Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Easter!

So, you probably thought I missed it, didn't you? I didn't change the blog last Sunday for Easter. Well, like Holy Saturday ... that day between Jesus' death and resurrection when it's not yet Easter, we have one week between our Easter celebration and our Orthodox brothers and sisters. They celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, April 12. So, while I'm a little late in declaring Easter greetings for my friends in the Western Church, I'm a little early for my friends in the  Eastern Church.

This Easter date debate has been going on for centuries and has many complexities to sift and sort through in order to understand it. Easter is a movable feast, meaning it's never on the same date every year. The date is set according to the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This seems rather straightforward, right? Well, it appears there is question as to how to define "vernal equinox" and "full moon", and from where those things are observed. (Eastern Church holds that Jerusalem should be the observation point as that is where Jesus was crucified and rose again.) Then, there is the question as to whether the date for Easter should fall after Passover?
Add to the mix that the Western Church uses the Gregorian Calendar and the Eastern Church uses the Julian Calendar. OK, so it's going to take a little more than sifting and sorting ... so here's my take ...

No matter where we stand to observe the movements of our natural world, no matter where we stand on how we count days, we stand on this side of the Cross and Empty Tomb. We are Easter People. (Thank you to my friends in the Adirondacks for this new view of who we are with and in Christ!) We celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord every day. Yes, we especially remember our resurrection life in Christ on Easter Day, but let's not quibble over the specific date. Let's make every date a reason to celebrate our Risen Lord.

Alleluia? Oh, yes. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Triduum - Three Holy Days of Waiting

Triduum. Oh, that Latin. In simple language ... meaning English, American at that ... it means three days. But, what three days! It begins with the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday travels through the Crucifixion of Good Friday and explodes in glory with Easter Sunday. Wait. We skipped Holy Saturday. Well, you're right. But, count in the way of the Hebrews: Thursday evening to Friday evening = Day 1; Friday evening to Saturday evening = Day 2; Saturday evening to Sunday = Day 3. So, I could say that it explodes in the glory of the resurrection on Saturday at sun-down, the beginning of the 3rd Day ... but it was in the dawn of the 3rd day that it was witnessed by the women going to the tomb. For these 3 Days we wait, we watch, we pray ... with hope and assurance. How can that be?

On Maundy Thursday we looked to Jesus with great anticipation. We sat with Jesus and his disciples around the Passover Table remembering the salvation of the Jews from the bondage and slavery in Egypt. As the evening wore on we discovered that Jesus is The Passover Lamb ... God's final act of salvation to save us from the bondage and slavery of sin. And, we discovered two things about ourselves during that meal: that we are the ones who betrayed Him ... but that He loves us anyway and wants us to love and serve one another as He loves and serves us. Is this the Glory you spoke of Jesus? How can that be?

This morning we awoke to learn of the unjust accusations, the hasty trial, further betrayals, the scorn, the ridicule, the horror ... the horror! We awoke to learn that the Son of God, very Life Himself ... is lifted up, high upon a Cross ... to die. Is this the glory of the Father that Jesus told us about during Passover? Is this the Glory you spoke of Jesus? How can it be?

This afternoon He will be laid in the tomb. And, the tomb will be sealed with a stone. All that is Light from which all light comes ... will be laid in darkness. But, in Him there is no darkness. In Him is Light! In Him is Life! Darkness cannot conquer the Light. Death cannot conquer Life. It Light and Life cannot be defeated. Is this the Glory you spoke of Jesus? How can it be?

Friday evening to Saturday evening ... this is the longest day, the most difficult day. The heavy crushing stone seals the tomb. Creation has stopped breathing. The angels are silent. We wait. We watch. We pray. Where is the Glory you spoke of Jesus? You said that you will rise up on the third day ... but how can it be?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dying to Live

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12.24

Not only is this true but it is VERY true ... truly, no REALLY TRULY ... Jesus said.  Strangely enough this "truly" truth has been coming to my mind repeatedly over the last few days. Dying to gain life.

Miriam Rockness posted about this same topic on her blog about Lilias Trotter. Through the death of the seed comes the promised fruit of life. Lilias wrote,  "'Death is the gate of life.'  Does it look so to us?  Have we learnt to go down, once and again, into its gathering shadow in quietness and confidence, knowing that there is always 'a better resurrection' beyond?" - Parables of the Cross
I sat with that thought for some time before reading the rest of the post. ... Have we learnt to go down, once and again, into death's gathering shadow in quietness and confidence, knowing there is always "a better resurrection" beyond? 

Jesus went to the cross once for all time. He went down to death's shadow ... in quietness and confidence, knowing the resurrection beyond was infinitely better! He did this that one time on the cross ... on the hill called Golgotha (the place of the skull - death!) outside of Jerusalem (city of peace - shalom). He did this for us. He did this so that we could know with confidence that through death comes life. Through dying to self comes shalom ... that which is infinitely better! We reap the fruit of Jesus' death. We reap life ... infinitely better life ... from death. But, in order to do so we must die to self ... once and again ... with confidence so that we may reap the fruit of peace - shalom, well-being.

Our journey of Lent draws near to the cross ... to death, death of all that we have struggled against and with on this journey. As we walk through this week, let us do so in quietness and confidence, knowing there is better resurrection coming ... resurrection to life!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hosanna, LORD, Hosanna!"

Palm Sunday. The people making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Thousands of Jews walk the roads. And, then they see Jesus ... one they know has given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strong legs to the paralyzed, and restored limbs to the diseased. And, just a week ago ... brought Lazarus back to life. Four days dead! And, now Lazarus lives.

They see Jesus on a donkey ... and Zechariah begins to speak ...
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold! Your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey... 
Could it be? Right now? Right here? Before our eyes? Our Messiah has come! Save us, Lord, save us! Jesus! Our Messiah!"

And, the crowds go wild! People run into the fields and gather branches. They lay them before Jesus, wave them in the air and declare, "Hoshiya-na! Lord, hoshiya-na! Save us! Lord, save us!"

As you say those words today in the liturgy of the Table ... think of yourself in the crowd calling to your King. No, not like the first picture ... pretty as it is ... but more likely like the ones after.* And, then reflect ... will you be like those on that day who in four days will cry out "Crucify him!" ... or will you stand at the Cross with a heart overflowing with ... I can't find words for it ... joyful grief? ... that your King is come. Jesus, Messiah is come with righteousness and salvation for all who believe on His Name.
Hoshiya-na, Lord! Hoshiya-na!

*It was probably more like the middle two pictures but I love the last one.