Saturday, March 26, 2016

Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our
Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites
her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in
vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which,
by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share
in his victory over death.

Opening Prayer for the Easter Vigil, The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ecce Homo by Andrew Hudgins

Christ bends, protects his groin. Thorns gouge
his forehead, and his legs
are stippled with dried blood. The part of us
that’s Pilate says, Behold the man.
We glare at that bound, lashed,
and bloody part of us that’s Christ. We laugh, we howl,
we shout. Give us Barabbas,
not knowing who Barabbas is, not caring. A thief?
We’ll take him anyway. A drunk?
A murderer? Who cares? It’s better him
Than this pale ravaged thing, this god. Bosch knows.
His humans waver, laugh, then change to demons
as if they’re seized by epilepsy.

It spreads from eye to eye, from laugh to laugh until,
incited by the ease of going mad,
they go. How easy evil is! Dark voices sing,
You can be evil or you can be good,
but good is dull, my darling, good is dull.
And we’re convinced: How lovely evil is!
How lovely hell must be! Give us Barabbas!

Lord Pilate clears his throat and tries again:
I find no fault in this just man.
It’s more than we can bear. In gothic script
our answer floats above our upturned eyes.
O crucify, we sing. O crucify him!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The blessed in your eyes
are not those who have everything
but those who have nothing.
Not the rich in earning
but the rich in spending
who give their all for you.
Your ordinary saints
being your hands,
feet and words
in their ordinary lives,
doing extraordinary things for you.
The blessed in your eyes
are not those who desire honour,
but those who merely seek to serve.
Thank you for the servants in your kingdom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mystery by Joanne Droppers

“The highest knowledge is to know that we are surrounded by mystery.”  I like to solve cryptograms as I prepare for bedtime and when I recently came across this quotation from Albert Schweitzer it got me thinking about the mystery of the Trinity.

I pray to the Father in the words of Hymn 423 in the 1982 Hymnal: “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days, almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.”

I pray to the Son in the words of Hymn 106 in Lift Every Voice: “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Through the storm through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me on.”

I pray to the Holy Spirit in the words of Hymn 508 in the 1982 Hymnal: “Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.”

Al the while I’m praying to the one and the same God—inaccessible, leading me by the hand, and able to fill me with new life.  This is the mystery of the Trinity, the Three in One.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

God of such unwavering love,
how do I “celebrate”
the passion and death of Jesus?
I often want to look the other way
and not watch,
not stay with Jesus in his suffering.
Give me the strength
to see his love with honesty and compassion
and to feel deeply
your own forgiveness and mercy for me.
Help me to understand
how to “celebrate” this week.
I want be able to bring
my weaknesses and imperfections with me
as I journey with Jesus this week,
so aware of his love.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Word to the Church from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church
We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others.”

On Good Friday the ruling political forces of the day tortured and executed an innocent man.  They sacrificed the weak and the blameless to protect their own status and power.  On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, revealing not only their injustice but also unmasking the lie that might makes right. 
In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric.  Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society.  They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others.  There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.

In this moment, we resemble God’s children wandering in the wilderness.  We, like they, are struggling to find our way.  They turned from following God and worshiped a golden calf constructed from their own wealth.  The current rhetoric is leading us to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege.  We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.

We call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

— “In Blackwater Woods” Mary Oliver

Friday, March 18, 2016

God is faithful to God’s promises.  Before you die, you will find acceptance and the love you crave.  It will not come in the way you expect.  It will not follow your needs and wishes.  But it will fill your heart and satisfy your deepest desire.  There is nothing to hold on to but this promise.  Cling to the naked promise in faith.  Your faith will heal you.

— Henri Nouwen

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I remember how as a child, whether crossing a parking lot or walking in an unfamiliar place, I would try to keep up with my father but usually lagged behind.  I found comfort in holding his hand, but I could never get my legs to move fast enough.  He always walks quickly with determination plus his long legs meant I would need to take 2 or 3 steps to keep pace with him.  As my legs grew longer I’ve come closer to matching his stride but whereas he can focus solely on his destination, I’m slowed down by distractions.

Walking with Jesus, I have experienced times when we were perfectly in step.  We were both heading in the same direction and moving at the same speed.  There have also been times when I’ve run ahead of Jesus because of my impatience or arrogance.  But for the most part I find that I’m a few steps behind.  Sometimes it’s because I can’t keep up with the pace Jesus has set—my legs and my heart don’t have the energy.  I feel weighed down by expectations of following this path.  Other times it’s because I don’t want to walk with Jesus.  I lag behind by dragging my feet or even sitting in the road.  Anything to avoid the scary shadow looming over the path.

So why do I keep walking with Jesus, why don’t I walk on my own and at my own speed?  Because he is the one who will wait for me when I fall behind and heal my wounds after I sprint by him.  And in those glorious moments when I actually walk beside Jesus I live in the healing power of the resurrection.

— The Rev. Sarah van Gulden

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

O Eternal God, now may it please you
to burn in love
so that we become the limbs
fashioned in the love you felt
when you begot your Son
at the first dawn
before all creation.
And consider this need which falls upon us,
take it from us for the sake of your Son,
and lead us to the joy of your salvation.

— Hildegaard of Bingen, 12th century