Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday: The Day of Resurrection

Acts of the Apostles 10: 34a, 37-43, Psalm 118, Colossians 3: 1-4, 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8,
John 20: 1-9

On this Easter Day, the Day of the Resurrection of Our Lord, how will Jesus appear to you?

In John’s gospel, the beloved disciple believed when he saw the spice-laden strips of linen lying scattered about in the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. Mary Magdalene recognized him and believed when she heard him speak her name, “Mary.” Other disciples believed when they saw Jesus’ hands and side, recognizing the scars of the crucifixion. Thomas believed when Jesus allowed him to touch and feel the scars.

Sight, sound, and touch – human senses encountering evidence of a divinely transformed life. These are the very same senses we bring to the worship of God in the Eucharist on this Easter Day. We gaze at the sunlit altar linen, hear the familiar words of the prayers and hymns, smell the burning candles, and hold and taste the bread and the wine – all human experiences of a divine event.

Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist to offer his loving reconciliation in the midst of brokenness – a brokenness he has shared intimately with us in his life on earth. This is his triumph over the powers of death: that Love prevails and Creation is restored.

Look around, you will see the face of Christ everywhere, and recognize him in the simplest gestures – eating bread, drinking wine, a familiar name spoken, a handclasp with a stranger speaking the words “Peace be with you.” And Jesus will be known to others through your own places of hurt and healing, when you allow them to see and touch these scars.

Rejoice! He is indeed risen, as he said! How will Jesus appear to you today?

The Rev. Dr. Ann Willms

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Isaiah 42: 5-7, Psalm 16: 8-11 , 1 Peter 3: 18-20, Matthew 27: 50-53

When I was a small child in church I got chills whenever we would recite the part of the Apostles’ Creed that proclaimed Jesus went to Hell. Stop and listen to those words: “He descended into hell."

Did the adults know what they were saying?

It was not until the fifth decade of my life that I began to understand the line. And when I did it was one of those amazing moments of clarity. I had arrived at Holy Saturday, a day that is crucial to understanding the relationship that all of humanity – indeed, all of creation – has with the Risen Christ of Easter.

On Good Friday, the first day of Easter, Jesus dies on the Cross. Holy Saturday, the second day, is when Jesus opens the gates of Hell to let everyone out. On Holy Saturday, Jesus has robbed Hell of its power. Death is the enemy, and death is vanquished.

Without Holy Saturday, the resurrection of Jesus has very little to do with us. With Holy Saturday, we go with him. Holy Saturday is the fulcrum between the Cross and Easter.

Holy Saturday is a proclamation that no one, not even those who are already dead, is beyond Grace. The concept of Holy Saturday pushes us to reconsider the all-too-human urge to put limits on God’s mercy. On Holy Saturday, Jesus comes to find us in our deadest moments not just in the next world but also in this world.

Because of Holy Saturday, Jesus not only dies for us; Jesus dies with us, and he reveals himself as God-become-human, showing us a way to live without fear. Easter becomes not just about the One, but about all of us.

The Rev. James Richardson

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Isaiah 52: 13-53, 12 , Psalm 31, Hebrews 4: 14-16; 15: 7-9, John 18: 1-19, 42

In my Norwegian-American hometown, we learned to use the word “uffda.” The word has been uttered for years and years, passed down generations. It’s a semantic gift that gives expression to an array of feelings, from alarm to frustration. When no other word seems to suffice, we rely on “uffda” as an audible outlet for feelings hard to articulate. A stuck salsa jar top, “uffda.” Slick roads, “uffda.” Someone diagnosed with a serious disease, “uffda.”

Psalm 31 helps articulate feelings dark with despair and dread. The psalm provides the people of God with a means to express their discontent. It is a song of deep suffering, a hymn of desolation that Jesus learned in Nazareth. His community used it in dark times.

At the moment of his greatest despair, Jesus uttered the words of Psalm 31 to articulate his torment: “I am the scorn of my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors ... For I hear the whispering of many – terror all around! – as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.” On Good Friday, on the cross, when all seemed lost, when there was little hope, Jesus cried out, “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” In the midst of suffering, Jesus gave himself to God, the “rock of refuge.”

Today, the Holy Spirit leads us to the distress of the cross. We dive into the depths of Jesus’ misery and meet human misery face to face. There is no ignoring the suffering of the world; we see it now as the torment of God. But we have been given words to articulate our pain and a savior who suffers it. Confronting our planet’s violence and degradation, we can speak the language of the cross. And with its words, we articulate the world’s redemption

The Rev. Neal Halvorson-Taylor

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14, Psalm 116, 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26, John 13: 1-15

The word “Maundy” has the same root as command, mandatory, mandate. In Exodus, the Lord commands Moses and Aaron to order the people to prepare the Seder meal. It is mandatory that the meal be prepared a certain way and they are mandated to dress as for a journey.

In the gospel of John, Jesus takes the role of a servant, and washes the feet of his disciples. Then he orders them to do the same: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Washing, bathing, eating, drinking - thoughtlessly we daily perform these actions. Our attention is directed to the radio, the TV, the internet, a myriad of distractions.

The scriptures call us to stop; to pay attention to these ordinary functions; to make them sacred; to make them into sacraments. Dinner becomes a holy meal: “…share the lamb with their nearest neighbor…it is the Lord’s Passover.” Mindfulness and attention to detail put us into God’s presence and protection.

We wash our feet daily. We wash the feet and whole body of our children, our elderly parents, even our pets. But on this day we stop—pay attention to washing as an act of love and an act of service. The ordinary again is made sacred by our careful attention, our intention to be of service to others.

From today’s Psalm 116:

I love the Lord, for he has heard my voice…The Lord protects the simple hearted…be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you…How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of all his people.

David Slezak