Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Easter 3 April 26, 2009

Acts 3:12-19                                                                        

1 John 3:1-7                                                                        

Luke 24:36b-48

  

It would have been very easy for the first followers of Jesus to have spoken of him simply as a great teacher, a holy man who exemplified everything we should be in our lives. That would have gone down more smoothly in their day, as it certainly does in ours, where many people believe just that. But this is not the Jesus to whom the earliest witnesses testify. They give us this risen Christ—a human being crucified, wounded in hands and feet and side, but a human being raised from the dead, a physical presence who ate physical food and whose physical body could be touched, particularly his wounds. A human being who was thus also the Son of God. This resurrection reality is what the first followers insisted upon, what they were persecuted and died for. Continue reading ‘Easter 3 April 26, 2009’

Easter 2 April 19, 2009

The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” – John 20:30

I was talking recently with a friend who has for a long time been struggling with her faith. She has for years been alienated from the church in which she grew up. Its preaching and its worship didn’t connect at all to her life. She had stopped trying to pray. And then the bottom fell out of her life. “I suddenly felt as if I had been shipwrecked on a desert island,” she said, “I didn’t know what to think or what to do.” If you haven’t yourself been as wounded by life as she was, you know plenty of people who have.

The story of Easter is about people who were as devastated as my friend. Continue reading ‘Easter 2 April 19, 2009’

Easter Day April 12, 2009

Acts 10:34-43

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Mark 16:1-8

When I was a little boy our family went to the Unitarian Church. In a lot of ways it was a good religious beginning for me. I learned to love and honor God’s creation, to respect other people and their beliefs, to value justice and peace, and maybe most of all to appreciate the importance of rational thought. Unitarianism, at least in its American form, grew up with our Nation in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was about casting off the superstitions and hierarchies of the Old World and building a New World based on enlightened values. But one thing we didn’t have at the Unitarian church, at least the one my family went to, was Easter. Continue reading ‘Easter Day April 12, 2009’

Easter Vigil April 11, 2009

O.T. History of Salvation

Romans 6:3-11

Luke 24:1-12

 

Around the church tonight is this wonderful series of quilt-style banners depicting the story of God’s saving work through history. We have six of them now; Nancy Stehno just completed the one over the organ, illustrating a passage from the Book of Proverbs about Wisdom being more precious than gold. Nancy, I hesitate to tell you this, but there are six more we could do, if we draw on both the Episcopal and Revised Common Lectionaries! But, one at a time. That’s the way God works, so you can work that way too.

 

Actually, there could be more than 12 banners. There could be an infinite string of banners, stretching into the future, because God is working out God’s plan of salvation in every one of our lives, in the world around us, in every event in the news—even the terrible ones. Continue reading ‘Easter Vigil April 11, 2009’

Good Friday April 9, 2009

John 18:1-19:42

We have, of course, four gospel accounts of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Early attempts to harmonize the four into a single true or pure gospel were rejected by the Church. There has never been, and there never will be, a single “take” on this man we call the Son of God. Continue reading ‘Good Friday April 9, 2009’

Palm Sunday April 5, 2009

John 12:12-16  (Palm gospel)                                                                   

Mark 14:1-15:47  (Passion gospel)                                                              

 

[At this service, the Holy Cross Youth Group acted out the gospel in dramatic form.]

 

The Catholic Archbishop of Chicago issued a decree. (That’s the sort of thing Catholic Archbishops can do. In the Episcopal Church, bishops have to resort to whining.) The decree said that Palm Sunday Passion dramas could not be done in historic costumes. The reason, Cardinal Bernardin said, is that these things didn’t just happen back then. They’re happening now. Though this year we’ve done the Passion drama with some suggestions of costume—if you have kids doing the drama, you have to have a sword!—what we’ve just witnessed (and participated in) is indeed a drama about our life, not just things back then in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

 

What is this drama? A French historian and philosopher named René Girard has some very helpful insights. The crucifixion of Jesus, he says, is the supreme instance of scapegoating. And scapegoating is an ongoing drama—even the ongoing drama of human life. Continue reading ‘Palm Sunday April 5, 2009’