Tuesday, April 30, 2002


Someone sent me this comment and question:

"I have enjoyed reading your articles over the past few days, re. life after death, purgatory etc. Am I correct in thinking that Catholics believe that the unbaptized soul remains in Limbo, which is a place of oblivion and that no manner or amount of indulgences will have any effect as to the destination of the unbaptized soul - that they will remain in a state of oblivion for an eternity?"


Doctrines concerning LIMBO (= ablative form of limbus, border; thus border of Hades) do not belong to Catholic dogma but to theological opinion and this means that the faithful are not required to believe them but may do so if they so choose.

The full beatitude of heaven is to see the glory and beauty of the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost --- the beatific vision. This is reserved in Catholic teaching to the baptized faithful who are forgiven and sanctified by grace.

Limbo is not oblivion but neither is it the beatific vision. It is an everlasting but imperfect state of existence.

It is the abode of souls excluded from the full blessedness of the beatific vision but not suffering any other punishment. They enjoy the happiness that would have been human destiny had human beings not been elevated in Christ Jesus to a supernatural destiny.

One form of Limbo (Limbus patrum) is no more. It existed from the creation of man until the Exaltation of Jesus Christ and was made up of the true believers in the LORD GOD of pre-Christian times - Jewish saints. They waited for the creation of heaven for believers by the ascended Lord Jesus Christ and then embraced by Him left their Limbo to enter his abode.

The other form of Limbo (Limbus infantium) has been the more controversial theological opinion. Here it is said are those - infants -- who have died in original sin ( because unbaptized) but with no personal guilt.

Since it is an article of the Roman Catholic Faith that no one can enter heaven without being baptized (or having baptism supplied by an alternative means - e.g., martyrdom, the baptism in blood) for baptism is the sacrament of then new birth, Catholic theologians have had to deal with the special case of infants who have not committed personal sins but who have not been baptized before their untimely death. The majority of theologians and Popes have taught that these infants know and love God intensely by the use of their natural powers and thus they enjoy full natural happiness - but do not enjoy the higher blessedness of the beatific vision.

I can find no discussion of Limbo in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and it is given very little if any space in modern theological dictionaries. I suspect that little is said about it in the modern Catholic Church and that Catholic people are taught to trust in the mercy of God and believe that he will take care of unbaptized infants who die, and especially if those infants are the children of Christian believers. Nowadays, especially in the West and North, very few infants die and even fewer die unbaptized. It is more of an urgent question in the catholic countries of the third world.

For myself I believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is large enough to cover the original sin of infants and that they will be raised to heaven where they will be also given in their resurrection body the maturity of what they would have been as a 30 year old (even as is Christ in his humanity).

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America


Hades, the Intermediate State and Purgatory

The early Church inherited from Judaism the belief that the souls of the departed are alive and either in bliss or in pain, as they wait for the general Resurrection of the dead. There is Hades wherein is both Pain and Paradise (Abraham's bosom).This doctrine of life after death was developed in relation to Christ as its center so that Christians spoke of "the dead in Christ" when referring to believers who had died.

They were taught and possessed a profound sense of the unity of the Church be She militant on earth, expectant in the intermediate state, or triumphant in heaven. There was One Body, One Head and many members under the Head and in the Body. There was the "communion of saints."

Further, as the years went by, they expressed the belief that some of the Christian dead (called "martyrs" and "saints") were in a special relation of proximity to the Lord Jesus Christ and thus their prayers could be requested - "Pray for us." At the same time, the Church (militant here on earth) believed (as the early Liturgies make clear) that it was perfectly natural to pray for the generality of the Christian dead (Church expectant) that they would "rest in peace" until the Day of Resurrection.

In the Western Church, but not in the Eastern, the doctrine of the intermediate state gradually became for most practical purposes the doctrine of purgation or purgatory. It was the sphere wherein the generality of the Christian dead (those who had died forgiven but not inwardly cleansed) were able in God's provision and mercy, by expiation and satisfaction, to be fully cleansed and perfected in their love for God and devotion to Christ Jesus. And to assist the Christian dead who belonged to the Church Expectant there developed in the Church Militant on earth the practice not only of the offering of prayers and the sacrifice of the Mass but also works of piety for their brethren in Christ in order to alleviate the pain of the expiation of their sins.

Yet, only in the late Middle Ages was the doctrine of purgatory defined by Church Councils - Lyon (1274) and more precisely Florence (1439). Here is the statement from the Council of Florence:

On the eternal fate of the dead
"And, if they are truly penitent and die in God's love before having satisfied by worthy fruits of penance for their sins of commission and omission, their souls are cleansed after death by purgatorial penalties. In order that they should be relieved from such penalties, the acts of intercession (suffragia) of the living faithful benefit them, namely the sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, alms and other works of piety, which the faithful are wont to do for the other faithful according to the Church's practice.

The souls of those who, after having received baptism, have incurred no stain of sin whatever, and those souls who, after having contracted the stain of sin, have been cleansed, while in their bodies or after having been divested of them (as stated above), are received immediately (mox) into heaven, and see God Himself, One and Three, as He is, though some more perfectly than others, according to the diversity of merits.

As for those who die in actual mortal sin or with original sin only, they go down immediately (mox) to hell (in infernum) to be punished, however, with different punishments."

In Western Catholic theology, the remission of sins related first to the forgiveness of the guilt of sin. After the giving of pardon, there remained the need for expiation and satisfaction to be made through appropriate penance. So, when a baptized Christian died without having fully completed his penance for his sins, then the satisfaction he owed and the cleansing of the stain of sin from his soul had yet to be completed. Thus purging occurred in the intermediate state before he could by grace be led on to experience the beatific vision of the glory of God the Father in face of Jesus Christ the Lord.

The Rejection of Purgatory

It is fair to state that one of the most widely held views in late medieval Europe was that there is a Purgatory where the vast majority of [previously nominal] Christians are, and that a major task of the Church is to do all She can, by every possible means, to relieve their pain and to assist them on their movement towards the beatific vision. Thus praying and working for the dead in Christ was a major occupation! And it was open to all kinds of excesses and abuses.

In the sixteenth century, we are not surprised that the Protestant Reformers decided, upon the basis of their biblical studies, that the whole doctrine of Purgatory and all the practices associated with it had to be dismantled and set aside. And this amounted not only to a religious but also a social and economic revolution! Further, out with the bath water went the baby, so that no trace of any kind of prayer to the saints or for the dead in Christ was allowed in Protestant Churches.

At the reforming Council of Trent, what was left of the western Catholic Church (we may call it, the Roman Catholic Church), declared its commitment in 1563 in the "Decree on Purgatory" to the doctrine of Purgatory but urged that abuses and excesses be removed from teaching and practice.

Here is what the Church of England stated in 1562 in her Articles of Religion:

XXII Of Purgatory

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well as Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

This is a wide sweep and condemnation taking in not only the doctrine and practices associated with Purgatory but also those connected with icons and images. It was written before the Council of Trent assembled.

For the practical effects of the rejection of Purgatory by the reformed Church of England in the 16th century, one can study the service for the Burial of the Dead in The Book of Common Prayer (1552 -1662) wherein all prayers for the brother/sister departed were removed and only prayers for mourners were allowed. No service of Holy Communion was suggested for fear that it be represented as a Mass for the dead. The radical changes in burial practice and service were done because it was believed that the departed soul had gone to its eternal destiny and that no efforts on earth could change that fact. For the Protestant, the Church Militant prays with the Church Expectant to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Lord, but the Church Militant here on earth does not pray for the Church Expectant or call upon any of the Christian dead to pray for their brethren who still abide in flesh and blood.

In modern times, there have entered some Anglican Liturgies brief and general prayers for the dead and are so low-key that they pass unnoticed; but, a rounded belief in the doctrine of purgatory and the offering of the Mass for the dead in Christ has only been done by Anglo-Catholics.

At the Second Vatican Council there was a major attempt to set the doctrine of purgatory in a dynamic eschatological context ( see Lumen Gentium, 1964, 2311-4). Yet, since the 1960s the existence of purgatory has been denied by some Catholic theologians because they reject (on account of their anthropology and views of space-time) the whole doctrine of the intermediate state. Yet in pastoral practice the reality of belief in purgatory is seen in the continuance in the Roman Catholic Church of prayers and masses for the dead even in the secularised West/North.

In conclusion.

To all of us and especially to any who are confused about life after death, there is the word of St Paul. "Who [or what] can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord? Nothing!". We can hold on to Christ, who is the LOVE of God.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Monday, April 29, 2002

The Bible and the Intermediate State

For the New Testament the decisive moment in a person's life is the acceptance of Jesus the Christ, Incarnate Son of the Father, as Saviour & Lord. This is the obedience of faith and includes repenting of sin, trusting in Jesus, and being baptized in water, symbolically into his death, burial and resurrection. Through this act (of man and of God) the baptized believer enters the kingdom of God and becomes a citizen of heaven. Thus when he or she dies it is a dying into Christ Jesus, who has gone before to prepare the way. Or when the Lord Jesus comes again in glory it is a rising to meet him in the air and greet him as the Lord of lords and only Saviour.

The primary interest of the New Testament is not in what happens after death but in the Last Things, the ending of this age with the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment. We can tell this from the last part of both the Apostles' and the Nicene Creeds, which summarize major biblical themes. "I/we look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the Age to come." Since the great emphasis in the New Testament is upon the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to raise the dead and then to judge both the living and those raised from the dead, little is said about the intermediate state or the interim period -- from the moment of the death of individual persons to the moment of the Parousia, the Revelation of the Son of God in glory upon the earth, when the dead shall be raised.

What is clear in the Bible is that the believer will never be removed from his relation to Jesus Christ. "I am with you always even unto the end of the age/world," said Jesus. And his apostle, Paul, wrote, "Nothing can/shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Though the vast majority of texts concerning the future within the New Testament refer to the Second Coming, the Last Judgment, and Heaven and Hell, there are a few which seem to refer directly to the state of the dead in Christ in this interim and intermediate state or period.

1. Luke 23:42-43, the conversation at Calvary between the penitent thief and Jesus, as they are both being crucified. The thief asked to be remembered when Jesus comes into his kingdom, and Jesus replies, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Here "Paradise" is a way of speaking about heaven (cf. Revelation 2:7) and Jesus is promising this penitent believer that he, without his crucified body, will be with Jesus in God's heaven.

2. Philippians 1:21-23, the apostle Paul's statement of faith and hope. "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." Paul calls death "gain" because by it there is achieved a closer, deeper relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. To die into Christ is to enter a life that is "far better." And yet it is a life in Christ that is yet to be completed for the resurrection of the dead is yet to be.

3. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, Paul speaks in the first person plural of his confident hope. "So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are home or away we make it our aim to please him." To be "away from the body" is to be "at home with the Lord" in the intermediate state waiting for the fullness of redemption at the general resurrection of the dead.

4. Luke 16:19-31, the parable told by Jesus of the Rich Man and Lazarus, where the word "Hades" is used not merely as a designation of the realm of the dead but as a place/sphere of punishment and torment, and the phrase "Abraham's bosom" is used of a place or sphere of blessedness; and both of these places/spheres refer to the intermediate state. This division in the realm of departed souls into the righteous and unrighteous, the accepted and the condemned, is found in Jewish teaching and was taken over by Jesus and his Church. (Note: The clearest statement in the New Testament about the state of those who have died in their sins and await the Last Judgement in the intermediate state is found in 2 Peter 2:9: "The Lord knows how to rescue the ungodly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.")

There is one Christian Hope and that has two parts to it for those who die before the Parousia of the Lord Jesus. There is the interim blessed existence of being dead in Christ (which is to be alive in Him) and then there is the existence of being raised with Him and having a body like unto his glorious body within the communion of the saints and angels in the service of the Holy Trinity and with the beatific vision.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Sunday, April 28, 2002


Do I go to be with the Lord or not?

There used to be a general consensus amongst Catholics and Protestants that while the human being is one person, a unity of being, he is nevertheless one person with a body and a soul. So both groups spoke of saving souls. And they spoke of the soul (the inner self) departing from the body at death and being separated from the body until the general resurrection of the dead when the soul (the perfected inner self) would be reunited with its immortalized, supernaturalized and glorified body (a body like unto that of the Resurrected Lord Jesus) to be again one redeemed person amongst the saints and angels of heaven.

Both Protestants and Catholics thus referred to "the intermediate state" between physical death and the resurrection and they thought of it as a period for baptized Christians of either resting peacefully in the presence of the Lord, or passing through a time of purgation before the Lord to bring them to perfect sanctification, in anticipation of the fullness of redemption at the Second Coming of Christ and the general Resurrection of the dead.

This consensus has been lost in recent times because of the Monism-Dualism debate and the emphasis from both biblical theologians and philosophers [monists] upon the unity of the human person and the denial that man can be described as truly having both a soul and a body. This ancient [dualistic] view, developed by the early Fathers of the Church, is said to be too dependent upon the Greek view of the immortality of the soul. And the soul is said to be either as aspect of the body or essentially correlated with the body and thus not a separable and potentially independent substance.

The loss of the soul as a basic component of the human person has meant the setting forth of basically two alternatives to the traditional doctrine of the intermediate state.

That at death the human being ceases to be and has no existence until he is raised from the dead at the Second Coming of Christ. That at death, the baptized human being is provided immediately with his resurrection body of glory (even though the old material body is still on the earth) and thus effectively the Last Judgment occurs for each of us at death.

It will be noted that in both of these positions the Christian hope of life in a new body in a new heaven and earth within the new creation, in the presence of the Lord, the saints and angels is preserved.

Yet No 2 does not do justice to the great emphasis in the Bible on the Last Judgment as a future, universal event involving all persons without exception. And No.1 does not do justice to the conviction, seen in the New Testament, that even when the physical body dies the believer is not separated from his Lord - "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise."

Further, neither of these alternatives does justice to the fact that while the early Fathers, medieval scholastics (e.g. St Thomas Aquinas) and Protestant Reformers used the word "soul" they filled it with meaning taken from the Jewish and Christian inheritance of teaching about the human person, death and life after death. So they were not reproducing Greek views of the immortality of the soul but creating a new Christian doctrine and synthesis.

Of course, Catholics seem to have the most to lose and the most to change if the doctrine of the intermediate state is dropped. With the loss of the doctrine of purgatory their offering of prayers, spiritual gifts and the sacrifice of the Mass for the dead in Christ are redundant and so also are many ceremonies (e.g., the lighting of candles for the deceased) and some feast days. However, Protestants who adopt No 1 above because of their great emphasis upon the unity of the human person, cannot (as have evangelists in their preaching and funeral services in their contents over the years) promise with conviction that being born again means that at death we go to be with the Lord!

Finally, I would say the classic Book of Common Prayer is, within the terms of the present debate, committed to Dualism, for it assumes that at death the believer is consciously and meaningfully with the Lord in anticipation of the resurrection of the dead at the Last Day.

For those who wish to be fortified in the traditional Christian doctrine of the soul and of the intermediate state I commend --- John W. Cooper, Body, Soul and Life, Eerdmans; Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology, Catholic Univ Press of America; & A. A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, Eerdmans.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Friday, April 26, 2002

Copy of Letter from Peter Toon published in Church Times

(copy of Letter from Peter Toon published in Church Times today 26th. This development in the use of Canon Law is very important...read on)


I appreciated your coverage of The Primates Meeting and the colourful photo of the Primates on page 3 of the issue of 19th April.

May I suggest that probably the most important work that the Primates did was on Canon Law.

At present, the Canon Law of virtually all the Provinces is of such a nature as to strengthen the autonomy of each province. It contains no provisions requiring and governing the relations with the See of Canterbury or with other Provinces. These relations are left to other means than Constitutions & Canon Law ( see further Norman Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, OUP).

Beginning at Kanuga, USA, last year and continuing at Canterbury this year the Primates are involved in a process that if pursued to the end will have far reaching effects upon the relations of Provinces within the Communion. It will lead to the situation where Provinces will not only be united by a common history, doctrine, worship and customs (as now) but also by canons and constitutional clauses that state their (binding) relation in fundamental matters to the See of Canterbury and to each other.

The end result will of course restrict their autonomy and their ability to innovate in worship, doctrine and morality, and will make it practical for there to be involvement by the whole body (e.g., via the Primates' Meeting) within an individual province that urgently needs help or discipline.

Thus Canon Law will fully emerge as the fifth instrument of unity of the Communion (along with the See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting).

In the Official Report of the Primates Meeting, in paragraphs 5& 6 this development is noted and the claim to be recognizing or creating a new instrument of unity is made. I quote: " The Primates recognized that the unwritten law common to the Churches of the Communion and expressed as shared principles of canon law may be understood to constitute a fifth “instrument of unity” along with the four" (noted above). It appears that there is much in common amongst the Provinces in terms of the content of Canon Law, but there are few if any canons stating the nature of the existing ecclesial relations within the Communion.

I suggest that this process/development deserves the best efforts of all concerned so that under God's providence it serves the Anglican Communion well in her vocation as a jurisdiction of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God in the world. It is a task that if not done very well will, I fear, do much more harm than good!


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon, The Rectory, Biddulph Moor, ST8 &HP

Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

The BCP on Making a Will & Dying unto the Lord

The Book of Common Prayer , in subservience to the authority of Holy Scripture, provides teaching and services for the whole of the Church Year and for the major moments and aspects of our lives as pilgrims and sojourners on earth. So it is not surprising that it has services for the visitation of the sick and dying, for giving Communion to the sick and dying, and for Christian Burial.

The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

The most widely used edition of the Prayer Book is the English edition of 1662. This was used in America until the 1780s and it has been translated into over 150 languages.

Within the rubrics [= directions to the Minister] of its service entitled, "The Order for the Visitation of the Sick," we find this paragraph, immediately following the Exhortation and the Creed:

"Then shall the Minister examine whether he [the sick person] repent him truly of his sins, and be in charity with all the world; exhorting him to forgive, from the bottom of his heart, all persons that have offended him; and if he hath offended any other, to ask them forgiveness; and where he hath done injury or wrong to any man, that he make amends to the uttermost of his power. And if he hath not before disposed of his goods, let him then be admonished to make his Will, and to declare his Debts, what he oweth, and what is owing to him; for the better charging of his conscience and the quietness of his Executors."

And then there are added these two sentences:

"But men should often be put in remembrance to take order for the settling of their temporal estates, whilst they are in health." "The Minister should not omit earnestly to move such sick persons as are of ability to be liberal to the poor."

Here the Minister (Rector, Vicar, Curate) is not being asked to become the lawyer to draw up a will. What he is being asked to do is to make sure that right up to the end of his mortal life, the baptized believer fulfils his duty to love God and his neighbour and to provide for his family and for the needy.

Surely this word is as much required today in Christian congregations and in the visitation of the sick and dying as it was in the seventeenth century.

When someone dies without preparing to meet the Lord, then they die foolishly for their eternal salvation is in the balance. And when someone dies without making a will, they die selfishly, leaving burdens for others to carry and problems for others to solve.

It is of course the reality that many organizations, societies, schools, hospitals, churches and libraries would not exist, or would exist only minimally, without the provision of help through the disbursements of the last wills and testaments of well disposed people. The work of the kingdom in the providence of God is partly dependent upon the provisions of the last wills and testaments of the baptized.

The Book of Common Prayer (PECUSA, 1928)

For the last American edition of the BCP the Office of "The Order for the Visitation of the Sick" was extensively revised and this is rather different to the service in the BCP of 1662.

The rubrics read as follows:

"As occasion demands, the Minister shall address the sick person on the meaning and use of the time of sickness, and the opportunity it affords for spiritual profit. Here may the Minister enquire of the sick person as to his acceptance of the Christian Faith, and as to whether he repent him truly of his sins, and be in charity with all the world; exhorting him to forgive, from the bottom of his heart, all persons that have offended him; and if he hath offended any other, to ask them forgiveness; and where he had done injury or wrong to any man, that he make amends to the uttermost of his power."

There is no specific reference to the making of a will; but, the first rubric gives plenty of scope for the Minister to speak to the sick person on this important matter.

In the latest Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church, USA, that of 1979 (which is erroneously called "The Book of Common Prayer" when it is a Book of Varied Services), there is no rubrical provision concerning repentance or making a will. The Minister is not given any advice or guidance at all, except in terms of the performance of the service.


The rubrics of the BCP of 1662 merit our consideration and, applied within the very different pastoral situation of how and where people die today, they will bring true increase in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America


Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Sleeping in & with Christ, Purgation and Life after Death in Glory.

Some thoughts on the act of dying

Evangelical preaching of salvation through and in Jesus Christ makes clear that after death we go to one of two places/spheres - heaven or hell. And the decision for this eternity is made here and now. If we turn away from the world, the flesh and the devil and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord in this life, then by the grace of God we go to heaven when we die (or after the Last Judgment); but, if we remain in the service of the world, the flesh and the devil in this life, then we go to hell when we die (or after the Last Judgment).

Many "born again" people, who are influenced by such preaching, seem to think that Roman Catholics and high Anglicans, who teach that the baptized go to purgatory after death, actually believe that Catholic teaching does not insist that the final decision as to eternity is made in this life but actually allows for there to be a second chance after death to make the decision to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us be clear. The doctrine of purgatory or purgation teaches that at death the Christian soul, because it is not yet fully sanctified, needs to go through a period and process of cleansing and renewal and that, at the end of this, there is only one exit and that is into heaven to be with the Lord Jesus Christ for ever. No one in purgatory goes to hell, even if his progress toward heaven because of his resistance to being purged is slow and delayed.

In fact, it has been said that to be in purgatory is to be with Christ, but to be with Christ as the One who cleanses the soul from the stain, pollution and disease of sin. This is a painful process for all but especially for those who do not wholly and fully cooperate with Him; but it is to be with Him all the same even in great anguish.

Thus traditional R C preaching of the Gospel does make it very clear that we are in this life to hear and receive the Gospel, to repent of sins and to believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus, to be baptized and to enter His Church. If we do not receive the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and choose other gods then we shall be condemned at death and in the Last Judgment by the pure justice of God to hell.

So the difference between the conservative, evangelical Protestant and the traditional Roman Catholic or high Anglican is not concerning the eternal destiny of those who accept or reject the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour. It is whether or not at death the soul of the believer has to/needs to go through purgation and cleansing before it is ready to receive the resurrection body of glory and to be with the Lord forever.

Evangelical Protestants hold that by the wonderful, omnipotent grace of God, the souls of believers, imperfect and sinful as they are, are marvellously and gloriously made holy and full sanctified in the act of death so that the soul, which goes to be with Christ in glory, is wholly perfected and truly sanctified, and is thus ready to be with the Lord of glory in the kingdom of heaven waiting for the resurrection of the dead. That is, total sanctification which has not happened in years of Christian living, is achieved in a flash in the act of dying.

In contrast, Catholics, truly aware of the depth of inbred sin and of the imperfections of the Christian soul, believe that before the soul (the baptized person) will be ready to be with the Lord forever and also to receive his resurrection body of glory, it/he must be purged, cleansed and purified of inbred, innate & original sin. Only after this process is completed is he ready to be with the Lord for ever. (Of course there are the few saints who by the grace of God go directly at death, often through martyrdom, to be with the Lord.)

It is regrettable that Catholics over developed this doctrine of purification and purgatory and, especially in the late Middle Ages, gave the impression that the works and prayers and masses of people on earth can speed up the progress of the soul through purgatory. The massive reaction in the Protestant Reformation to the whole idea of purgatory was very much energized by the existence everywhere of excesses and practical applications of the doctrine that were so obviously contrary to the plain sense of Scriptural teaching and of sound reason. Had the Protestant Reformers encountered the doctrine of purgation as known say in the year 500 rather than as it existed in 1500 then their reaction would probably have been very different indeed! And the history of the Church would have been different.

One can hardly over-estimate the importance of the doctrine of purgatory and the cultus and practices associated with it in the late Middle Ages, for the way that Protestantism developed.

But let us turn to the present day.

What I fear is that too many modern-day Evangelicals have been encouraged by the nature of their doctrine of the immediate placement of the soul of the believer with Christ at death to discount the enormity and the depth of sin in the soul of the believer when he/she dies. The older Protestant teaching placed great emphasis upon the reality of indwelling sin in the soul and the need for mortification of sin and holiness of life. In preparation for death one cast oneself upon the great mercy of the Lord looking for total deliverance by grace and by grace alone. In contrast, the newer Protestant teaching seems to make it all very straightforward and simple - just believe on Jesus and all will be fine and do not worry much about the state of your soul, Jesus will take care of that! The route to heaven is all too easy now, it seems.

And, I must add, many Catholics have also minimized the nature and reality of the pollution of sin in the soul of the baptized believer and thereby say little if anything of the need for purgation after death before entering the presence of the Lord of glory. They too seem to speak of an easy path to be with the Lord of righteousness and grace.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

Tuesday, April 23, 2002


The Church of God is still in Eastertide moving towards the Celebration of the Ascension of our Lord, the event that concludes his Resurrection appearances to his disciples, and prepares us to wait expectantly for the Event of Whitsunday/Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Ghost.

The COLLECT contains themes which are of great importance to the baptized believers who have been raised from sin to newness of life in Christ Jesus, the Lord. There are two important contrasts. First, between our "unruly wills and affections" (that by God's help we need to control and redirect) and "love and desire" (for what God commands and promises to his children).

Our hearts that are naturally sinful need by grace to be renewed and redirected toward what God requires and promises! Secondly, between "sundry and manifold changes" of this world and the "true joys" of the kingdom of God. Our hearts need to focus on things above where Christ is, not on this world.

The EPISTLE is from James 1:17-21 and begins by celebrating the adoption of believers into the family of God, the Father of lights, by the regenerating power of His word. Then it moves quickly into a description of the kind of life the true believer, born from above by Word and Spirit, will seek to live. An emphasis here falls upon the emotion of anger (wrath) which only the God of all grace and glory can exercise righteously. Very rarely does human anger serve the cause of God's plan and righteousness. We need to allow the Word and Spirit of the Lord to form our hearts so that they do not produce unrighteous wrath.

The GOSPEL is from JOHN 16:5-15 and is part of the teaching that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to his disciples in the Upper Room just before his arrest and trial in Holy Week. Here the Saviour looks forward beyond the Cross and grave to his exaltation to heaven and his sending, with the Father, from there the gift of the Paracletos, the Comforter, the Counsellor, the Advocate, the Holy Ghost, who will be in the church and world as the Spirit of the exalted Christ. When he comes (Whitsunday/Pentecost) he will continue the work of the Lord Jesus Christ both in the world and in the Church. In the world he will make effective the preaching of the Gospel and thereby reprove sinners who hear it; and in the Church he will guide the disciples into all truth, make effective communion with God, and glorify the Lord Jesus and the Father. We need to receive this Gospel as part of our preparation to celebrate aright both the Ascension of our Lord and the Descent of his Spirit.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Easter III, 2002.

Friday, April 19, 2002


According to the Church Times (April 19th) of London, the Anglican Communion woke up on the 17th to find it had a new statement of faith -- that produced by the Primates in their Meeting at Canterbury. It asks its readers to say what they think about it via their website www.churchtimes.co.uk.

Join the discussion! My own view is that it needs to sit alongside the Ecumenical Creeds for it to be given an orthodox interpretation.

Further, I cannot see that it has any authority at all for anyone anywhere, except a moral authority for those who decide to accept it.

I did circulate it but here it is again:

Statement of Anglican Primates on the Doctrine of God
Report of the Meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion: Appendix II

In the light of current challenges to historic Christian doctrine from various quarters, and of the growing influence of different kinds of "post-modern" theory which question the very idea of universal and abiding truth, the Primates wish to reaffirm the commitment of the Anglican Communion to the truths of the fundamental teachings of the faith we have received from Holy Scripture and the Catholic Creeds.

1. Our God is a living GodWe believe that God is real and active, creating and sustaining the universe by power and freedom, and communicating with us out of unlimited holy love so that we may share his joy. God is infinitely more than a thought in our minds or a set of values for human beings.

2. Our God is an incarnate God
We believe that God the eternal Son became human for our sake and that in the flesh and blood of Jesus of Nazareth God was uniquely present and active. All claims to knowledge of God must be brought to Christ to be tested. Through Christ alone we have access to the Father. We believe that Christ's Resurrection is the act of God in raising to life the whole identity and reality of Jesus. We believe that it is not simply a perception or interpretation based on the subjective experience of the apostles.

3. Our God is a triune God
We believe that by the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are able to share the eternal intimacy and delight which is the very life of God in the mutual love of three divine persons.

4. Our God is a faithful God
We believe that God is always as he shows himself to be in Jesus. In Holy Scripture we have a unique, trustworthy record of the acts and promises of God. No other final criteria for Christian teaching can supplant this witness to the self consistency of God through the ages.

5. Our God is a saving and serving God
We believe that God calls us into the Church and commissions us to proclaim and work in active hope for the dawning of God's kingdom in the world.


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America


Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Report of the Meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion

International Study Centre, Canterbury
10-17 April 2002

1. The Primates, as the spiritual leaders of the 38 Provinces of the
Anglican Communion, met from 10 April to 17 April 2002, at the newly
constructed International Study Centre in the Close adjacent to Canterbury
Cathedral. The Centre was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke
of Kent on the last day of the meeting.

2. This was the last meeting of Primates to be chaired by Archbishop George
Carey, who retires as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of October 2002.
It was thus very appropriate that this particular meeting was held at
Canterbury. During the course of the meeting the Primates took the
opportunity to bid farewell to Archbishop and Mrs. Carey and to thank them
for all they have contributed to the life of the Anglican Communion over the
last eleven years. The Primates wished them both every blessing and abundant
happiness in retirement. At a very enjoyable function in the Deanery hosted
by the Very Revd Robert Willis on Sunday 14 April, a presentation was made
to the Careys by the Primates.

3. God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. As Primates we
are conscious of this call at a time of tension in the world and in the
Communion. The Primates’ Meeting took place in the context of prayer and
deepening communion. Primates were able to worship each day in Canterbury
Cathedral, where they celebrated the Eucharist together and joined in the
regular Cathedral Evensong. Bible Studies each morning on the theme of
“Reconciliation”, were based on a selection of Johannine texts. These
studies were led, as at the previous two Primates’ Meetings, by Professor
David Ford of Cambridge University. Bible study took place in the context
of Morning Prayer, and was followed by group discussion and prayer. The
experience of worship and shared Bible study has clearly become an important
dynamic in welding the Primates together in a spirit of prayerfulness,
mutual listening, and grappling together to discern the will of God through
the breaking open of God’s Word. The deliberations of the meeting were thus
grounded in a profound experience of our communion in God the Holy Trinity.

4. The meeting was convened against the background of the horrendous
escalation of the violence in the Middle East, the continuing war against
terrorism in Afghanistan and the legacy of the trauma of September 11. The
Primates prayed earnestly for peace and heard an impassioned plea for
assistance from the Rt Revd Riah H. Abu El-Assal, the Anglican Bishop in
Jerusalem. A statement of support for suffering Christians, and for Muslims
and Jews of goodwill, and calling on the leadership of Palestine and Israel,
and all world leaders, to make a more concerted and urgent commitment to
achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East is appended to this
report (Appendix I - ACNS2955).

5. The first major topic of the business agenda was to receive a report of
the Consultation of Anglican Communion Legal Advisors, which met at
Canterbury from 6 - 13 March 2002. The formation of this Consultation was
an initiative of the Primates’ Meeting of 2001 at Kanuga, North Carolina,
USA, following a presentation by Professor Norman Doe of the Centre for Law
and Religion at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and the Revd Canon John
Rees, Registrar of the Province of Canterbury. This year the Primates were
pleased to receive a report of a representative group of more than twenty
Church Lawyers from around the Communion who had clearly worked harmoniously
and very productively.
The Legal Advisers’ Consultation had identified an initial list of
forty-four shared principles of canon law common to the Churches of the
Communion, covering
Order in the Church
Ecclesiastical Government
Doctrine, Liturgy and Rites
Church Property
Inter Anglican Relations
In addition, the Consultation’s Report identified a list of fifteen topics
representing legal issues on which further work may need to be done. The
Primates responded to this Report and sought to prioritise topics for the
group to address at a future meeting.

6. The Primates recognized that the unwritten law common to the Churches of
the Communion and expressed as shared principles of canon law may be
understood to constitute a fifth “instrument of unity” along with the four
instruments identified in The Virginia Report of the Inter Anglican
Theological and Doctrinal Commission (1997) - the Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative
Council. Given that law may be understood to provide a basic framework to
sustain the minimal conditions which allow the Churches of the Communion to
live together in harmony and unity, the observances of the ministry of Word
and Sacrament call us all to live by a maximal degree of communion through
grace. It is clear that the Churches’ legal advisers have a very important
role to play, both in the internal life of the respective member Churches
and in the life of the Churches together as a world-wide Communion. The
Primates enthusiastically thanked those who had worked so effectively to
produce the Report and endorsed the need for further work to be done.

7. Between two sessions of the Meeting that considered the Legal Advisers’
Consultation Report there was a session of theological reflection on the
nature of the Church and her mission in the world. Stimulating papers were
read by the Most Revd Rowan Williams, Primate of Wales and the Most Revd
Michael Peers, Primate of Canada. These broke fresh ground in relation to
the possibility of developing new ecclesial structures so as to free the
Churches of the Communion for more effective mission in the context of a
rapidly changing world. Reflection on these papers highlighted the need for
Primates to be open to the development of new patterns of ministry within
the inherited legal framework of our tradition. For example,
non-geographical networks within our geographically structured dioceses, and
perhaps even transcending diocesan boundaries along the lines of the work of
religious orders with specific ministry commitments, were considered. A
think tank was proposed to do some basic work on the exploration of these

8. On each of the first three nights of the Meeting, the collegial
leadership of the Primates, in the unity of their common mission, was
deepened by the sharing of pastoral experiences, as each Primate addressed
the question of “How we live with issues that challenge us.” Each Primate of
the Communion was thus given the opportunity to focus on experienced
tensions and difficulties and the means of resolving them. We were also
encouraged by stories of new hopes and accounts of Churches rising to meet
new challenges in ministry and mission. Reports on the local pastoral
situation in each Province were received in this way.

9. The Primates also met with the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary, Mr
Tony Sadler, and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, Mr William
Chapman, as Joint Secretaries of the Crown Appointments Commission. The
Primates noted with satisfaction that the Secretary General of the Anglican
Consultative Council is also a member of the Commission. This Commission is
charged with the work of appointing the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
First the composition of the Crown Appointments Commission was outlined to
the Primates along with details of the process to be followed for the
election of two candidates whose names will be submitted to the Prime
Minister of Great Britain.
Primates were then invited to share their perceptions of the issues and
challenges facing the Anglican Communion with a view to identifying the
qualities most desired in the next Archbishop. The Primates appreciated both
the opportunity to contribute to the process and the frankness of the

10. The Report of the Primates’ Working Group on Theological Education was
presented by Ms. Sue Parks of SPCK. This working group resulted from the
Action Plan of the 2001 Primates’ Meeting at Kanuga, following a paper
presented by the Revd Professor Dan Hardy on the need for the Churches of
the Communion to receive advice on such matters as the formation of the
Church’s leadership in holiness, truth, wisdom, and spirituality as well as
acquiring knowledge. The Group also addressed the need for the sharing of
educational resources across the Communion, including consideration of the
distribution of resources over the internet. The Report urged the Primates
to develop a clear strategy to improve the quality of the theological
education of both clergy and laity and to develop priorities and means for
providing for the delivery of theological education, particularly where
resources are limited. The Primates also recognised the need for the
in-service training of bishops and for the need for them to be as well
equipped theologically as possible in order to exercise their teaching
office with integrity and credibility. In the context of the exuberant
individualism of contemporary society the Primates recognized the
responsibility for all bishops to be able to articulate the fundamentals of
faith so as to maintain the Church in truth. A statement of the Primates in
relation to fundamental doctrine is attached to this Report. (Appendix II).
The Primates resolved to pursue the re-developing of theological education
by appointing a small strategic planning group to continue this work and
report back to the next Primates’ Meeting. The Report may be downloaded
from the Anglican Communion website at www.anglicancommunion.org.

11. Addressing Global issues:

(a) Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, the Anglican
Observer at the UN addressed the gathering, reviewing her work to date. She
stressed the importance of the Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship
of Creation to be held in Johannesburg the week before the UN Summit, from
19 - 23 August 2002. She also drew attention to the need to observe and
contribute to the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non
Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). In order to serve the
Communion effectively the Observer asked for the assistance with providing
solid facts to allow her to deal effectively with any issues she is asked to
bring before the UN and the Ambassadors.

(b) Christian Muslim Relations. The Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of
Rochester, one of the three Bishop Presidents of the Network on Inter Faith
Concerns for the Anglican Communion NIFCON (together with the Rt Revd Josiah
Idowu-Fearon, representing Africa, and the Rt Revd Kenneth Fernando, retired
Bishop of Colombo, representing Asia), addressed the Primates on the
historical origins of Islam. Amongst other matters he made the point that
there is no time in history in which Muslims have not had dealings with
Christians; also there has been a long history of theological dialogue
between Christians and Muslims. From the very beginning the Constitution of
Medina gave Christians and Jews equal rights with Muslims in the State of
Medina. Bishop Nazir-Ali suggested that this is the most original way there
is of being an Islamic State.
Bishop Nazir-Ali also outlined a suggested agenda of key items for the
future Christian/Islamic dialogue. His paper is available on the Anglican
Communion website.

(c) The Most Revd Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, addressed the
question of Shariah law in some states in Nigeria, which is threatening
national integrity. In these states Christians are discriminated against.
This has given rise to a concerted Christian opposition to the movement
towards making all Nigeria a Muslim nation.

(d) The Archbishop of Canterbury reported on the Anglican Communion dialogue
with the esteemed centre of Muslim learning in Cairo, al-Azhar al-Sharif.
Dr Carey is seeking names of suitably qualified Anglican scholars for this
dialogue. The next meeting is set for 11 September 2002. This initiative
received the endorsement of the Primates. Dr Carey concluded his remarks by
making a point about reciprocity: There are 1500 mosques in the United
Kingdom, but in many parts of the world churches are burnt down, and freedom
of worship is not allowed. Our hope is that Christians in Muslim countries
will receive the hospitality which Christians seek to secure for Muslims in
countries where they are in the minority.

12. HIV/AIDS. The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Njongonkulu
Ndungane reported on progress in planning the continuing response to
HIV/AIDS for the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop introduced a power-point
presentation by the Revd Canon Ted Karpf and the Revd Colin Jones, which
again reminded the Primates of the horrendous statistical dimensions of this
pandemic, and of the human tragedy and havoc it is creating. Primates were
concerned to learn that, after two decades in which the world community has
been struggling to address the problem of HIV/AIDS, some governments are
still in denial and are thus not acting decisively to initiate effective
HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programmes. In some countries the Church
is experiencing difficulty in persuading governments that the situation is
as seriously threatening to human survival and well being as it is.
Archbishop Ndungane urged that, in addition to admitting its failure, it
is clearly time for the Church to become more assertive in its response to
this problem. The Church should be less prone to silence, less judgmental,
less fearful, and more strategically committed to a global Anglican response
to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and care for those affected by the
disease. The Church should support and encourage joint effort between church
agencies and governments to provide education programmes, and adequate care
of those infected and living with it by ensuring access to counselling,
treatment, essential pharmaceuticals, and appropriate medical assistance. A
Primatial statement on this crisis is appended to this Report (Appendix
III). A Step by Step Guide to HIV/AIDS for the Anglican Communion can be
found on the Communion website.

13. A report on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical
Relations (IASCER) was given by the Most Revd Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of
the West Indies. IASCER reports regularly to the Primates of the Communion
as it is a Commission mandated to oversee our ecumenical dialogues, and
therefore deals with many issues of faith and order that touch upon the life
of the Communion as a whole. In his report Archbishop Gomez reviewed the
major international dialogues in which the Communion is currently engaged.
These are with the Baptist World Alliance, the Lutheran World Federation,
the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic
Church. He also pointed out some significant developments in national and
regional ecumenical agreement in several countries around the world.

14. Archbishop Peter Carnley of Australia then presented a report on Roman
Catholic relations, concentrating on the work of the new International
Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) which
came out of the May 2000 Meeting of Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops in
Mississauga, Canada. The specific tasks of IARCCUM are: to oversee the
preparation of a Joint Declaration of Agreement between the Anglican
Communion and the Roman Catholic Church; to promote and monitor the
reception of ARCIC agreements; and to develop strategies for translating the
degree of spiritual communion reached between us into visible and practical
outcomes. The Primates endorsed the work of this new Commission and a
statement is appended (Appendix IV).

15. The Revd Canon David Hamid, the Anglican Communion’s Director of
Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, gave an update on the study of the Inter
Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC) on “the nature, basis
and sustaining of communion in the Church with particular reference to the
Anglican Communion”. The IATDC has invited Primates, Bishops, Theological
Colleges and interested individuals to respond to 4 key questions that will
guide its study at this stage. The questions are available on the Anglican
Communion website and responses are requested by 31 May 2002.

16. The Primates are grateful to the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury and to
the staff of the International Study Centre who provided such a fitting
venue for the meeting and whose hospitality and service to the participants
has been most warm and accommodating. They thank also the Secretary General
of the Anglican Consultative Council and the staff of the Communion and
Lambeth Palace for their untiring support and efficient management.

17. The Primates thank God for the deepening unity that the meeting has
experienced. We leave the meeting determined to wrestle together with
challenging issues, and steadfastly affirm our commitment to work as one
Communion to the glory of God and in service of his Kingdom.


Tuesday, April 16, 2002

The Third Sunday after Easter. Meditation upon the Collect, Epistle & Gospel.

We continue to live in the Church Year with the resurrected Lord in the 40 days of his appearances and so we pray and read the Scriptures as those with whom the Lord is present.

The COLLECT affirms that our heavenly Father is the God of truth and light and that as such he desires that his children walk in the light of the truth. Thus it requests that all those who are baptized and enter the fellowship of Christ's religion will avoid everything that is contrary to that religion and at the same time embrace everything that is in accord with that faith and worship.

The EPISTLE is from 1 Peter 2:11-17 and is a call to holiness of life by baptized believers, who on this world and in this age are sojourners and pilgrims, and who are also in relation to God, the Father, his bondservants. Their citizenship is in the kingdom that is above and that will come and so their orientation of life is primarily to this kingdom. Nevertheless, as far as in them lies, they are to be exemplary as servants or masters, as citizens and members of society here below in this world that is passing away. As they worship, reverence, fear and obey God they are to honour the king. The religion of Christ brings duties both to God and to man.

The GOSPEL is from John 16:16-22 and focuses upon the phrase "a little while", which occurs seven times in verses 16-19. In a short time (from this conversation in the Upper Rome on Maundy Thursday) the disciples will not see Jesus (for he will be arrested, crucified and buried). But in a further short time, 2 nights/3 days, from the burial they will see him, for he will be raised from the dead and he will greet them as the Resurrected Lord with his "Peace".

We are taught in these verses that the death of Jesus was necessary for the inauguration of the new life of the Christian Church and that only when the disciples have suffered through being deprived of Jesus can they truly rejoice in his resurrection and of their union with him as their Lord. We learn that true joy is so often born out of sorrow and anguish.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon April 16, 2002

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at the funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Here is the essence of the sermon of George Canterbury. It was well written for him by one or another of his advisers.

The whole service was a beautiful statement of THE CHRISTIAN HOPE and was essentially expressed in the classic English dialect of prayer as found in the BCP of 1662 and the Bible of 1611, the AV KJV. In theology it was very centrally English reformed catholic (i.e. classic Protestant) eventhough the R C Cardinal took part. --Revd Dr Peter Toon


Westminster Abbey
9 April 2002

We gather in this great Abbey to mourn and to give thanks. It is a fitting place to do so. A place where the story of our nation and the story of the woman we now commend to her Heavenly Father are intertwined.

It was here that Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was married and became Duchess of York; it was here that she was crowned Queen; it was here that, as Queen Mother, she attended the Coronation of her own daughter. It is fitting, then, that a place that stood at the centre of her life should now be the place where we honour her passing. In the ten days since she left us, there have been countless tributes and expressions of affection and respect - including those of the many people who have queued and filed patiently past her coffin lying-in-state.

How should we explain the numbers? Not just by the great length of a life, famously lived to the full. It has to do with her giving of herself so readily and openly. There was about her, in George Eliot's lovely phrase, 'the sweet presence of a good diffused'. Like the sun, she bathed us in her warm glow. Now that the sun has set and the cool of the evening has come, some of the warmth we absorbed is flowing back towards her. If there is one verse of Scripture which captures her best, it is perhaps the description of a gracious woman in the final chapter of the book of Proverbs. It says: 'Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come.' Strength, dignity and laughter - three great gifts which we honour and celebrate today.

The Queen Mother's strength as a person was expressed best through the remarkable quality of her dealings with people - her ability to make all human encounters, however fleeting, feel both special and personal. As her eighth Archbishop of Canterbury, I can vouch for that strength.

Something of it is reflected in the fact that for half a century we knew her and understood her as 'the Queen Mother'. It is a title whose resonance lies less in its official status than in expressing one of the most fundamental of all roles and relationships - that of simply being a Mother, a Mum, the Queen Mum.

For her family, that maternal strength - given across the generations to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren - has been a precious gift and blessing. Its loss is felt keenly today. And as they grieve, we say to the Queen and to Prince Philip; to Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, David and Sarah as grandchildren; and to all their children: you are in our thoughts and cradled in our prayers and those of countless millions round the world.

The very first letter Elizabeth wrote on becoming Queen in the traumatic and daunting circumstances of 1936 was to one of my predecessors as Archbishop of Canterbury. It gives a further insight into the source of her strength. She wrote: 'I can hardly believe that we have been called to this tremendous task...and the curious thing is we are not afraid.' With her openness to people, indeed as part of it, came a quiet courage. A courage manifest in wartime and widowhood, a courage that endured to the end.

Strength, dignity and laughter.

There was certainly nothing remote or distant about her own sense of dignity. Her smile, her wave, the characteristic tilt of her head: all made the point immediately and beyond words. It was a dignity that rested not on the splendid trappings of royalty, but on a sense of the nobility of service.

On their wedding day here, the Archbishop of York spoke to the newly married couple of their life together: 'We cannot resolve that it shall be happy,' he said, 'but you can and will resolve that it shall be noble.' And indeed it was. An unfailing sense of service and duty made it so. It was a commitment nourished by the Queen Mother's Christian faith. A faith that told her, as it tells us all, that even the Son of God came into the world as a servant, not as a master.

Strength, dignity and, yes, laughter.

We come here to mourn but also to give thanks, to celebrate the person and her life - both filled with such a rich sense of fun and joy and the music of laughter. With it went an immense vitality that did not fail her. Hers was a great old age, but not a cramped one. She remained young at heart, and the young themselves sensed that. Of course, the laughter of the book of Proverbs goes deeper than a good joke or a witty reply. 'She laughs at the time to come': such laughter reflects an attitude of confident hope in the face of adversity and the unpredictable challenges of life. Of this laughter too, the Queen Mother knew a great deal. It was rooted in the depth and simplicity of her abiding faith that this life is to be lived to the full as a preparation for the next.

Her passing was truly an Easter death - poised between Good Friday and Easter Day. In the light of the promise that Easter brings, we will lay her to rest knowing that the same hope belongs to all who trust in the One who is the resurrection and the life. Strength, dignity, laughter - three special qualities, earthed in her Christian faith. Qualities that clothed her life so richly. Qualities that with her passing, we too - by the grace of Almighty God - may seek to put on afresh, in our own lives and the life of our nation and world. Let that be part of her legacy to us, part of our tribute to her. And lastly this: for the book of Proverbs has more to say about a gracious woman; words we can summon now as we commend to her Heavenly Father his faithful servant Elizabeth - Queen, Queen Mother, Queen Mum - deeply loved and greatly missed.

It simply says of a woman of grace: 'Many have done excellently, but you exceed them all.'

Monday, April 08, 2002

Prayers for the lying-in-state & Order of Service for Funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

(Notice that the English Dialect of Prayer is used for the lying in state prayers and for the service and that it is basically the 1662/1928 BCP tradition that is used. This is good for modern so called contemporary language is not sufficient for the occasion!)

ACNS 2944 - LAMBETH PALACE - 5 April 2002

Prayers for the lying-in-state of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

The text of the prayers used for the Lying-in-State of Her Late Majesty
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother this morning has been released. These are
traditional prayers which have been drawn up and adapted for this occasion.


The Archbishop of Canterbury says

Let us pray

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, we remember
before thee our sister, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. We give thanks for
her example of faithful duty and unwearied service, and for the loyalty and
love which she inspired.

Hear Lord, the prayers of thy people, and grant that we who confess thy name
on earth with her may be made perfect in the kingdom of thy son, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: deal graciously, we pray,
with these who mourn, that casting all their care on thee, they may know the
consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Subject: ACNS2945 Order of service for Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

ACNS 2945 - ENGLAND - 7 April 2002

Order of service for Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Westminster Abbey
Tuesday 9 April 2002 at 11:30am

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on


The whole of the church is served by a hearing loop. Users should turn their
hearing aid to the setting marked T. Mobile phones and pagers must be
switched OFF.

The service is sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey (Organist and Master
of the Choristers, James O'Donnell) and the Choir of Her Majesty's Chapels
Royal (Organist, Choirmaster and Composer, Andrew Gant). The conductor is
James O'Donnell.

The organ is played by Andrew Reid, Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey.

Music before the service:

Simon Bell, Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey plays:

Fantasia and fugue in G minor, BWV542
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Pièce d'orgue, BWV572
Johann Sebastian Bach

Andrew Reid plays:

Passacaglia in C minor, BWV582
Johann Sebastian Bach

Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV731
Johann Sebastian Bach

Solemn Melody
Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941)

Before the service the Tenor bell is tolled every minute for one hundred and
one minutes, reflecting the years of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen
Mother's life.


At 11.30 a.m. the Cortège enters the Great West Door and, preceded by the
Collegiate Procession, moves to the Quire. All stand.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey sings


I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth
in me shall never die. St John 11: 25, 26

I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my
flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall
behold, and not another. Job 19: 25-27

WE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing
out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the
Lord. I Timothy 6: 7; Job 1: 21

William Croft (1678-1727)
Organist of Westminster Abbey 1708-27

The Choirs sing:

THOU knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears
unto our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and
most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal. Suffer us not, at our
last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.

Henry Purcell (1659-95)
Organist of Westminster Abbey 1679-95
Book of Common Prayer

I HEARD a voice from heaven, saying unto me, "Write, From henceforth blessed
are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit; for they rest
from their labours."

William Croft
Revelation 14: 13

All remain standing.

The Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster, says


IN gratitude we bid farewell to a greatly loved Queen.

For her grace, humanity and sympathy,
for her courage in adversity,
for the happiness she brought to so many,
for her steadfast pilgrimage of faith,
for her example of service,
and for the duty which she rendered unflinchingly to her country,
we thank and praise Almighty God.

As we commend Elizabeth, his servant, to God's mercy,
let us especially pray for her family in their loss.

We give them back to Thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us;
yet as Thou dost not lose them in giving,
so we have not lost them by their return.
Not as the world giveth, givest Thou,
O Lover of Souls.

What Thou gavest, Thou takest not away,
for what is Thine is ours always if we are Thine.
And Life is eternal and Love is immortal,
and death is only an horizon,
and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

All sit.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr David Hope, KCVO, Lord Archbishop
of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan, reads


REMEMBER now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come
not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in
them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not
darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepers
of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the
grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows
be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of
the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all
the daughters of musick shall be brought low.

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in
the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a
burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the
mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the
golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the
wheel broken at the cistern.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it.

All remain seated. The Choir of Westminster Abbey sings\\

I WILL lift up mine eyes unto the hills: from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh even from the Lord: who hath made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: and he that keepeth thee will not

Behold, he that keepeth Israel: shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
So that the sun shall not burn thee by day: neither the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall
keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in: from this time
forth, for evermore.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end.

William McKie (1901-83)
Organist of Westminster Abbey 1941-63

All remain seated.

His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster,



AFTER this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number,
of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the
throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their
hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which
sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and
the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and
worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and
thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and
ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are
arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou

And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and
have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in
his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They
shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light
on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall
lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears
from their eyes.

All stand to sing


IMMORTAL, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest - to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish - but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
'Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

St Denio 377 NEH
adapted from a Welsh song set to a hymn in John Roberts' Caniadau y Cyssegre
W Chalmers Smith (1824-1908)

1 Timothy 1: 17 All sit for


The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr George Carey
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Primate of All England and Metropolitan

All remain seated. The Choirs sing


HOW lovely are thy dwellings fair: O Lord of Hosts. My soul ever longeth and
fainteth sore for the blest courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh do cry
to the living God. O blest are they that in thy house are dwelling: they
ever praise thee, O Lord, for evermore.

Johannes Brahms (1833-97) from A German Requiem

Psalm 84: 1-2, 4

All remain seated for

Let us pray.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

All say together:

OUR Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
for thine is the kingdom, the power
and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Right Reverend John Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of
Scotland, says:

GOD of all grace, who didst send thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to bring
life and immortality to light: Most humbly and heartily we give thee thanks
that by his death he destroyed the power of death, and by his glorious
resurrection opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Grant us
assuredly to know that because he lives we shall live also, and that neither
death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, shall be able to
separate us from thy love, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: deal
graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that casting all their care on
thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

The Choirs sing:

HOLY is the true light, and passing wonderful, lending radiance to them that
endured in the heat of the conflict; from Christ they inherit a home of
unfading splendour, wherein they rejoice with gladness evermore. Alleluia.

William Harris (1883-1973) Salisbury Diurnal

The Minor Canon continues:

ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless
our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, Philip, Duke of
Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family: endue them
with thy Holy Spirit, enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with
all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Dean concludes:

O ETERNAL God, our Heavenly Father, we bless thy holy name for all that thou
hast given us in and through the life of thy daughter Elizabeth.

We give thee thanks:
for her love of family and her gift of friendship;
for her grace, dignity and courtesy;
for her humour, generosity and sheer love of life.

And we praise thee for:
the courage that she showed in times of hardship;
the depth and reality of her Christian faith;
the good example that she set for us to follow.

We offer thee our heartfelt thanks for the deep affection she drew out of
everyone she met, and we pray that thou wilt grant her peace; let light
perpetual shine upon her; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power work
in her the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

BRING us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of
heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall
be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but
one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor
beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and
dominion, world without end. Amen.

John Donne (1572-1631)

All stand to sing


GUIDE me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fiery cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer,
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs and praises
I will ever give to thee.

Cwm Rhondda 368 NEH
John Hughes (1873-1932)
William Williams (1717-91)
translated by Peter Williams (1727-96), and others

All sit. The Reverend Anthony Burnham, Moderator, The Free Churches Group, reads from


I SEE myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am
going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that
was spit upon for me.

I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith but now I go where I shall live
by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself.

I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print
of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot to.

His name to me has been as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfume. His
voice to me has been most sweet; and his countenance I have more desired
than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His word I did use to
gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. 'He has held me,
and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath he strengthened in
his way.'

Glorious it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and
chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players on stringed
instruments, to welcome the Pilgrims as they went up, and followed one
another in at the beautiful gate of the city.

John Bunyan (1628-88)

All stand for


The Archbishop of Canterbury says:

Let us commend our sister, Elizabeth, to the mercy of God, our Maker and

O HEAVENLY Father, who by thy mighty power hast given us life, and in thy
love hast given us new life in thy beloved Son: we entrust our sister,
Elizabeth, to thy merciful keeping, in the faith of the same Jesus Christ,
our Lord, who died and rose again to save us and now liveth and reigneth
with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

All remain standing for


The Archbishop says:

MAY God in his infinite love and mercy bring the whole Church, living and
departed in the Lord Jesus, to a joyful resurrection and the fulfilment of
his eternal kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son
and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.

The Choirs sing: Amen. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) Organist of Westminster Abbey 1623-25

All remain standing for


All remain standing. Garter King of Arms proclaims


Thus it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto
His Divine Mercy the late Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Princess
Elizabeth, Queen Dowager and Queen Mother, Lady of the Most Noble Order of
the Garter, Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle,
Lady of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, Grand Master and Dame
Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order upon whom had been conferred the
Royal Victorian Chain, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the
British Empire, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital
of St John, Relict of His Majesty King George the Sixth and Mother of Her
Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth The Second by the Grace of God of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other Realms
and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith,
Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, whom may God preserve and
bless with long life, health and honour and all worldly happiness.

All remain standing for

All sing


GOD save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save The Queen.

Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save The Queen.

Thesaurus Musicus (c.1743)

All remain standing as the Cortège and Processions leave the church.

Music after the service:

Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV552
Johann Sebastian Bach

The bells of the Abbey Church are now rung half-muffled to a peal of Stedman Caters, comprising 5101 changes.

Members of the Congregation are requested to remain in their places until invited by the Stewards to move.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER -- Reflection upon the Collect, Epistle and Gospel in the classic BCP

On this Day, the Church actively celebrates the appearance of the Resurrected Lord Jesus. He has returned from the realms of the dead and his descent into hell, to where he went after his glorious victory on the Cross over Satan and sin.

The living Lord Jesus who comes to his disciples in the garden, on the road and in the closed room on Easter Day is the one and the same Person who died on the Cross; but, his body has been marvellously changed. It is now an immortalised, spiritualised, supernaturalised body of glory that is suited to heaven above, but which has the facility to accommodate to earthly conditions.

Thus he comes and goes at will during the forty days until he makes his last Resurrection appearance on what we call The Ascension Day. He comes and goes at will because he comes from heaven to where he was exalted when the Father by the Holy Ghost raised him from the dead. This exaltation will be dramatically enacted on the fortieth day as he ascends into the Shekinah, the divine cloud of glory.

An ancient name for the first Sunday after Easter is "Dominica in Albis" ["the Lord's Day in White"] because the newly baptized (on Easter Eve) wear their white robes for the last time. It is also referred to as "Low Sunday" because the ceremonial and solemnities are of a lower degree than on Easter Day itself.

The EPISTLE is 1 John 5:4-12. Here Jesus is proclaimed as the Son of God who was victorious on his cross over Satan and evil and sin. After his victory and his cry "It is finished", there flowed from his side water and blood (John 19:34) which have been associated with the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist in Christian tradition. Later as the Resurrected Jesus, the Lord Christ breathed the Spirit of God upon his disciples (see today's Gospel) thus giving the Spirit to the Church. By the Holy Spirit sinners who believe on the Son of God are regenerated (born from above) and adopted as the children of God and given the gift of eternal life. So the Spirit, the water and the blood testify to the arrival of the new covenant and salvation from God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ in and by the Holy Spirit. And the baptized person who has the Son (by faith and spiritual union) has life, eternal life.

The GOSPEL is John 19:19-23. It refers to an event on Easter Day in the evening when from nowhere (more correctly from heaven) the Lord Jesus, now alive for evermore, appeared to the disciples in the closed room where they were hiding. He brought them PEACE, the peace of God which is the Salvation of God, wholeness and healing. He showed them his hands in which were the scars caused by the nails and his side where was the scar caused by the spear. He did so to help their unbelief and to speed their coming to faith in him as the resurrected Lord Jesus.

The body of Jesus that the disciples see is obviously the body that was nailed to the cross but it is a body with new properties. It is a body that will never grow old or decay or be affected by disease and pain. It is a body that belongs to the age to come and to heaven and so is not subject to the laws of nature governing bodies of mortal men. It is a resurrection body, an immortal and glorious body!

Having brought the disciples to faith in himself as the Resurrected Lord Jesus, he then hands over to them, in the symbolic act of breathing upon them, the Spirit, the very same Spirit from the Father, who had guided and empowered his own Messianic ministry. With the Spirit he also gives them his authority to forgive sins in his name. Here the Christian Church and the Christian mission is established, that of preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the world.

This commission will be repeated again (see Matthew 28:18ff. & Mark
16:14-18) before the Lord Jesus ceases his Resurrection appearances and remains in heaven as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

But from Easter Day the new covenant of grace is in place, the Church of God is in being and the Mission to the world is begun.

The COLLECT was created in 1549 for the new "The Book of the Common Prayer" as the second Collect for Easter Day. In 1662 it was moved to its present position. It is based upon theses texts - John 3:16; Romans 4:25 & 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 - and well illustrates the Pauline theme that "faith works by love" and that those justified by faith are to live justly. Disciples of the Resurrected Lord Jesus are to live as those in whom is new life.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon, Easter Week, 2002


No one has ever found out at whose home or in which inn Jesus actually stayed from Easter Day until Ascension Day. Forty days or six weeks is a very long time for a person to hide his abode from his friends! Where was he? Why do the Gospels not tell us where he lodged? Why did no one ever ask?

Wait a minute! Are we thinking aright and are we asking the right questions?

Let us consider the nature of the Resurrection.

Jesus completed his saving work on the Cross and then he expired. His spirit left his earthly body and this scarred body was laid to rest in a tomb wrapped in linen cloths. Jesus as spirit was not extinguished nor was he separated from his Father. He proceeded to make a victory tour of the realms of the dead, proclaiming the victory of his cross to all who had died before he had died. And in this victory parade he descended to the depths of hell - as the Creed proclaims.

He descended as far as he could descend, that is as low as human beings and devils had gone due to their sins against God.

He descended to the depths in order to ascend to the heights (Philippians 2:5f.).

He was raised from the dead and the realms of the dead by the Father through the Holy Ghost. And his being raised was a complete exaltation from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven. This included the recover en route of his body (which was immortalised, supernaturalised and glorified in
recovery) so that he entered into heaven as the resurrected Lord Jesus in his glorified body and thus with his human nature intact and perfected and made permanently and wonderfully his for ever. And thus he began his reign as the King of kings and Lord of lords, our mighty Prophet, great High Priest and only Mediator as the One Person made known in two natures, human and divine.

From this invisible but very real and eternal world, the same Jesus made occasional visits to earth for 40 days, beginning on Easter Day morning to see his disciples, to teach them, to strengthen them, to prepare them for the mission to the world, and to assure them that would be with them always even unto the end of the age.

But in appearing to them (through locked doors and the like) he accommodated himself to their human situation so that the glory of his resurrection body was minimized by his omnipotence so as not to dazzle them, and the physical features were heightened by his graciousness in order to strengthen their faith.

He was exactly the same Jesus as they known before and on the Cross. His identity was the same and his identity had remained constant through death and burial and through the transformation of exaltation and glorification. Thus they could recognize his voice and his body when he accommodated himself to their human apprehension.

The appearance on the fortieth day is to be seen as a visible demonstration of the truth concerning him that he is the resurrected Lord who belongs to and comes to them from heaven. The entry into the cloud of glory, the Shekinah cloud known in OT times as the visible sign of the presence of the LORD himself, proclaims the truth that the Lord Jesus is with and in God the LORD for ever.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Eastertide 2002