Monday, April 27, 2015
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Justin Welby's Global Citizen Earth Day Message - Working toward equality, ending poverty and saving the Earth (video)
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Sunday April 26 ,2015, Yr B, Readings: Acts 4:5-12, Ps 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
The poetry of Psalm 23 speaks to us in the simplest of terms that belie the intricacy of its depth. Jesus would, of course, have known the psalm and it is a perfect pairing to his continuing "discussion" with the religious authorities in this week's Gospel of John.
The symbolism in this well-known Psalm is far more complex and fascinating than just the obvious image of a man walking down a country lane with a big staff and a dog, or the pretty girl of nursery rhymes with a bow on her crook as the sheep dutifully follow. Along with the earlier verses in John 10 (which I encourage you to read), taken line by line we can see, feel, and almost hear Jesus, our Shepherd, with us, reviving, caring, comforting, andanointing. Watching over us, preparing our table, restoring us; nothing we need is withheld.
Our Good Shepherd's job is never done. The demands on real living shepherds are constant and endless. Sheep are peculiarly needy and helpless creatures, quite restive, and even self-destructive at times. They can stand still for hours or bolt into stampede because an apple drops unexpectedly from a tree. The shepherd must keep continuous vigil against disease, insect infestations, predators, pecking-order fights, escape artists,
water, and food supplies. Sheep will NOT lie down unless they are completely contented and secure. A special oil mixture that the shepherd prepares and swabs (anoints) around each sheep's head and nose keeps deadly insects from burrowing and causing panic, disease, and injury, and the sheep is calmed for at least a little while. Then there are shearing and lambing seasons...*
The sheep know their shepherd's voice and it comforts them. Do we know the voice of our Shepherd? Some days I feel pretty sheepish and need that voice as reminder to get back into the flock. How about you?
LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY
Thanks to People's Prayers, sidebar
Thanks to Christina Brennan Lee
Monday, April 20, 2015
HOMILY - THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER - 2015: ¨The Apostle’s carried his message to Armenia, to India, to Ethiopia, to Rome, to places far from Jerusalem...¨ Ricardo+
|¨Scripture, Tradition and Reason¨ The Anglican way|
Acts 3: 12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24: 36b-48
In the Book of Common Prayer, Eucharistic Prayer “c” just before the great AMEN, we all ask “Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread”. We did not use this prayer in today’s Eucharist. This was a pity (blame me) because that phrase would have been in synchrony with the collect for today: “O God, whose blessed son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work”. It also would have been in harmony with the context of the Gospel proclamation this morning which follows from the account of two disciples travelling on the day of the resurrection to Emmaus.
On their way to Emmaus, the two disciples are joined by a third man who asks them what they are discussing. They are, of course, discussing the arrest, trial and execution of Jesus. They have also heard reports of the empty tomb. Their companion explains the scriptural basis for the suffering of the Christ. Because it is late in the day, the two disciples invite their companion to have supper with them in Emmaus. When their guest takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and begins to give it to them, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other? Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’”
Where was Emmaus? There are several candidate sites, all of them at least several hours to a full day’s walk away from Jerusalem. Since the disciples were able to return immediately, my preference is for a nearby location, on a well-travelled road. Remember that when they arrived in Emmaus, it was late afternoon. When Jesus made himself known to them in the breaking of the bread, it must have been evening. Still, “they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem”. I assume they travelled in the early hours of the night. The road must have been free from bandits, jackals, hyenas and packs of wild dogs, in other words a major thoroughfare. And of course it was the second night after the full moon that marks Passover, so there would have been ample light from the moon.
As in John’s Gospel narrative we heard last week, in today’s narration from Luke, Jesus does not open the door to the upper room and come in. Nor does he knock. Very simply, he appears. The disciples are startled, and some are terrified, thinking they are seeing a ghost. As in John’s Gospel, Jesus bids them to be unafraid, and he shows them his hands and his feet. He is not a ghost. As further proof, he asks to be fed, and eats a piece of broiled fish before them. In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene wraps her arms around Jesus’ feet. In this same Gospel, Thomas is invited to probe his wounded hands and side. He may materialize suddenly without a defined entryway but he is sufficiently flesh and blood to be embraced, to have his wounds probed, and to eat broiled fish. How can this be? Honestly, I don´t know because this is outside the boundaries of what I think of as reasonable.
You know of course that in the Anglican tradition we believe in Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We are confronted here by one of those narratives where our much vaunted Anglican reason has no answer. We cannot say how this could be. Tradition doesn’t help much either, although we can say that our Church believes as the Apostles believed, and has always made an effort to remain true to the Apostolic traditions of the early Church. So we believe as the Apostles must have believed, and trust that what they saw is what has been handed down to us over the centuries.
We return then to Scripture. We have John and Luke’s testimony to the apparition of Jesus to his disciples on the day of his resurrection. We have their statement that Jesus expounded on the Scriptures, and opened their eyes. In Luke we have also the risen Lord’s declaration that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. We know that this came to pass. The Apostle’s carried his message to Armenia, to India, to Ethiopia, to Rome, to places far from Jerusalem. The faith took root in those distant places, and continues to this day to bear its fruit. We are heirs to that Apostolic faith which circled the globe.
Faith plays a big part in your and my lives. In difficult times it is the life-preserver we cling to until we can get to shore. In good times it is a source of joy, of song in our hearts. Our faith is sustained not only in what we believe, but in the sacraments that join us to Jesus, and him to us. As we come to the communion rail today or at any time let us remember that we are going to an encounter with Jesus himself. “To the darkness Jesus came as God’s light. With signs of faith and words of hope he touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean”. Alleluia, the Lord is risen; the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.
The Reverend Ricardo Frohmader: HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN EASTER - “Stop doubting and believe”
Acts 4; 32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1: 1—2:2; John 20; 19-31
HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN EASTER - Saint Alban Episcopal Mission - Diocese of Guatemala - IARCA (received today)
The readings this Sunday demonstrate how faith impacts human behavior. It changes lives radically. Do you think that those first Christians in Jerusalem we read about in the passage from the Book of Acts were leading communal lives before hearing about Jesus and his resurrection? I am pretty sure they were living their lives in family households before they heard the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. The excitement surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, and his expected return at any moment, radically changed their behavior, and their way of living. That is why we find everyone sharing their property and selling it for the welfare of the believers. Individuals bring their monetized assets to the feet of the Apostles. This is sustainable only in the short term-what happens when all the property has been monetized?
The Apostles are witnesses to the life of Jesus, to his resurrection, to his ascension. They have seen him, they have eaten with him. There is an immediacy to their experience of Jesus, which when communicated to the believers brings out their generosity and their concern for one another. Jesus is returning soon. “Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity” says the Psalm we read. Indeed it is almost a sacred experience, like the consecrating oil poured on the head of Aaron by Moses his brother, like the life-giving dew of Mount Hermon that falls on Mount Zion where God has ordained “life for evermore”. This life together in unity is brought about by faith in Jesus and his resurrection.
Our faith in Jesus has transformative power in our lives. “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all…if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”. We often have problems admitting that we have sinned, indeed that we continue to sin, but unless we acknowledge our sinfulness, we will walk in darkness and be cut off from the atoning sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the cross. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” says the Epistle we read today. It is not that we are expected to be blameless and sinless. Rather, we are called upon to acknowledge and confess our sins so that we can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Doing this requires courage, and faith.
Possibly the most significant person in today’s readings, other than the risen Jesus, is the Apostle Thomas. He was also called Didymus, the twin, because he was one. Do we know anything about his twin? No, not reliably. Some gnostic texts asserted that he was Jesus’ twin, and took his place on the cross. The historical Church regards this as nonsense. The Thomas we see in today’s Gospel reading has a streak of skepticism in his soul. In that, maybe he is like you and me. He’s a show me type of person. We would say he was from Missouri if he were our contemporary, because Missourians have that reputation of wanting to see for themselves -that’s why it’s called the “show me state”.
Thomas is not present on Sunday evening; this was the day when early in the morning the tomb of Jesus was found empty. Now Jesus appears to the disciples, but Thomas is not there. Thomas refuses to believe what the others tell him, though they testify to the apparition of Jesus. "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." Of course the other disciples have had the personal experience of seeing Jesus among them, and of seeing his wounds. Jesus has also breathed upon them, thus conferring on them the Holy Spirit. Thomas has missed out on all of this.
Thomas may be a sceptic, but he is not a coward. In Chapter 11 of the Gospel according to John, word comes to Jesus from Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus is gravely ill. “Let us go back to Judea” Jesus tells his disciples. The disciples are opposed. Didn´t the unbelievers try to stone him there recently? Thomas apparently is the only one willing to take the risk and go with Jesus to Bethany: “Let us also go, that we may die with him”, he says (Ch. 11:16). His example turns the fear of the disciples into courage, and they all finally go with Jesus to see Lazarus.
Thomas also figures prominently in Chapter 14 of the Gospel. Jesus has just told the disciples that he must leave them to go to his Father’s house, but that they will find the way there also. Thomas is skeptical: “Lord, we don´t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” This leads Jesus to say that he is the way, and that he and the Father are one: “From now on, you do know him and have seen him”. Do the disciples understand what Jesus is saying? I doubt it.
On that day of resurrection, the first day of the week, Jesus appears to the disciples, but Thomas is absent. “We have seen the Lord” they tell him and he does not believe. One week later, all the disciples are gathered together once more, and this time Thomas is there. Jesus appears, and immediately challenges Thomas’ unbelief- he invites him to touch his hands and his side. “Stop doubting and believe”. Thomas’ response is immediate. “My Lord and my God” says Thomas, recognizing that Jesus is not only Lord, but God as well.
Thomas is lucky- he is given a second chance at belief, and he comes to believe. We too, we are given not one but many chances to believe in Jesus Christ, risen Son of God. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed”. We will not have the dramatic revelation perhaps that the disciples had. Yet we are invited to believe in Jesus as Lord and God. We do so by faith, and that faith opens the way to us for our salvation. We are more blessed than Thomas, because we have not seen, yet we have believed.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Thanks to Laura Sykes, sidebar
A wayside shrine in Lower Austria, painted by Albert Huspeka in 1996. CCL.
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
¶ The Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Acts 3.12-19
Peter addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. ‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.’
Refrain: In peace I will lie down and sleep.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness; *you set me at liberty when I was in trouble; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you nobles dishonour my glory; * how long will you love vain things and seek after falsehood?
But know that the Lord has shown me his marvellous kindness; * when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.
Stand in awe, and sin not; * commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. R
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness * and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many that say, ‘Who will show us any good?’ * Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart, * more than when their corn and wine and oil increase.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, * for it is you Lord, only, who make me dwell in safety.
Refrain: In peace I will lie down and sleep.
Second Reading: 1 John 3.1-7
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
While the eleven and their companions were talking about what they had heard, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’
If you could be one of the disciples for a day, which day would you choose? I think for me it would be this moment, watching Christ eat a piece of grilled fish just like the old times, the very ordinariness of it. And then ‘he opens their minds to understand the scriptures’: the full understanding of the meaning of the resurrection is unlocked as they share their meal, knowing that they are somehow reunited, forever.
Prayers of Intercession
Give us today, O God,
a glad heart and a clear conscience,
that when we come to this day’s end
we may rest in peace with Christ our Lord.
¶The Church of Christ
Lord, open the minds and hearts of your people to the living reality of your presence amongst us, and help us to live our lives reflecting that reality in ourselves and to others. We thank you that in the Eucharist, the beating heart of Christian worship, we your people have taken, eaten, and remembered for nearly two thousand years, opening ourselves to transformation in mind, body and spirit.
Lord, may we see you more clearly day by day: in your mercy, hear our prayer