Holding On

April 12, 2020

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

Easter Sunday – Year A
Matthew 28:1-10

A Day of Mourning

April 11, 2020

Holy Saturday                             

For the disciples, today was a day of mourning. A day of confusion. A day of bewilderment.

Each scattered and apart from one another. Each, perhaps, reflecting on the meal they had with Jesus just a couple of days earlier. Trying to remember what he said.

Did he say “Take this in remembrance of me”? It seemed odd at the time. A bit dramatic. But now? No. Now, I understand. Now, it makes sense.

He must have realized that his message of love was too radical for the religious authorities to abide. His willingness to eat with those on the margins, to have compassion and care for the outsider, his example, even command, to tear down boundaries that divide people, revealing God’s love and grace comes in many forms and expressions. That “love your neighbor” isn’t only for those who look like us, believe like us, love like us. “Neighbor” is everyone, even our adversaries. Well, that was just too radical.

I can’t believe he’s really gone. My teacher. My friend.

He said “remember me.”

By tomorrow many of the disciples will have made their way back to one another, but today, they are scattered. Today, they each begin to navigate the journey of grief. There’s no hope of resurrection in their minds; in their hearts. Only loss.

We know and anticipate the rest of the story. But today…

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Palm Sunday – The Passion of Christ (Year A)

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:36-27:66

We’ve finally arrived at Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. While using the word “Passion” may seem unusual, the Latin root of this word is passio, which means “suffering.”

Palm Sunday is a sensory overload. When I attended Emmaus House Chapel, Claiborne Jones, the vicar, would say “It’s the day of the church year when we do everything that we don’t do any other time.” And there is some truth to that.

And you have to admit, the Passion story makes a powerful centerpiece. The dramatic reading of the Passion of Christ brings it more fully to life. Yet, as we heard it today, just now, we must understand its purpose on this day – which is to provide an Overture, if you will, for Holy Week.

gone-with-the-wind-1939

gone-with-the-wind-1939

The Overture is that musical score at the very beginning of a musical, before the curtain goes up or during the opening credits, that weaves together small portions of various songs that will be part of the overall story.

For those who have seen the musical before, when they hear the Overture it brings to mind the context of each of the songs, drawing the audience in, heightening their anticipation of what is to follow. But, it doesn’t capture the whole story – you still have to watch the scenes that follow to get the full experience.

Similarly, the Passion story of Palm Sunday is like an Overture. It’s an overview of the story – the story that we will be participating in more fully throughout Holy Week.

For much of Christian history Holy Week was a time when people went to church every day of the week. In more recent times, there would be more active participation at least during the Triduum – which are the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Yet even participation in these three days occurs less and less often, crowded out by busy schedules.

Consequently, Passion Sunday becomes a sort of substitute for Holy Week. It’s a shame really. It’s like listening to the Overture of a musical and then leaving the theater – you miss so much.

So, today, I invite you to enter fully into Holy Week, particularly, the Triduum. It provides an opportunity to experience the Passion of Christ more fully, and in so doing, to prepare more completely for the miracle of the resurrection. Read the rest of this entry »

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