Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
As we worship and pray on this most holy of days, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the beginning of God's New Creation, may we be filled with the joy that comes from knowing that God's love has conquered sin and death, and set us free for newness of life.
Our order of service for Morning Prayer can be found here.
Instead of a sermon again this week, I wanted to share with you all a poem I wrote a while ago, which you can find at the bottom of this post.
In terms of teaching this week, I commend to you this free EBook by N.T. Wright: Resurrection and the Renewal of Creation (only 15 pages in length).
"In this free Ebook, Professor Wright demonstrates how the common understanding of Jesus, his death, and the afterlife, is the product of a different philosophy than what the biblical writers present. He then unpacks a number of key passages from the New Testament to recast our understanding of resurrection firmly into the overarching narrative of the Bible."
You can find this EBook here.
This week's bulletin (for news and prayer list) can be found here.
And finally, we have music to go along with our service this week!
You can find audio tracks for our three hymns below.
Other online Holy Week resources are available through the Diocesan Website, and can be found here.
Many blessings this Easter Day, in the name of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ!
In darkness there we stood alone
Against the breaking of the dawn
We dared not hope the day would come
Contented in the shadow’s gloom
Our eyes were dim, our hearing gone
No arms embraced, we stood alone
In darkness there, our prison strong
Without a hope, we stood alone
Alone we stood, without recourse
Singled out before Your throne
No excuses, no remorse
No way to hide, we stood alone
But lo, what mystery? What grace?
The Judge of all judged in our place!?
You bore our burden, took our shame
Endured alone our stain and blame
You stood alone and offered up
Like broken bread and poured out cup
Your life upon the altar laid
A priest and sacrifice in one
You stood alone, but with Your blood
You cleansed our crimson covered hands
And brought us near, and raised us up
Now peace we owe to You alone
You stood alone while others fled
Before the foe that held us tight
No others dared to take Your side
No others joined You in the fight
From cradle to that cruel tree
You harried hard the enemy
And died with sinners at Your side
Before our eyes You hung alone
In darkness there You were alone
Swallowed by the shadow’s gloom
And with our futile, fleeting hope
We buried You beneath the stone
In bitterness, in sorrow we
At last could but concede defeat
And tremble weakly in the night
The day had failed. We stood alone.
But in that darkest, blackest day
That moment of our world’s despair
The morning dawned! The shadows fled!
Destruction fell on Hades’ head!
The love that bound Father to Son
Could not at last be overcome
And we, the captives freed from hell
Forevermore with You may dwell
Never again to stand alone
For in You now we are at one
With Father, Holy Ghost, and Son
Forever more we are at one
One of the resources that our Diocese has made available for use this Holy Week is a special "At Home" order of service for an Easter Vigil, prepared by the Diocese of Brandon. The order itself recommends its use "after dinner, but before dessert", once Easter has officially begun.
I commend this service to you, and hope that it may help us as a Parish celebrate the victory of God over sin and death, and welcome the joy of Christ's resurrection.
This video walks us through the 14 Stations of the Cross paintings by Fr. Sieger Köder, which depict various scenes from the story of Christ's Crucifixion. It is meant to help us prepare for a prayerful experience of Christ's Passion, with periods of both music and silence along the way. The video is about 25 minutes in length.
Good Friday Gospel Passage: John 18:1-19:42.
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” (Mark 14:32-36)
Maundy Thursday is upon us, the night we remember and relive Christ’s final moments with His disciples before he was taken from them in order to be crucified.
We remember His celebration of the Passover with them: Israel’s sacred commemoration of their ancestor’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery, as the Lord God struck down the firstborn of their captors. We remember how Jesus transformed their understanding of this already sacred meal into more than a commemoration of the Living God’s saving acts in the distant past, and that now, through His own body which would soon be broken and His own blood which was soon to be shed, the Living God was again about to deliver His people… and indeed, open the doorway for the rescue of all peoples. Tonight, we Christians remember with reverent joy the sacred gift of Holy Communion; God’s gracious self-offering life and love, made accessible to us in faith through the body and blood of God’s Son. We are used to sharing this gift together, but tonight we remember this Holy Communion without being able to eat and drink. Our true Communion continues, yet tonight we taste the loss.
We remember too the way of humility and service Jesus opens for us: as He took on the role of a lowly servant and washed the feet of His disciples. In this surprising act Jesus reveals that the Glory of the Lord and the nature of His greatness is not shared in by amassing power and influence for ourselves, but in laying aside our own selfish ways and stooping down to serve each other… caring for those around us in simplicity and sincerity, and seeking their honour and well-being instead of chasing after our own. Tonight, we Christians would remember this call to true godliness through the washing of each other’s feet, but tonight we are unable to re-enact this sign of our calling with our wider family of faith. Our true, humble and holy calling continues, but tonight we cannot feel its cleansing touch.
Tonight we remember the New Commandment that Christ gave to His disciples: revealing the depths of what it means to live as God’s children in this world. The fulfillment of the whole Divine Law and Covenant comes to its head as Jesus tells us His followers “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). Tonight, we Christians remember that this is always to be at the heart of our life together in the Church, and that more than anything else that might define who we are, we are called to love as Christ Jesus has first loved us. But tonight we struggle with how to love each other at a distance. Tonight we long for the shared life of love that is the Church, and though we remain united in our love for one another through the Spirit, we are still pained by our bodily separations. Our true community of love remains, yet we feel cut off from each other.
This is certainly not the Maundy Thursday celebration that we are used to. This has not been, nor likely will be, the kind of Holy Week that we remember and cherish. But it is the one which we have been given, and which still invites us to take part in the sacred story of Jesus Christ, who tonight shares with us something we might perhaps rather prefer to forget. For tonight in the Garden, praying alone, Jesus suffers with us. He takes upon Himself all the anguish and fears and sorrows of His people, and draws it all into Himself before His merciful Father. In His prayer that this dreadful cup might pass, “yet not what I want, but what You want”, Christ faithfully takes hold of all of our sufferings and makes them His own. His true act of self-offering also means sharing in our losses, our frustrations, our separations, and our sorrows.
Tonight, we remember the Gift of Holy Communion, the Way of Humble Service, the Commandment to Love each other, and Christ’s Suffering for and with us. Tonight we Christians remember that, whatever trials or losses or pain that we might be facing, our Lord Jesus faces it with us as well. He endures and tastes it along with us in all its bitterness, and bears it on our behalf to bring about our deliverance.
Tonight, may we remember that Christ is with us even now. And may we receive from Him all that He has to offer us this Holy Week. Amen.
Today is a strange day.
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the sacred time in the life of the Church where we recall and enter into again the part of the story which is truly at the heart of our faith: the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His resurrection from the dead for the sake of God's world. Specifically, today is Palm Sunday & Passion Sunday, where the Church remembers our Lord's joyful reception into Jerusalem, only to have those same voices turn violent; rejecting and condemning Him to death only a few days later. It is a strange day, where the tensions and expectations in the Gospels begin to come to a head, leading us on to the climax of God's strange and world-changing love story: rescuing His broken world by being broken for it Himself on a cross. It is a strange, wonderful story we are a part of, after all.
But we especially feel the strangeness of today because we are unable to gather together. We are unable to retell this story as the people of God gathered, and this painful reality strikes us, and should strike us, as a deep loss... to be acknowledged and grieved. Yes, there are ways we continue to worship, even as we are apart, and we know that Jesus is with us even now, and that we are still united together through the Holy Spirit... yet our inability to be together in person at this sacred time adds an element of strangeness that we cannot ignore.
Yet as the world around us has changed... as everything we have known has begun to suddenly feel strange to us... let us remember this week the Holy Story that remains at the heart of our existence. Let us mark the sacred time of Holy Week in this strange new time we are facing, with a sense of loss and feeling out of place, but also in anticipation of our future joyful reunion together. For it is my intention that at St. Luke's Gondola Point, we will celebrate Holy Week again as a Parish as soon as we are able to gather together in person in our Church.
This week, our Diocese will be making available several online reflections, resources and opportunities to worship and celebrate Holy Week, and I would encourage you to make use of them as best you can. I will also be posting some resources here throughout the week as well.
For today, our Order of Service for Palm Sunday & Passion Sunday has no sermon, but instead it has much more Scripture to be heard than on a typical Sunday. The first Gospel reading will recount Christ's arrival in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11), and the second Gospel reading tells in full Matthew's account of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:14-27:66). I have included here both the text of the Gospel (NRSV), as well as an audio recording (found below) of the Gospel being read by me. This week's bulletin can also be found here. As we listen closely to God's word to us this morning, may we be reminded that despite all of our uncertainty, and loss, and longing, we find our faith and hope renewed and grounded in this strange and wonderful and world-changing story of God's self-giving love.
May the Holy Spirit give us ears to hear his word to us today.
Many blessings in Christ,
The Gospel of Matthew 26:14-27:66 Audio Recording