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I greet you in the matchless Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Mark 15:39 records a powerful statement from an unusual source - "And when the centurion, who stood there in front, saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!" (NIV) This Roman military officer has been described in medieval and modern Christians traditions as a convert to Christianity and has been given the name "Longinus," from the Latin "longus," "long," for the lance he used to pierce Jesus in the side, during the crucifixion. References dating back as far as 586 AD speak of Longinus and the "Spear of Destiny," the "Holy Lance" he used to accomplish this terrible deed. There is even a record of a spear, believed to be the "Holy Lance," being discovered in June of 1098 AD during the First Crusade by Christian Crusaders at Antioch.
As you can see, the study of these ancient Church traditions blend the actual Biblical text with legends that are associated with the important events. One of my favorites, references to Longinus, is found in a drama called "The Trial of Jesus" by John Masefield. After Longinus makes his official report to Governor Pilate, Pilate's wife, Procula, asks the centurion to tell her how the prisoner had died. Once the account is given, she asks Longinus, "Do you think he is dead?" Longinus answers, "No lady. I don't!" Then Procula asks, "Then where is he?" Longinus replies "Let loose in the world, where neither Roman nor Jew can stop his truth!" "Let loose in the world ... !" What a powerful description of how the gospel story has been spread around the world by faithful Christians down through the ages.
On this coming Resurrection Sunday morning, there are still countless souls, facing the account of the empty tomb, asking themselves the questions "Is this all just a story made up by his ancient followers?" "Did he really rise from the dead?" We, the Church, can join with "Longinus" and say "Yes, Jesus is risen and is 'let loose' in the world, as His Church, down through the ages, live with resurrection power, and share the good news with those still walking in darkness. We join in the ancient shout, with a 21st century vitality -"The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!"
Bless you, Sensational Salisbury District, as you move forward in this Christian journey with resurrection power!
Yours In His Service,
Dr. Grant Harrison, Jr.
The Sensational Salisbury District
Western North Carolina Conference
Piedmont Episcopal District
The A.M.E. Zion Church
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