish to dominate is so close to the spirit of destruction that the two invariably go hand and in hand. Again and again the destroyer looks into the mirror, terrifed that anyone else could be more favoured than he or she. Such pride and vainglory is the very antithesis of the love of the Triune God.

In the Trinity all is harmony, all is peace, all is joy, and charity. And so Christ who begins his victory procession with the harrowing of Hell continues it throughout history. This joyous cavalcade will only finish at the End of Time. In our depressing and dull world of Academic Theology where inspiration and reflection have been eradicated by a spirit of analysis, which more often than not is totally destructive of Revelation, the Bible is reduced to a book that is of great interest but of no real importance; certainly it has nothing of the burning radiance of the pillar of fire, or the majestic glory of the Resurrection. In a world where science has become the new religion and where morality is dictated by the desires of the people, which really means the wishes of the intellectuals whose world is either accademic or ideological, the gates or Hell seem to have opened and disgorged onto the human race the huge army of devils intent on the utter destruction of the human race. And so in the 20th century and into the 21st century there have been endless wars that have hardly, in the last sixty years, touched the Western World, but have wrecked countries and destroyed countless lives. The affluent Westerner, sophisticated and well read, who holds all the right views and has all the right opinions is as far removed from the Kingdom of God as one can be this side of the grave. However, precisely because so many of the powerful in the various establishments throughout the world are blinded by the spirit of destruction and envy, they will find themselves as powerful as Caiaphas and the leaders of the Jewish people to prevent Christ's Resurrection. Ultimately Divine Love will triumph over every adversity through the humility and degredation of the Cross. It was the Divine humility that won the day, and will always so do. The Nations and their leaders have always too often been among the cohorts of the army of Satan, and this is very true today, but whatever terrible things may come to us over the next several years, we can, if we be truly humble, be part of that joyous cavalcade of love which began with the Resurrection and which will go on until the end of time until the end of time.

Looking at the great masterpiece above, the Resurrection of Cookham Church yard, we see the finale of that great victory processin unfold before our eyes. Stanley Spencer, an eccentric artist if there was one, in a truly medieval way brings the eternal truths into our contemporary lives. Spencer must have been no longer young when he painted this picture, but there he is naked and redeemed with all the glory of his youth, which harks back to Eden. There he is along with all the great ones of the Old Testament, and those of the New. Homeliness and glory usually go together, but magnificence is often suffocated with pride. As new and more terrible weapons of destruction are marketed by cynical men, the lackeys of politicians all over the world (the latest being a bomb that sucks all the air out of people, but leaves buildings intact!), but these will have to bow the knee before the indestructible love of the Risen and Glorified Christ. They can either join with the repentant thief, and the sorrowing Peter, or they can give way to the despair of Judas, or the cold hatred of Caiaphas and his ilk. Who, however, would not wish to join in this wonderful and victorious procession, made up of the most curious band of people, who whatever their station in life, have decided to follow in the footsteps of the Poor Crucified Christ, and in doing so have been part of that glorious pageant of a never ending procession to the utter bliss of the Heavenly Kingdom, which will only end when the great doors of Heaven close, and Time is finally brought to its climactic end.

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