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May 23, 2021 Pentecost:  The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit

 

"... Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim" (Acts 2: 2-4).

 

Go with joy:

may you be surprised by angels

and join in their laughter.

Go with empty hands:

may you receive the generosity of others

and the blessings of God.

Go with full hearts:

may you find opportunities

to share all you have been given.

Go in the love of the Maker:

who gives us life and calls us by name.

Go in the love of the Son:

who walks with us.

Go in the love of the Spirit:

who feeds us and leads us home.

 

Iona Abbey Worship Book,  pp. 155-6

 

May 22

Jesus,

our dead and living friend,

We walk the ways of death and life

holding fear in one hand

aand courage in the other.

Come find us when we are locked away.

Come enliven us.

Come bless us with your peace.

Because you are the first day of creation

And all the days of creation.  Amen.

Padraig O’Tuama, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, p. 39

 

May 21

Bless now O God the journey that all your people make

The path through noise and silence, the way of give and take.

The trail is found in deserts and winds the mountain round

and leads besides still waters, the road where faith is found.

 

Bless sojourners and pilgrims who share this winding way,

Whose hope burns through the terrors, whose love sustains the day.

We yearn for holy freedom when often we are bound,

together we are seeking the road where faith is found.

 

Divine Eternal Mother you meet us on the road,

we wait for land of promise where milk and honey flow

But waiting not for places you meet us all around,

our covenant is written on roads as faith is found.

Ana Hernandez, Covenant Song, found on the CD God Help Us.

 

May 20

 

Over time, over space, over matter, over thought

You are our God, in all and through all.

The noises of war are loud in your ears,

As is the cry of a newborn child.

You share the excitement of those pioneering research

As well as the last breaths of those facing death.

And in Christ, all the pain and potential in the world

Are held together in the hope of healing.

Be present to us here, Gracious God,

And let your Spirit open us to glimpse that fairer world

Which you intend for us and all people.  Amen.

 

Iona Abbey Worship Book,  p. 98

May 19

 

Christ above us, Christ beneath us

Christ beside us, Christ within us.

Invisible we see you, Christ above us.

With earthly eyes we see above us,

Clouds or sunshine, grey or bright.

But with the eye of faith we know you reign,

Instince in the sun ray,

Speaking in the storm,

Warming and moving all creation,

Christ above us. . . .

 

Invisible we see you, Christ beneath us.

With earthly eyes we see beneath us

Stones and dust and dross . . .

But with the eyes of faith,

We know you uphold.

In you all things consist and hang together.

The very atom is light energy,

The grass is vibrant,

The rocks pulsate.

All is in flux;

Turn but a stone and an angel moves.

Underneath are the everlasting arms.

Unknowable we know you, Christ beneath us.

 

George MacLeod, quoted in J Philip Newell, Listening,  p. 84-85.

 

May 18

May you be out of your depth—

as the deeps of the night sky

contain but cannot explain God’s mystery.

May you be in the dark—

as the moon is eclipsed but held safe,

with all that is, in the palm of God’s hand.

May you be lost for words—

as the Word is spoken

in the silence of the night,

in the Beauty of God’s creation.

The loving blessing of God,

Creator,

Healer, and

Holy Spirit

be in us and around us

tonight,

tomorrow,

and all our nights and days.

Amen.

 

Words of Sending from the Iona Abbey Worship Book, p. 55

 

May 17 Sending Prayer in the spirit of St. Brendan the Navigator

 

As we go we will not refuse any destination:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will embrace all that crosses our way:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will open our hearts to the good in all creation, despite our reservations:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will hold close to your Word and give all to you:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will not be bound by our weaknesses nor limited by our strengths: For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will see each struggle as a place of learning:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will welcome any companion who wishes to journey with us:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
As we go we will not predict or plan for rigid outcomes,
but will relish all of the surprises and take the greatest risks:
For wild blows the wind of the spirit.
Blessing
 Bless to us, o God,
the moon rising above us
the Earth firm below us
the Friends gathered around us
and your image deep within us.
Amen.

 

From Ryan Marsh, Celtic Retreat-Evening Liturgy,

 

 

May 16. A Prayer in times of change

 

God of Yesterday,

We knew you then;

your promises, your words;

your walking among us.

But yesterday is gone.

And so, today, we are in need of change.

Change

and change us,

Help us to see life now

not through yesterday’s stories

but through today’s.

Amen.

Padraig O’Tuama, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, p. 47

 

May 15

The Friday book group is reading John Philip Newell’s Listening for the Heartbeat of God, which include many Celtic prayers and blessings.  I’m playing this Ascension season with God’s presence and absence:  is there any place where God is not?  So many of the prayers bless everyday activities and help us recognize God in daily life . . . and then we forget, or assume that God is irrelevant to some tasks or places.  So from now until Pentecost, the odd part of Easter season where we live into the absence of the Risen Christ after barely having gotten used to his presence, here are Celtic prayers from various sources that evoke for me the mystery and possibility of waiting.  Seems especially appropriate as we try to figure out reentry, mask etiquette, reopening, and remaining uncertainty.

 

A prayer to the setting sun: 

“I am in hope that the great and gracious God

Will not put out for me the light of grace

Even as thou doest leave me this night.”

Carmina Gadelica III, P. 309, quoted in Newell, p. 46

 

May 14 disciples gather in vigil

Station #? Mary and the Disciples Keep Vigil in the Upper Room for the Spirit's Advent

"When they entered the city, they went to the upper room where they were staying.... All [the apostles] devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers" (Acts 1: 13a, 14).

 

Somehow this poem evokes for me the emptiness of the tomb, perhaps even Jesus’ waiting in it for resurrection to happen.

Prayer   by Steve Garnasse-Holmes

This morning do I dare
enter into that mystery 
we call prayer
that's not a thing 
but a place
endowed with emptiness,
a fertile openness
where no lights glow,
no jewels glisten,
but only I sit and sit
and listen, and do not
know, but know,
a happening where
nothing happens,
sanctified by
its purity of absence,
spaciousness of the silence
whispered tenderly,
unfollowed by
anything to say
but only the rest
of the day?

 

May 13 Ascension Day

(find the Pondering in the parish newsletter for May 13)

 

May 12 The Risen Lord Sends the Disciples into the World

 

"'Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'" (Matthew 28: 19- 20).

 

How different that is from John’s gospel, where Jesus breathes on the disciples and gives them the power to forgive or retain sins.  Matthew’s gospel focuses on church communities; it’s only in his gospel that the word “church” is used, and then only twice.  John’s gospel has themes of beloved community.  In both there are clear markers of who’s in and who’s out of the community and/or out of reach of God’s love.

 

Baptism and participation in church communities and teaching and learning how to live faithfully has been essential to me—I need disciples to learn more about how to love and forgive God and my neighbors and myself.  But the church has exercised authority to judge and condemn and dominate others all too often.  Remember in this resurrection season Jesus’ repeated invitations to recognize and follow and share the good news—one on one or small group conversations, opportunities to know and be known.  Jesus is not about control over others, and neither should we be!

 

May 11

From the words of Chief Seattle, found in Earth Prayers from Around the World, p. 10

 

Teach your children
what we have taught our children --
that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground,
they spit upon themselves.

This we know.
The earth does not belong to us,
we belong to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected
like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
 
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life.
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.

May 10

 

May 10, 11, 12 are "Rogation Days" , when 4th century Christians prayed for their crops and medieval Christians in England walked the boundaries of their parish praying for everyone and everything in it. For me they are days to pray for the well-being of the planet, and to rejoice in creation, and to turn from self-centeredness to the interdependence of all things.

 

A poem by Mary Oliver for this first Rogation Day, from  Devotions, #3 of “Six Recognitions of the Lord”, p. 125-6.

I lounge on the grass, that’s all.  So

simple.  Then I lie back until I am

inside the cloud that is just above me

but very high, and shaped like a fish.

Or, perhaps not.  Then I enter the place

of not-thinking, not-remembering, not-

wanting.  When the blue jay cries out his

riddle, in his carping voice, I return.

But I go back, the threshold is always

near.  over and back, over and back.  Then

I rise.  maybe I rub my face as though i

have been asleep.  but I have not been

asleep.  I have been, as I say, inside

the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating

on the water.  Then I go back to town,

to my own house, my own life, which has

now become brighter and simpler,

somewhere I have never been before.

 

May 9 Mother's Day

 

 

Earth mother, star mother,
You who are called by
a thousand names,
May all remember
we are cells in your body
and dance together.
You are the grain
and the loaf
That sustains us each day.
And as you are patient
with our struggles to learn
So shall we be patient
with ourselves and each other.
We are radiant light
and sacred dark
–the balance–
You are the embrace the heartens
And the freedom beyond fear.
Within you we are born
we grow, live, and die–
You bring us around the circle
to rebirth,
Within us you dance
Forever

Starhawk, found in Earth Prayers from Around the World, p. 14

May 8 

 

Somehow this poem evokes for me the emptiness of the tomb, perhaps even Jesus’ waiting in it for resurrection to happen.

 

Prayer   by Steve Garnasse-Holmes

 

This morning do I dare
enter into that mystery 
we call prayer
that's not a thing 
but a place
endowed with emptiness,
a fertile openness
where no lights glow,
no jewels glisten,
but only I sit and sit
and listen, and do not
know, but know,
a happening where
nothing happens,
sanctified by
its purity of absence,
spaciousness of the silence
whispered tenderly,
unfollowed by
anything to say
but only the rest
of the day?

 

 

May 7 "You are witnesses of these things"

 

Says the Risen Christ to the disciples as he prepares to leave them again, this time in the hands (or breath) of the Holy Spirit.  We are witnesses to resurrection power, to the way faith, however tentative, changes our perspective, helps us look for love and connection and forgiveness and beauty and peace.  When we see it, rejoice!  When we don't, yet, work and wait and pray.  Here's an excerpt from Passover Remembered, by Alla Renee Bozarth; hear her read it and find the full text

 

Touch each other
and keep telling the stories
of old bondage and of how
I delivered you.

Tell you children lest they forget
and fall into danger— remind them
even they were not born in freedom
but under a bondage they no longer
remember, which is still with them, if unseen.

Or they were born in the open desert
where no signposts are.

Make maps as you go,
remembering the way back
from before you were born.

So long ago you fell
into slavery, slipped
into it unawares,
out of hunger and need.

You left your famished country
for freedom and food in a new land,
but you fell unconscious and passive,
and slavery overtook you as you fell
asleep in the ease of your life.

You no longer told stories of home
to remember who you were.

Do not let your children sleep
through the journey's hardship.
Keep them awake and walking
on their own feet so that you both
remain strong and on course.

So you will be only
the first of many waves
of deliverance on these
desert seas.

It is the first of many
beginnings— your Paschaltide.
Remain true to this mystery.

Pass on the whole story.
I spared you all
by calling you forth
from your chains.

Do not go back.
I am with you now
and I am waiting for you.

 

 

May 6

 

Easter feels very far away. Most of my conversations are about re-opening of church and businesses and travel, and how tentative each step feels--eagerness and fear. News from India reminds us that vaccines and safety are not yet for everyone. Some conversations are about Black Lives Matter, and voting restrictions in Florida, Georgia, and probably Texas. Is Jesus' resurrection relevant to any of this?  Maya Angelou thinks so: listen to her read "And Still I Rise".

 

 

May 5 Station 13:  Jesus appears to Paul

 

 

The church calendar focuses on Resurrection for 50 days and then moves on to Pentecost and the movement of the Holy Spirit calling new Jesus-following communities into being.  The appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus falls outside of that timeline.

But God’s time and chronological time are not always the same thing! 

Jesus appears to Paul and changes his life. Jesus continues to appear to ordinary people, offering a personal invitation to follow that, if accepted, brings peace, new meaning, renewed focus and strength.  Questions abound:  why doesn’t Jesus appear to everyone?  Are folks to whom Jesus appears especially holy, or is an amazing experience of Jesus living and present especially for those who need an extra appearance?  Are some people especially tuned to the Divine, however they experience it, or are experiences of God and Jesus available to anyone who asks?

For me, conversion is an ongoing lifelong conversation with a source of Love, made incarnate in Jesus, who seems to always invite me into more openness, more compassion, more forgiveness.  There can be lots of silence between exchanges, time for me to incorporate change or, sometimes, to avoid it!  Think of times when you have been able to change your life for the better, and who or what helped you.

 

May 4 "And Jesus vanished from their sight"

 

The absence of posts for the past few days is actually due to catching up with life after a visit to my father in California, but it can also represent the flavor of resurrection stories where Jesus makes surprising appearances to a few disciples and then disappears again!

 

April 30 Late have I loved Thee

Janet Morley riffs on a famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions

O thou sudden God,

generous in mercy

quickener of new life

giver of new love

irreverent, subversive

deep source of yearning

startling comforter

bearer of darkness

unmaker of old paths

bringer of strange joy

abundant, disturbing,

healing unlooked for

tender and piercing:

late have I loved thee

O beauty so ancient and so new.

April 29

Prayer (15th century anonymous, found in Andrew Walker, Journey into Joy, Station 3

 

Thou shalt know him when he comes,

not by any din of drums,

nor the vantage of airs,

nor by anything he wears,

Neither by his crown nor his gown.

For his presence known shall be

By the holy harmony

That his coming makes in you.

 

April 28 One Of Oh So Many Favorite Easter Hymns

 

1 Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

 

2 In the grave they laid Him, Love who had been slain,
Thinking that He never would awake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen: 
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

 

3 Forth He came at Easter, like the risen grain,
Jesus who for three days in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead the risen One is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

 

4 When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Jesus' touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: 
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

 

April 27:  Station 11  Road to Emmaus

 

"They recognized him in the breaking of the bread, and then he vanished from their sight." (Luke 24:30-31, paraphrased; whole story here) Really?! This is the way to demonstrate resurrection? And yet how often do we only know in hindsight? And how much do we want to just have one bit of truth to guide us forever, when Jesus offers new tiny glimpses every day, every moment, but we can't hold onto them?

Prayer (Janet Morley, All Desires Known, expanded edition)


O God whose greeting we miss and whose departure we delay: make our hearts burn with insight on our ordinary road; that as we grasp you in the broken bread, we may also let you go, and return to speak your word of life in the name of Christ. Amen.

 

April 26:  Emily Dickinson on resurrection

 

While it is alive
Until Death touches it
While it and I lap one Air
Dwell in one Blood
Under one Sacrament
Show me Division can split or pare—

Love is like Life—merely longer
Love is like Death, during the Grave
Love is the Fellow of the Resurrection
Scooping up the Dust and chanting "Live"!

April 25:  Good Shepherd Sunday

The readings on the 4th Sunday of Easter always focus on Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  I think we always hear Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd."  Check out Bobby McFerrin's version of this psalm, written in honor of his mother and set in Anglican chant.

 

April 24  James Weldon Johnson St. Peter Relates an Incident of Resurrection Day

I urge you to read the entire poem, written in 1930.  Jesus’ resurrection presages the resurrection of all people “on the last day,” which is referenced in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  Johnson, a poet of the Harlem Renaissance, offers his perspective on that theory and U.S. society.  Here's the conclusion, in Peter's voice (premise is that when "patriots" realized that the unknown soldier was black, they refused to welcome him into heaven)

 

I gave one last look over the jasper wall,
And afar descried a figure dark and tall:
The unknown soldier, dust-stained and begrimed,
Climbing his way to heaven, and singing as he climbed:
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, I want to cross over into camp-ground.

Climbing and singing —
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, I want to cross over into camp-ground.

Nearer and louder —
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, I want to cross over into camp-ground.

At the jasper wall —
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river,
Lord,
I want to cross over into camp-ground.

I rushed to the gate and flung it wide,
Singing, he entered with a loose, long stride;
Singing and swinging up the golden street,
The music married to the tramping of his feet.
Tall, black soldier-angel marching alone,
Swinging up the golden street, saluting at the great white throne.
Singing, singing, singing, singing clear and strong.
Singing, singing, singing, till heaven took up the song:
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, I want to cross over into camp-ground.

VI

The tale was done,
The angelic hosts dispersed,
but not till after
There ran through heaven
Something that quivered
'twixt tears and laughter.

 

April 23  Station 10:  The questions to Peter

 

Jesus to Simon Peter:  “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  He replied, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-19)  After breakfast on the beach, Jesus goes off with Peter, who had denied him three times.  Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, which gives Peter a chance to realize that love is deep enough to include betrayal, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration of relationship.  The resurrection stories are so full of doubt and questions, which reassures me that faith is deep enough for doubt and betrayal and repentance and always new beginnings.

 

Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 223,

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

April 22, Earth Day

 

The Friday book group just read Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical "On care for our common home".  The entire encyclical is available  here: a summary with some action steps here; and finally here is a prayer from the conclusion of the document.  It connects care for the earth with poverty, racism, work, politics, family, and economics in a clear and compelling argument (even if you don’t agree with all the conclusions!).

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.

They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.

Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail.

You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord,
wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference,

that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.

The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life,

to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

Praise be to you!
Amen.

 April 21:  Station 9:  Breakfast on the Beach

 

We celebrated the Easter Vigil this year around a campfire in our Senior Warden’s back yard, reading some of “God’s mighty acts” from Hebrew Scriptures and connecting them to our lives.  After a few weeks of worry and hesitation and wondering how crazy this would be in April in New Paltz, it was glorious.

In John 21 disciples are fishing.  After a night of catching nothing, they see a stranger on the beach who tells them to lower nets again, and this time the nets are full.  In the meantime, the stranger, recognized after a time as Jesus, is cooking fish over a fire and inviting the disciples to breakfast.  Cooking fires and campfires invite stories and intimate conversations, which in turn reveal new insights. 

 

Prayer:  (From Janet Morley, All Desires Known, Third edition, p. 29)

Christ our teacher, you reach into our lives not through instruction but story.  Open our hearts to be attentive:  that seeing, we may perceive, and hearing, we may understand, and understanding, may act upon your word.  Amen.

 

April 20, 2021

 

Spring again:  three and a half minutes of flowers blooming in slow motion, from National Geographic

 

Residents of the Northern Hemisphere, specifically in climates with four seasons,  are blessed to be able to experience resurrection stories and spring’s blooming simultaneously.  Jesus’ resurrection is profoundly different than spring coming again, or archetypal stories of natural death and rebirth, because it is a one time event, and yet resonances linger.

 

April 19, 2021

 

Next time you are in the Village of a walk, check out New Paltz United Methodist Church, our neighbor down the block:  they have printed banners of the Stations of the Cross and now Stations of the Resurrection on their front lawn.  

Here’s a sneak peek:  Resurrection Power

Rejoin

Recognize

Renew

Respond

Receive

Rejuvenate

Rebuild

Respect

Redefine

Reconnect

Reimagine

Restore

Recover

Reconcile

 

April 18, 2021

 Station 8:  Jesus showing that he is not a ghost

Jesus himself stood among the disciples 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.  Luke 24:36-40

 

I'm diverging wildly now from anything I've seen in official stations, but this story is too good to skip!  It addresses those who say that Jesus' appearances were visions produced by grief, or some sort of corporate hallucination, or even that the disciples made up stories of his appearance.  Someone would surely say, "That's a fish tale even I can't believe!"

For me, the truth this story reveals is that bodies matter.  We say every week that we believe in the resurrection of the body, but as soon as you explore how that can be literally true you open wild wool spinning about where do the resurrected bodies go then, at what age, in what condition, etc.  When I assert this belief, I take it to mean that faith has to be lived out incarnationally.  Bodies matter, therefore feed them, clothe them, respect them, work for a world where all bodies are deeply loved . . .

 

 

April 17, 2021

 

Spring:  trees are unfurling every minute.  For a longer look at trees, check out this love song to them by Dame Judi Dench: 

My Passion for Trees

 

April 16, 2021

Station 7:  Christ appears to disciples who have locked themselves in a room

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  John 20:19-21

 

I wonder whether, in addition to the stories told of resurrection appearances, Jesus may have had individual conversations with each of the disciples (more than 12, women and men) . . . here’s what I, Jesus, know of you from our ministry together, what did you do once I was arrested? are there things you’d like to have forgiven that would help you spread the good news more effectively?  What else will help you move into a new stage of community building and witness? 

 

Here’s Janet Morley’s take (prayer 7 of 8 from All Desires Known):

Christ our friend, you ask for our love in spite of our betrayal.  Give us courage to embrace forgiveness, know you again, and trust ourselves in you.  Amen.

 

 

April 15, 2021

 

Station 6: The Road to Emmaus

Now while he [a stranger walking on the road to Emmaus with two disciples] was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he vanished from their sight.  (read the whole story, Luke 24:13-35, here)

This was the moment the disciples recognized Jesus, the stranger who had walked with them for seven miles, talking about their hopes for the Messiah and for Jesus.  Talking, mourning, looking for another angle, and remembering in their grief to invite the stranger in for dinner—then they recognized him, THEN HE VANISHED!  Really?  Live into the oddness of these stories.

The disciples ran back to Jerusalem to find “the Eleven and their companions,” and there’s more conversation and exchange of stories as this totally preposterous event becomes more and more real.

 

Prayer (Eastern Orthodox Church Kontakion, found in Walker, Station 6)

Set our hearts on fire with love to you,

O Christ our God,

That in its flame we may love you

With all our heart, mind, soul, and strength,

And our neighbors as ourselves.

So that, in all things keeping your commandments,

We may glorify you as the giver of all good gifts.

Amen, Alleluia!

April 14, 2021

Station 5 The Angel speaks to the women

 

(this is actually Station 2 from Andrew Walker’s book, Journey into Joy:  Stations of the Resurrection (2001: Paulist Press).   The previous Station 2, below, focused on the visit to the tomb more than the angel’s words, and I’m having fun looking again and again at old stories!)

 

While they [the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee] were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  (Luke 24:4-9)

Then they remembered his words.  Right.  Literally, perhaps, re-membered—put what he had told them about crucifixion and “on the third day rise again” in context, when before there was no context for being raised.  Remember, and remember, and puzzle, and discuss . . .

 

Prayer (attributed to St. Benedict, found in Walker, Station 3)

Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive you, intellect to understand, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heard to meditate upon you, and life to proclaim you, through the power of the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

April 13, 2021

A poem by Ted Loder, courtesy of Jane Conger

Guide me,
Holy One,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy
that is you.

–Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle (San Diego: Luramedia, 1984)

 

April 12, 2021

A reflection from Kappa Waugh on resurrection

(Other contributions welcome!!)

 

Resurrection is scarier than the crucifixion.  I mourn crucified Jesus, I am called to thank him for his sacrifice, I'm called to work against the harsh justice and injustice practiced against people, especially the poor, the weak, the easily abused.

But the Resurrection seems to demand more. As Jesus was transformed to the extent he becomes at first unrecognizable, it feels like as Christians, as believers, transformation is demanded of us.  And that's a problem.  I am safe in my recognizable self.  I'm scared of transformation.  Getting old, living through Covid, facing changes in my life-style, in myself and my spouse, that's enough!  I may give lip service to wanting to become more Christian, or more fully human, but do I really want to do the work, follow the cross, give up the control that Resurrection transformation calls for?  Do I really want God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit to alter me THAT much?

 

Second Sunday of Easter

 

“Peace be with you,” said Jesus to disciples who, in great fear, had locked themselves in an upper room (John 19:20). P.E.A.C.E.

Practice

Empathy,

Acts of Kindness, and

Compassion

Everywhere.

 

Saturday in Easter Week Station 4 The Risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles

 

Reading: She turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' She thought He was the gardener and said to Him, 'Sir, if you carried Him away, tell me where you laid Him, and I will take Him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni, “ which means Teacher. (John 20:14-15)

 

Prayer:  (From Janet Morley, All Desires Known, 2nd Edition, Easter Eucharist)

Come now, disturbing spirit of our God, breathe on these bodily things and make us one body in Christ.  Open our graves, unbind our eyes, and name us here. Touch and heal all that has been buried in us, that we need not cling to our pain, but may go forth with power to release resurrection in the world.

 

Friday in Easter Week: Station 3 The women visit the tomb

 

Reading:  “Early in the morning, when the sun had risen, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome went to the tomb.”  Mark 16:2

 

Mary Magdalene is one of the women in all four gospels; in John she is alone, and in the other gospels accompanied by various women.  They are the ones charged to go and tell the disciples the incomprehensible news of the empty tomb, various angels or messengers, and that Jesus has been raised.  And they are not believed initially—I’m not sure they believed it themselves at first. 

 

Prayer: (From Janet Morley, All Desires Known, 2nd Edition)

Oh God, the power of the powerless, you have chosen as your witnesses those whose voice is not heard. Grant that, as women first announced the resurrection though they were not believed, we too may have courage to persist in proclaiming your word, in the power of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Thursday in Easter Week: Station 2 Jesus Appears to his Mother

 

There is no Scriptural warrant for this; I learned it as a Jesuit tradition that feels right to me.  Jesus and Mary didn’t have the easiest of relationships according to brief snippets in the Gospels.  At 12, Jesus stayed in the Temple for three days without telling his parents where he was going.  He seems rude to his mother at the wedding in Cana when she suggests he turn water into wine.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report his response to “your mother [and brothers and sisters] are asking for you as “Who is my mother and brothers and sisters?  Those who follow me.”  In John, Mary watches as he is crucified, and another Catholic tradition not in Scripture but immortalized by Michelangelo has Jesus placed into the arms of his mother. 

For prayer, settle for a few minutes and then imagine their conversation.  Joy?  Tears?  Memories? Anger? Forgiveness? Greater understanding? Love? What’s next?

  Or hear Mary’s prayer at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry (this version is from the Order of St. Helena Breviary, p. 201))

My soul proclaims your greatness, Ò God; my spirit rejoices in yóu, my Sávior, *

for you have lôoked with favor on your lówly sérvant.

From this day all generations will cáll me bléssed; *

you, the Almîghty, have done great things for me, and hóly ís your Name.

You have mercy on thóse who féar you *

 from generâtion to génerátion.

You, O God, have shown stréngth with yóur arm, *

and scâttered the próud in théir conceit,

Casting down the míghty fróm their thrones *

and lifting úp the lówly.

You have filled the húngry with góod things *

and sênt the rích away émpty.

You have come to the help ofyour sérvant Ísrael, *

for you have remêmbered your prómise of mércy,

The promise máde to our fórebears, *
to Âbraham, Sarah and their chíldren for éver.

 

Wednesday in Easter Week:  Station 1 Jesus is Raised

 

Reading: "The angel of the Lord said to the women: 'Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said." (Matthew 28: 5b-6a).

 

Prayer:          (Barbara Deming, in Earth Prayers: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations from Around the World, pp. 76-77)

 

Spirit of love that flows against our flesh, sets it trembling,

moves across it as across grass

Erasing every boundary that we accept

And swings the doors of our lives wide—

This is a prayer I sing:  Save our perishing earth!

. . . Spirit that hears each one of us,

Hears all that is—

Listens, listens, hears us out—

Inspire us now!  Amen.

Tuesday in Easter Week

A bit of beauty:  the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in The Netherlands during COVID restrictions

 

Prayer for this day in the Book of Common Prayer, p. 223

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Easter Monday

Christ is Risen!  And we have fifty days to contemplate what that might mean for us, individually and as a congregation and wider community.  The Stations of the Cross is a venerable tradition from the 4th century; Via Lucis, or Stations of the Resurrection, seems to have started around 1980.  I first found a sculpted set of stations set of stations, designed by Giovanni Dragoni, outside the San Callisto Catacombs in Rome, Italy.  There are many different versions floating around the web:  here’s a set from St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, PA, designed as a family devotion. And reflections over the next few weeks will dwell on those and other images.

 

Easter Sunday

Easter Sermon goes here.

 

Good Friday

Stations of the Cross in light of current headlines

 

 

 

 

Gethsemane,

by Mary Oliver

Found in Devotions:  Selected Poems, p. 129

 

The grass never sleeps.

Or the roses.

Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

 

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

 

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,

and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,

and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

 

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe

the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn't move,

     maybe

the lake far away, where once he walked as on a

     blue pavement,

lay still and waited, wild awake.

 

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not

keep that vigil, how they must have wept,

so utterly human, knowing this too

must be a part of the story.