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.
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:
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.
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
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.
Acts of Kindness, and
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.
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 Sermon goes here.
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,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
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.