Archive for April, 2009

II Easter: Breaking bread

April 19, 2009

I am pressed for time today, but in the spirit of not missing a week:

Today’s gospel in the LCC lectionary is the road to Emmaus, but most western lectionaries have the encounter of Thomas with the Risen Christ for Low Sunday, and I woke up thinking about that reading.   Thomas demands that he physically touch the wounds of Christ in order to believe.  What do we similarly demand?   We want clergy titles, recognition from various persons or groups, the right apostolic lineage, a church community that looks like we think it should,  501c3 status from the government, and so on.   We flail around, trying to grasp Christ in such ways.   Even if some of these things are given to us, they are far from needed.   Rather, we grasp Christ, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the mystery of the breaking of the bread.    As we share in the eucharist, our eyes are opened and we truly know him.  Yet Christ, who refuses to be bound to limitations and the fantasies of our ego, simultaneously vanishes from our sight, leaving us together in quiet wonder.

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Easter 2009: Taking hold of the Risen One

April 12, 2009

Homily notes from April 12, 2009:

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ is risen!   The dark and cold of the tomb gives way to the brilliant, warm sunlight of this morning, when, once again, the Risen One comes to meet us.  This is not just a happy ending to a sad story, but an event of cosmic import.  His countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow and for fear of him the keepers did shake and become as dead men.  In the presence of Life itself, the forces of death and constriction shake and fall away. 

The resurrection is not only about Jesus, but about us.  Though our participation in Christ, Easter is our story…  this corruptible (our frail everyday selves) must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.   Our earthly lives, even our physical selves, are swept up into the mystery of God.  With fear and great joy, the disciples grasped the feet of the Risen Christ and worshipped him.  Like them, let us reach out our hands to grasp him in this Easter communion, that the joy of the resurrection may fill us, today and all days.  Amen, Alleluia.

Palm Sunday: Honor and power

April 5, 2009

It is hard to believe it is already Holy Week.  Palm Sunday bring us to the remembrance of, as the collect says, Christ’s one earthly triumph.   What were the people thinking as they cried out Hosanna?  Were they hailing a political messiah, or a healing thaumaturge, or just the flavor of the moment?  Given how quickly the story turns toward Good Friday, it seems safe to assume that, in their praise, the multitude missed the point.  Jesus’ power is not the sort that brings accolades from crowds — and if it seems to, we may want to question their (our) perception of what they (we) are praising.

Nonetheless, Christ is not only the humble, suffering messiah.  The first reading (from Rev 19) presents us with the faithful and true one whose eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his heads were many crowns, and his name is called the Word of God; and he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written: King of kings, and Lord of lords.   What do we make of these contrasts, which refuse any easy reconciliation?   They will grow even more stark as this week progresses.  The suffering tortured failure is also the resurrected one who holds all the stars in his hand.  We cannot have only one side of this equation, but our minds reel and start to pull toward one side or the other – like the multitude in the gospel that shout Hosanna, and then scream Crucify Him. 

Let us place our hands over our mouths, stopping such easy speech, and simply gaze unblinkingly at the mystery, willing to see all the horror and all the wonder that Holy Week brings to us.