Easter Day fell on March 30 in 1945, just over a month before V-E Day, May 8, which marked the victory of the Allied forces over Nazi Germany. By April 1, when this editorial was published in The Living Church, the end of the war seemed certain (the next page of the issue sets out a liturgy for “A Service of Thanksgiving for Victory”). But concerns about making a just peace — in the context of the understandable vengefulness represented in the photo — were being widely voiced in the church press, as in our editorial. Of interest is the description here of the Allied forces as “the United Nations.” Planning for an organization that became known as the United Nations was then in progress, a development that The Living Church would celebrate in subsequent issues.
Editorial: The Gospel of the Resurrection
Easter 1945 finds the world rejoicing in Christ’s victory over death while the machinery of death roars unchecked all over the world. At last, the forces of the United Nations begin to see the end of the battle on one front; and on the other, the battle moves steadily forward toward the heart of enemy territory. One by one, occupied lands have been wrested from the invader. The American people, having been led to be over-optimistic once, are now hoping more cautiously; yet V-E day, at least doesn’t seem to be far away. This Easter is one of hope almost fulfilled, a striving almost crowned with victory.
But the closer we come to victory in war, the less significance seems to be found in the victory of Christ. More and more, as the daily newspapers show, our righteous indignation at the wanton cruelty of our enemies seems to be hardening into hatred and vengefulness. Already, peace arrangements are being projected with an eye to advantages in the postwar economic struggle and even to strategic needs for the next war. No voice from the great powers is raised to question the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty; if such a voice were raised in our own country, how swiftly it would be shouted down!
In such a world, the Crucifixion of our Lord, if it were the end of His story, would hardly be a memorable event. It has happened thousands of millions of times in the past. It is happening to new millions, soldiers and civilians, today. The innocent suffer for the sins of the guilty.
But the Gospel of the Resurrection cuts across this tragic circuit with a shining fact: the fact that suffering and death are not the end; that the world was not too strong for perfect manhood; that the end of the human story is not death, but new life. And the life of the Risen Christ, embodied in His Church, lives triumphantly through the ages, pouring out God’s measureless grace for the salvation of the world.
Christ certainly did not return to the earth to please Himself. When He comes to our altars all over the world this Easter, and day by day throughout the year, He does not do it for His own sake, but for ours; and not only for our sakes, but that we may go forth as His missionaries, as cells and organs of His mystical body, to redeem the whole world. We have not got very far with that mission.
An Easter editorial should be full of joy. And indeed, the Church and the whole world can rejoice that in spite of its self-bound wiles and stratagems, God loves it so much that He will not let it go. The Kingdom of God surrounds us and presses in upon us. Wherever we turn we find no abiding place until we turn to Him. All that God asks of us is to take our share in the victory won by Christ, to turn to Him (repent) and grow into the full stature of our manhood by the nourishment of His blessed Body and Blood.
The gospel begins with the cry of John the Baptist, “Repent ye; for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” And that is the watchword of the continuing Gospel for today and every day until the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.