Archive for March 2010

Holy Saturday   Leave a comment

The Edicule, which surrounds the briefly occupied tomb of Jesus–at the Church of the Holy Sepuchre, Jerusalem, Israel

Image Source = Wayne McLean

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March 31, 2018

April 20, 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Job 14:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

[Job prayed,] “A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,

c0mes up like a flower and withers,

flees like a shadow and does not last.

Do you fix your eyes on such a one?

Do you bring me into judgment with you?

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?

No one can.

Since their days are determined,

and the number of their months is known to you,

and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass,

look away from them, and desist,

that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days.

For there is hope for a tree,

if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,

and that its shoots will not cease.

Though its root grows old in the earth,

and its stump dies in the ground,

yet at the scent of water it will bud

and put forth branches like a young plant.

But mortals die, and are laid low;

humans expire, and where are they?

As waters fail from a lake,

and a river wastes away and dries up,

so mortals lie down and do not rise again;

until the heavens are no more, they will not awake

or be roused out of their sleep.

O that you would hide me in Sheol,

that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,

that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

If mortals die, will they live again?

All the days of my service I would wait

until my release should come.

Psalm 130 (New Revised Standard Version):

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!

For with the LORD there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

OR

Psalm 31:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;

do not let me be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me.

Incline your ear to me;

rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me,

a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;

for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

take me out of the net that is hidden for me,

for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit;

you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

1 Peter 4:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.  You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.  They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme.  But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.  For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift you has received.  Whoever speaks must do as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.  To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever.  Amen.

Matthew 27:57-66 (New Revised Standard Version):

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.  He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.  Mary Magadelene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that imposter said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”  Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”  So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

OR

John 19:38-42 (New Revised Standard Version):

After these things [the death of Jesus and the piercing of his side], Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of [some of] the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus.  Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.  Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.  They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.  Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.  And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Collect:

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and was buried.  He descended to the dead.”–From the Apostles’ Creed

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The Revised English Bible translation rendering of 1 Peter 4:1-8 states that “love cancels out a number of sins.”  This thought is appropriate for Holy Saturday.  Ancient Christian tradition features more than one understanding of how the Atonement works, but almost all of them place some emphasis on the death of Jesus and on his blood.  (The resurrection is crucial to the Atonement, too, but let us not get ahead of the story.)  Regardless of how the Atonement works in reality and how one thinks it functions, divine love is an essential component of it.  So “love cancels out a number of sins,” indeed.

Today, as we ponder these matters, let us permit Jesus to be dead liturgically.  Easter Sunday will arrive soon enough.  Resurrection, although glorious, must follow death.  So let Jesus’ death sink in.

KRT

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Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 20

Tagged with

Good Friday   2 comments

The Crucifixion, by Titian (1558)

March 30, 2018

April 19, 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Old Roman Chant for the Adoration of the Cross:   Domine audivi auditum tuum.

(Written down in the 600s C.E., so who knows how long people passed it down via oral tradition?)

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (New Revised Standard Version):

See, my servant shall prosper;

he shall be exalted and lifted up,

and shall be very high.

Just as there were many who were astonished at him

–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of mortals–

so he shall startle many nations;

kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities

and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that is before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grace with the wicked

and this tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will the LORD to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,

he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 22:1-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

To you they cried, and were saved;

in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

scorned by others, and despised by the people.

All who see me mock at me;

they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

“Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver–

let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

On you I was cast from my birth,

and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

it is melted within my breast;

my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;

a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shriveled,

I can count all my bones.

They stare and gloat over me;

they divide my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, do not be far away!

O my help, come quickly to my aid!

Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the power of the dog!

Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

Hebrews 10:1-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach.  Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?  But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body you have prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”

(in the scroll of the book it is written of me.)”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.”  He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.  And it is by God’s will that we have the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifice for sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.”  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord:

I will put my laws in their hearts,

and I will write them on their minds,”

he also adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is no forgiveness of these, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

John 18:1-19:37 (New Revised Standard Version):

AfterJesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Collect:

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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This day I choose to focus not on the lengthy and moving Gospel reading, but on the Epistle.  God is love, Jesus commanded his Apostles to love another as he loved them.  Because of divine love the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus and helped many people.  Because of his love and human wickedness Jesus went to his death.  And because of love Jesus rose again, demonstrated the superior power of God, and went on before us.  Because of love the surviving Apostles preached the Gospel and most gave their lives.  So I think about Hebrews 10:24:  “And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds….”

Did not Jesus seek to provoke people to love and good deeds?  We who call ourselves Christians need to think about what that label means.  We who claim the name of Jesus should take up our cross(es) and follow him.  We ought to follow his example and keep his commandments, which entail love and good deeds.  We need to honor our Lord and Savior with our lives, not just our words.  This message is appropriate on any day, but especially on Good Friday.

Think about how much better the world would be if more of us spent our days thinking of ways to provoke each other to love and good deeds, then acting on these intentions.  Imagine how much respectful talk radio, news and opinion websites, and 24-hour news and opinion channels would be if love and good deeds were to displace shouting matches and pandering to base desires and pressures to indulge in infotainment, lies, and half-truths.  How many churches would become more Christlike if parishioners sought to encourage one another to love and good deeds instead of playing theological games of one upsmanship and arguing about trivial matters, such as the color of the carpet?  Alas, negativity and fluff attract huge audiences.  We humans are our own worst enemies.

Today and every other day may we reflect on the love God for us.  May this agape love inspire us to seek to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters in the divine household, via grace, of course.

KRT

Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 19

Tagged with

Maundy Thursday   Leave a comment

Lamb Altarpiece, Ghent, by Jan van Eyck (circa 1395-1441)

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March 29, 2018

April 18, 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Exodus 12:1-14a (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:  This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.  Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.  If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight.  They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs.  You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  This is how you shall eat it; your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly.  It is the passover of the LORD.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (New Revised Standard Version):

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Psalm 78:14-20, 23-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the daytime he [God] led them with a cloud,

and all night long with a fiery light.

He split rocks open in the wilderness,

and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

He made streams come out of the rock,

and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Yet they sinned still more against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

They tested God in their heart

by demanding the food they craved.

They spoke against God, saying,

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out

and torrents overflowed,

can he also give bread,

or provide meat for his people?”

Yet he commanded the skies above,

and opened the doors of heaven;

he rained down on them manna to eat,

and gave them the grain of heaven.

Mortals ate the bread of angels;

he sent them food in abundance.

John 13:1-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.  And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus answered, “You do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”  Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.  And you are clean, though not all of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.  If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them….”

OR

Luke 22:14-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the hour came, he [Jesus] took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.  For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!”  Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.

You are those who have stood by me in my trials, and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

The Collect:

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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The Kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to human political and economic systems.  Political systems, even the most benign ones, rely partially on coercion.  And economic systems stand partially on artificial scarcity.  With God, however, there is always enough for everyone to have what he or she needs, and servanthood is the path to leadership.

These are radical ideas.  In the 1960s Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini made the landmark movie, The Gospel According Matthew, with most dialogue lifted from the Gospel of Matthew.  Spanish Fascist dictator Francisco Franco labeled the movie “Marxist.”  An old maxim states that the purpose of the Gospel is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  That is what the Gospel does when one presents it properly, without diluting it.

Jesus demonstrated service, becoming the Passover lamb.  This point becomes especially clear in the Gospel of John, which places the crucifixion on Thursday, as the priests sacrifice lambs at the Temple.  Thus the Last Supper was a Passover meal in the Synoptic Gospels, but not the Johannine Gospel.  In John, Jesus was the Passover meal. And today, in the Holy Eucharist (one of seven sacraments), we Christians can partake of his body and blood–not in a symbolic sense, not as a memorial meal, not as an ordinance–but via Transubstantiation.  Thanks be to God!

The purpose of the Passover lamb’s blood smeared on the household door frame was to spare the life of the firstborn son in that household.  In other words, the blood of the lamb saved one ‘s life from the consequences of other people’s sins.  This is vital to understand.  If Jesus, then, is the ultimate Passover lamb, he saves us from consequences of the sins of others, not ourselves.  So St. Anselm’s theology of the Atonement cannot rest upon the Passover lamb analogy.  Thus the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice must work another way, assuming the veracity of the Passover lamb analogy.  (Think about it.)

KRT

Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 18

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Wednesday in Holy Week   Leave a comment

Jerome Pradon as Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)

(A Screen Capture I Took via PowerDVD)

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March 28, 2018

April 17, 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Isaiah 50:4-9a (New Revised Standard Version):

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher,

that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.

Morning by morning he wakens–

wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

The Lord GOD has opened my ear,

and I was not rebellious,

I did not turn backward.

I gave my back to those who struck me,

and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;

I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

The Lord GOD helps me;

therefore I have not been disgraced;

therefore I have set my face like flint,

and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

he who vindicates me is near.

Who will contend with me?

Let us stand up together.

Who are my adversaries?

Let them confront me.

It is the Lord GOD who helps me;

who will declare me guilty?

Hebrews 9:11-15, 24-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occured that redeems them from the transgressions of the first covenant.

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for when he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world.  But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Psalm 69:6-15, 20-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,

O Lord GOD of hosts;

do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me,

O God of Israel.

It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,

that shame has covered my face.

I have become a stranger to my kindred,

an alien to my mother’s children.

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;

the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

When I stumbled my soul with fasting,

they insulted me for doing so.

When I made sackcloth my clothing,

I became a byword to them.

I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,

and the drunkards made songs about me.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.

At an acceptable time, O God,

in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.

With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire;

let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.

Do not let the flood sweep over me,

or the deep swallow me up,

or the Pit close its mouth over me.

Insults have broken my heart,

so that I am in despair.

I looked for pity, but there was none;

and for comforters, but I found none.

They gave me poison for food,

and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

John 13:21-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”  The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.  One of his disciples–the one whom Jesus loved–was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.  So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”  So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.  After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.  Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”  Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.  Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or that he should give something to the poor.  So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out.  And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.   If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.  Little children, I am with you only a little longer.  You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 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.”

OR

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.  But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

[Note:  Verses 6 to 13 tell of an unnamed woman anointing Jesus’ head with “a very costly ointment” at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany.]

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?”  They paid him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to eat the Passover?”  He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”  And they became greatly distressed and began to say to one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”  He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to the one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!  It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”  Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”  He replied, “You have said so.”

The Collect:

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped, and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Judas Iscariot was a disappointed man.

Jesus was not the person Judas wanted him to be.  Judas did not understand the true meaning of Messiahship.  This is understandable, given the context, which was Roman occupation.  To expect a Messiah who was a national liberator was not unusual, given those circumstances.  This was a common expectation, after all.  Yet something else was wrong with Judas, for he betrayed Jesus.

Judas had some severe character faults–namely, greed and dishonesty.  And so the fatal cocktail of ingredients came into being.  Yet Judas played an important role in salvation history.  Let us remember this always.

Jesus commanded his Apostles to love one another as he loved them.  He loved them and everyone to the point of self-sacrifice.  History and tradition tell us that, of the eleven surviving Apostles, only John did not become a martyr, and that he endured his share of suffering.  And Matthias, Judas’s replacement, became a martyr.  Martyrdom, although not every Christian’s ultimate call, remains a real possibility for many Christians today.

In an earlier devotion I wrote of disappointment with Jesus.  I stated that Jesus was and is the person he should be.  He was and is what he should be.  Therefore, any disappointment with him indicates erroneous expectations, not any fault with Jesus.  Does Jesus disappoint us?  If so, we need to examine ourselves spiritually and seek divine aid in correcting this matter.  Let us not betray Jesus, too.  Rather, may we follow Jesus, whatever that entails.

KRT

Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 17

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Tuesday in Holy Week   Leave a comment

March 27, 2018

April 16. 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Isaiah 49:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Listen to me, O coastlands,

pay attention, you peoples from far away!

The LORD called to me before I was born,

while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said tome, “You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

But I said, “I have labored in vain,

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

and my reward with my God.”

And now the LORD says,

who formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him,

and that Israel might be gathered to him,

for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength–

he says,

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to restore the survivors of Israel;

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters, not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of human birth.  But God chose what was foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Psalm 71:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In you, O LORD, I take refuge,

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,

my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have learned from my birth;

it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all day long.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;

do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me,

and those who watch for my life consult together.

They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,

for there is no one to deliver.”

O God, do not be far from me;

O my God, make haste to help me!

John 12:37-38, 42-50 (New Revised Standard Version):

Although he [Jesus] had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.  This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“Lord, who has believed our message,

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Then Jesus cried aloud:  “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.  I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  The one rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

OR

Mark 11:15-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then they [Jesus and his Apostles] came to Jerusalem.  And he entered the temple and began to drive out all those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of thieves.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.  And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The Collect:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Being a light to the nations entails certain risks.  This is a divine mandate for the Hebrews:  to assume the responsibilities, not just the privileges, of being the Chosen people.   Yet post-exilic Judaism developed some exclusive, legalistic, and xenophobic tendencies.  Jesus disapproved of these, and certain religious authorities despised him.  He understood where some competing traditions of his faith community had gone wrong.

Before we continue, let us eschew anti-Semitism or even a hint of it.

The reason for changing money at the temple was religious.  Devout pilgrims pilgrims purchased sacrificial animals.  Yet Roman currency bore the image of the emperor, whom many considered semi-divine.  Thus Roman coins were technically idols.  So some businessmen converted Roman coinage to non-idolatrous currency which people could purchase sacrificial animals.  They did this for a price and for profit.  They exploited the devout poor, the high priest Caiaphas profited, too, and Jesus knew all of this.  These facts explain his righteous indignation.

Religion should be an instrument of liberation, not exploitation.  And too often religion becomes what Karl Marx called the “opiate of the masses.”  (Marx was correct about some details.)  The Book of Exodus tells of how God freed the Hebrews from slavery.  Over time some expressions of Judaism created many elaborate laws, which only the professional religious persons could keep.  Jesus opposed these legalistic manacles.  And, unfortunately, many Christian sects and denominations have forged new legalistic manacles while praising the name of Jesus.

When will we ever learn?  Will we ever learn?  Or do we doom ourselves?

The relevant truth for this discussion is that we can do nothing to merit the love and affection of God or to make ourselves worthy of God.  Yet God loves us profusely.  Nevertheless, many of us scurry around while trying to assuage God.  We have received some timeless rules, such as loving God fully and loving our neighbors as ourselves–the summary of divine law.  If we focus on the big picture most of the details will fall into place.  Yet many of us focus on the details and violate the spirit of the law.

And we repeat this pattern.

God has spoken repeatedly.  Numerous Hebrew prophets spoke.  Then Jesus came.  May we listen and comprehend.  Then may we act accordingly.

KRT

Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 16

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Monday in Holy Week   1 comment

“In your light we see light.”–Psalm 36:9b

Image Source = AutoCCD

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March 26, 2018

April 15, 2019

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Isaiah 42:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations,

He will not cry or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

a bruised reed he will not break,

and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring for justice.

He will not grow faint or be crushed

until he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people upon it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the LORD, that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth,

I tell you of them.

Hebrews 11:29-12:3 (New Revised Standard Version):

Note:  The Prayer Book states that the reading begins with 11:39, but I have backed it up to 11:29. My practice is to extend readings sometimes, but never to abbreviate them.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.  By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.  By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

And what more should I say?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets–who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raising fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  Women received their dead by resurrection.  Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented–of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

Psalm 36:5-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your judgments are like the great deep;

you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,

and your salvation to the upright of heart!

John 12:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom had raised from the dead.  They gave a dinner for him.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him.  Mary took a pound of costly perfume made from pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”  (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; the kept the common purse and used to steal what was put in it.)  Jesus said, “Leave her alone.  She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.  You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

OR

Mark 14:3-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Note:  The Prayer Book lists the reading from Mark as 14:3-9, but I have extended this by two verses.

While he [Jesus] was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.  But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way?  For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.”  And they scolded her.  But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her?  She has performed a good service for me.  For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.  Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.  When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money.  So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find int none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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I note the two options for the Gospel reading.  Clearly these are variations on the same story, for they are quite similar.  Yet they contain discrepancies with regard to minor details.  This fact does not trouble me, for I am not a Biblical literalist.  I have read the Bible too closely to think of the book as inerrant or infallible.

One needs to avoid a basic error in logic.  Often people mistake accuracy for truth.  Truth, in the Biblical sense, is that which is reliable.  So, what is the truth common to John 12:1-11 and Mark 14:3-11?  Whether the woman was Mary of Bethany or an unnamed female does not matter.  Whether she anointed Jesus’ head or feet is irrelevant.  Whether this happened at the home of Simon the leper or at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in unimportant.  Let us look at the proverbial forest, not the trees.

Jesus recognized the love behind the woman’s gesture and accepted both.  And he knew that his critic(s) operated from cynicism and self-interest, not humanitarian interests.  A denarius was one day’s wage, so nard ointment worth 300 denarii was truly extravagant.

In God’s light we see light.  In the person of Jesus we see God.  And God is love.  Throughout history people have committed atrocities, betrayed innocent people (including Jesus), and condoned inhumane deeds in the name of God.  Current and recent events indicate that this pattern continues.  In this context, a simple, loving, and extravagant anointing of Jesus, which is inherently beautiful, seems more lovely.

May we recognize and applaud beautiful acts of love toward God, and commit some of these, too.  Such love is true.

KRT

Posted March 26, 2010 by neatnik2009 in April 15

Tagged with

Feast of the Pioneering Female Episcopal Priests, 1974 and 1975 (July 28)   6 comments

Above:  The Eight Surviving Members of the Philadelphia Eleven

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In 1974 and 1975 fifteen women shattered the stained-glass ceiling and forced a morally correct change in the ordination policies of The Episcopal Church.

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Within the past three years I heard the following anecdote:  Someone asked a young Roman Catholic female how many sacraments there are.  She answered,

That depends on whether you are a boy or a girl.

I am glad to report that Episcopalians have equal access to all seven sacraments without regard to their XX or XY chromosomes.

Prior to 1970 women could not serve as delegates to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.  That year the denomination redefined Deaconesses as ordained members of the Sacred Order of Deacons.  Three years later the General Convention almost opened the priesthood and the episcopate to women, except for a parliamentary procedure.

On July 29, 1974, at the Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, three bishops conducted eleven “irregular” ordinations.  These were “irregular” because the ordinands were women (all deacons, by the way) who lacked the recommendations of their bishops and diocesan standing committees for ordination.  These eleven women became the first female Episcopal Priests, the “Philadelphia Eleven.”

The three bishops were Daniel Corrigan (retired from the Diocese of Colorado), Robert L. DeWitt (resigned from the Diocese of Pennsylvania), and Edward R. Welles II (retired from the Diocese of West Missouri).  These men, who had devoted many years of their careers to social justice, considered the ordination of women consistent with this inclination.  Welles, for example, had supported the ordination of women since at least 1928.  A fourth bishop, Jose Antonio Ramos, diocesan of Costa Rica, was present and supportive, yet did not ordain anyone.

The Philadelphia Eleven were:

  1. Merrill Bittner
  2. Alison Cheek
  3. Alla Bozarth-Campbell
  4. Emily C. Hewitt
  5. Carter Heyward
  6. Suzanne R. Hiatt (died in 2002)
  7. Marie Moorefield (Fleischner from 1980)
  8. Jeannette Piccard (died in 1981)
  9. Betty Bone Schiess
  10. Katrina Welles Swanson (died in 2006)
  11. Nancy Hatch Witting

Laywoman Barbara Clementine Harris (later the first female bishop, in 1989) participated in the service.  And Professor Charles V. Willie of Harvard University, delivering the sermon, likened that day’s events to African Americans refusing to sit at the back of the bus anymore.   (It was an accurate analogy.)

Prior to the service Presiding Bishop John Maury Allin, who opposed the ordination of women, asked the 79-year-old Jeannette Piccard, a widow and former aviatrix, not to go through with the rite.  Speaking as perhaps only a grandmother could, she replied,

Sonny, I’m old enough to have changed your nappies.

Two weeks after the Philadelphia service, at an emergency meeting at O’Hare International Airport, the House of Bishops (by a vote of 129 to 9, with 8 abstentions) declared these ordinations invalid.

Two priests, Peter Beebe (of the Diocese of Ohio) and William Wendt (of the Diocese of Washington) permitted some of the Philadelphia Eleven to function as priests in their parishes.  For this these men faced disciplinary actions in their dioceses.

Then, on September 7, 1975, at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C. (William Wendt’s parish), George W. Barrett,, retired Bishop of Rochester, ordained the Washington Four.  They were:

  1. Alison Palmer
  2. Eleanor “Lee” McGee
  3. Elizabeth “Betty” Rosenberg (Powell)
  4. Diane Tickell

Presiding Bishop John Maury Allin, who opposed the ordination of women, asked that bishops involved in “irregular” ordinations face no church judicial consequences.  So the House of Bishops censured these men and “decried” Bishop Barrett’s actions.

The 1976 General Convention approved the ordination of women as priests and bishops.  The following year, the Church accepted the fifteen “irregularly” ordained female priests.

In 1977 many church conservatives, opposing various Episcopal reforms, including the draft proposed 1976 Prayer Book (better known afterward as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) and the ordination of women, gathered at St. Louis.  Out of this congress came the Anglican Church of North America (distinct from the newer Anglican Church in North America).  The 1978 ACNA broke up over the next few years, with the Province of Christ the King going its way in 1978, the Diocese of the Southeast departing in 1979, the United Episcopal Church of North America leaving in 1980, and the Diocese of the Southwest breaking away in 1982. The remnant calls itself the Anglican Catholic Church.

(Note: The best book on the subject of breakaway Episcopalians is Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, by Douglas Bess, a priest of one of those communions.  The Tractarian Press of Riverside, California, publishes this volume.  My critique is this:

  1. Bess has done extensive research.
  2. An index would be nice.
  3. A list of abbreviations would help, too.
  4. An excellent proofreader would be a good idea.
  5. His writing is clear.

And what happened to the fifteen pioneering female priests?

  1. Most of them served in parishes and/or as chaplains.
  2. Carter Heyward and Suzanne R. Hiatt began teaching at Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1975.  Heyward retired in 2006.  Hiatt retired in 1998 and died in 2002.  In 2004 EDS made the first appointment to the Suzanne R. Hiatt Professorship in Feminist Pastoral Theology and Church History.
  3. Emily C. Hewitt, Assistant Professor of Religion and Education at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts, graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 1978.  From 1978 to 1993 she practiced law at the Hill and Barlow firm, Boston.  Then she became General Counsel to the U.S. General Services Administration, leaving that post in 1998 to become a judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  In 2009 she became Chief Judge of that court.
  4. Eleanor McGee retired as Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Yale Divinity School in 2006.
  5. As a girl Katrina Welles knew she had a vocation to the priesthood.  Decades later, at Philadelphia, in 1974, her father was one of the bishops ordaining the first female priests.  By then she was Katrina Welles Swanson, wife of Father George Swanson, an Episcopal priest.  As a priest Katrina insisted that her parishioners call her by her first name.  The Apostles did not have fancy titles, she said, so why should she?  She died in 2006, survived by her husband, children, and brother.

Today women do not sit at the back of the proverbial church bus.  We (as a body) should never have made them sit back there.

The ordination of women has always been a given in my mind.  Growing up as a United Methodist “PK” in the South Georgia Annual Conference, I encountered female clergy and thought nothing of it.  The fact that people debate the issue strikes me as being ridiculous.

Yet I recall an example from 1989.   My father had received an appointment to another two churches, the Alapaha and Glory congregations in Berrien County.  His successor at the Berlin-Wesley Chapel Charge in Colquitt County was to be a woman.  Most opposition to her came from frustrated housewives, not men.  Luanne became a beloved pastor of those two churches.

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Lord Jesus Christ, in whom there in no longer male or female,

Jew or Gentile, slave or free person:

We thank you for the pioneering female Episcopal priests of 1974 and 1975.

May their examples of faithfulness and their overcoming of difficulties encourage all

who encounter discrimination and open the eyes of all who

perpetuate or support discrimination in your Church.

In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Galatians 3:19-29

Psalm 84

Matthew 27:55-61, 28:1-10

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2010 

THE FEAST OF CARL SYLVIUS VOLKNER AND MOKOMOKO

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Modified on July 28, 2017 Common Era

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UPDATE

In 2015 the General Convention of The Episcopal Church approved a revised calendar of saints, published the following year as A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations.

In that volume one finds a new commemoration germane to this post.  That feast is for the “First Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in The Episcopal Church, 1974,” set at July 29.  The Rite II collect for the occasion follows:

O God, you poured your Spirit from on high to bless and summon these women,

who heard the strength of your call:  Equip, guide, and inspire us with

wisdom, boldness, and faith to trust you in all circumstances,

hear you preach new life to your Church, and stretch out our hands to serve you,

as you created us and redeemed us in the name of Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, everlasting.  Amen.

KRT

July 28, 2017

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