Monthly Archive for May, 2011

Easter 6 May 29, 2011

Acts 17:22-31                                                                      

1 Peter 3:13-22                                                                  

John 14:15-21

My daughters’ high school offered a senior honors elective called “The Search for Meaning in Western Literature.” Students read a wide range of things, including – though this was a public school – parts of the Bible, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Every week they had to write an essay. One week it was on the search for meaning in what they were reading. The next it was on the search for meaning in their own lives. I’ve always thought this was the ideal high school course; adolescence is a time of searching for identity, for meaning. Teenagers ask, who are we, what is the world about, what is our place in it? For that matter, so do we adults. In our hearts, if we admit it, we are all of us adolescents all our lives; humans are created, it seems, to search for meaning. Continue reading ‘Easter 6 May 29, 2011’

Easter 5 May 22, 2011

Acts 7:55-60

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-14

“I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

The professor who taught me criminal law was scarcely older than his students. He was brilliant and charming and kind. He and his family had been refugees from Hungary, whether from the Nazis or the Communists I’m not sure. They were Jewish. While still a young man, Paul Bator was diagnosed with cancer, which progressed quickly to his brain. One day he awoke totally deaf, not long after totally blind. Shortly before he died, he wrote a letter to his friends, which one of them shared with me. “Don’t feel sorry for me,” he said. “I have everything I need: chocolate and raspberries and Jesus.” Continue reading ‘Easter 5 May 22, 2011’

Easter 3 May 8, 2011

Acts 2:14a, 36-41                                                                               

1 Peter 1:17-23                                                                  

Luke 24:13-35

There is a saying in Zen Buddhism: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Zen Buddhism is all about the shedding of attachments, including attachment to the Buddha himself. But Christianity, I think, is quite different. You might say it is about the deepening of attachments – though in a particular way, a way that avoids the false attachment of idolatry but leads us rather into a deepening quest for the attachment beyond attachments, that with God himself. Anyway, those thoughts as introduction to the gospel we’ve just heard, in which two of Jesus’ disciples meet him on Easter evening, on the road to a village outside Jerusalem called Emmaus.

What does this story mean? How do you and I encounter the risen Christ on the road of our life? How do our encounters change us? There are three parts to the Emmaus story which we will take up in turn: what Jesus does in “opening the Scriptures”; what he does in the “breaking of the bread”; and the final notation that when he had opened the disciples’ eyes he “vanished from their sight.” Continue reading ‘Easter 3 May 8, 2011’

Easter 2 May 1, 2011

Acts 2:14a, 22-32                                                                               

1 Peter 1:3-9                                                                        

John 20:19-31

If you are a visitor with us at Holy Cross today – and we welcome a group from the Church of the Holy Spirit, Plymouth, which is considering building a new church as we did – if you are a guest, you will not long remember the homily I’m about to give, or what hymns we sang, or anything else about this service. But you will remember this worship space, the seating in a circular pattern around the altar in the middle. We designed this building specifically for this configuration, and in these remaining weeks before my retirement on the Day of Pentecost, I want to celebrate Easter by worshiping together in this way.

It was Winston Churchill who said that “we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” The  church architecture with which we’re most familiar traces back to the Emperor Constantine and Byzantine imperial reception halls, where the emperor or his representative sat enthroned at the far end of the hall, his court around him, and the supplicant common people arrayed below. These buildings, beautiful as they are, shape a theology in which God is far off, his people are passive consumers of religion, fearful and subservient to their clergy, and worship is a privatized affair – me and my Jesus.

This is not so different from the scene described in the gospel reading this morning – the evening of that first Easter day. The Resurrection has occurred – Mary Magdalene has seen, touched and spoken with the risen Christ, Peter and John have seen the empty tomb; they have reported these miraculous findings to the other disciples. The Resurrection has occurred – but nothing has changed. Everyone is huddled together behind locked doors, imprisoned or immobilized by fear. Remember: fear is always the first enemy of faith, the first enemy of the resurrected life we are called on to lead. Continue reading ‘Easter 2 May 1, 2011’