Easter. The high point of the Christian calendar. The celebration of the Ressurection, the triumph of life over death. The philosophy of hope that brings the flock together, into the church. The sunrise.
It is a message that has been carried down through generations for about 2,000 years. Peters and Pauls, Martins and Calvins, Marys and Marthas, have replaced one another in time. And the word, the Gospel as it was named, had been shouted from pulpits and whispered near sick beds.
Easter 1978. How do the modern day disciples reach the followers? What will be said to area Christian worshippers that will help them renew their faith.
"The message is exactly the same today as it was 10 or 20 years ago, or, really, 2,000 years ago," said William Cardinal Baum, who will preach a nationally televised homily at the 11 a.m. mass Sunday at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
"Men and women have the same needs, they ask the same questions . . . We live at the end of a great era of civilization. We are losing confidence in technology and other things of the world that have been used to solve problems.
"It is important for contemporary people to know that God so loves us that He became one of us. He became weak, He endured suffering, He endure death . . . He humbled Himself obediently on the cross. To take this upon Himself, He conquered suffering and death, and lives even now . . . So, though we change in superficial ways we don't change really, because human nature remains the same."
The Rt. Rev. John T. Walker, Episcopal bishop of Washington and dean of the Washington Cathedral, where he will preach at 8 a.m. an11 a.m., said "New Life. New Creation. That's what Easter means.
"It's the gateway into the new being that St. Paul talks about in his epistles. How we understand the mandate to care for those who are suffering in the world, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the poor, the weak . . . "We do this through church agencies, community agencies and government agencies, all of us working to poses. It starts with loving each other.
"I'm not talking about the church fund, working miracles, I'm talking about all of us who call ourselves Christmas. It starts with U.S. We're got to use our love to get things done. That's the message of Easter. And it always starts there."
Bishop Henry W. Murph, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will tell the congregation of Allen AME Church in Southeast at 11 a.m., "There is no literature quite as beautiful as John writing in Revelation of life after death:
"'And I saw the Holy City. The New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride at dawn for her husband. . . .
"I'm not afraid of death," Bishop Murph said. "There is no 'wish-I-were-dead' statement. I love life. All who know me know that I get as much fun out of living as anybody in the world. I want to live. That is why I'm not afraid to die. . . . I'm anticipating the next phase of life just as eagerly as [TEXT OMMITED FROM SOURCE]
The United Methodist Church Bishop, James Mathews, is "still under the spell of hearing Mahler's Resurrection Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He had grasped in the form of symphony the meaning of Easter, which is . . . the face of death is an affirmation of life."
Bishop Smallwood Williams, of the Pentecostal Bible Way Church World-wide, 1100 New Jersey Ave. NW, feels the Easter message is particularly significant to his mainly low-income congregation.
"The Easter message to us is that we can make it," the bishop said. 'That there will be hope, especially the people in the ghetto who hope for better circumstances that we can make it . . . Just as there is a darkening in the Middle East situation, the Easter message says there is hope in the darkest hour and we can make it . . . Look on the corner of 7th and T, which is crowded with dope addicts. People are hopeless. But the Easter message brings us hope that we can rise above our misery and despair."
At the Central Union Mission, where area clergy preach to homeless men and alcoholics, its director, the Rev. Thomas B. Hanlon, will give the same message that has rung through its large hall for nearly 100 years.
"Christ died for their sins. Christ loves them. And Christ is their hope. When He went on the Cross, He said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' So, they've sinned in ignorance. But Christ died for their sins today in this world, just as much as He did for those in His time," Hanlon said.
Dr. Louis H. Evans, pastor of National Presbyterian Church, will tell his affluent congregatio:
"Christ's convenant with the Father should be a model for today's Christians as they form relationships. God demanded that Christ pay the cost of His covenant. And out of that convenant came the victory. He (Christ) looked ahead and saw what the results of the covenant would be. The cost of the Cross. It was no surprise to Him. I'm anticipating tomorrow's tasks and joys. . . I know that my Redeemer lives because He lives within me. Christ is alive forevermore."
"(People today) run out on relationships when they become inconvenient. This does inestimable damage. Only as we give ourselves in convenants will we know the spiritual and the social victories of life."