Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43 John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher) . . . Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
John 20:1-18

At first she thought he was the gardener.

So it was on that first Easter morning: The ugliness of death had been swept away and Mary Magdalene was the first to understand.

Jesus had gone to the Cross not to satisfy a bloodthirsty God, but to descend with us into the worst moments of pain a human could suffer and take that pain upon himself. And he did so to show us how to live without fear and bring us to hope and wholeness.

Beginning with Mary Magdalene, those who first experienced the Risen Christ began to understand the real meaning of Jesus’ life -- and the real meaning of their own lives. They continued to write the story of the Risen Christ in the way they lived afterwards.

This story is also our story. We continue to write the story of the Risen Christ by how we live our lives.

This way of life is not just about the afterlife that we cannot yet see. This is also about how we live right now, here, today and tomorrow. Salvation does not wait until the next life. Salvation comes right now.

May this Easter bring you many blessings; may you live in the hope of the salvation that is yours forever.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The Rev. James Richardson

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-241 Peter 4:1-8Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42


In the fullness of time,
God spoke the Word
into a woman.

The Word came to know
her blood,
her warmth,
her voice.
She held him nine months
and brought him forth
for the revealing of hearts
and the piercing of her soul.

When he was rejected, scorned, killed,
the earth received him
into her arms.

The Word came to know
her stone,
her cold,
her silence.
She held him three days
and breathed him forth
for the redeeming of the world
and the tearing of the veil.

Knowing woman, knowing earth,
the Word speaks truth
with tenderness: Love one another.

The Rev. Dr. Ann Bagley Willms

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Psalm 22 Isaiah 52:13-53:12Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9John 18:1-19:42

Everybody has a story to tell. But, more profoundly, every body tells a story. Even before a person begins to develop a story about who they are, their body has already begun to bear their story. From birth -- the moment their body is distinct from their mother’s body -- a person carries in and on their body the story of their inheritance. And not long after birth, that body begins learning language by which their story is expanded beyond the body and brought into the broader matrix of stories. The flesh becomes word.

However, in Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh. For the story of Jesus Christ is not just the embodied story of the son of Mary, but also the eternal Story of the Son of God, through whom and for whom the Father speaks the story of all Creation (Colossians 1:16). Therefore, the story of the invisible, triune God is revealed in the embodied story of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Gospel. But in the gospel texts that story changes as it approaches the cross. He whose words bring life is muted (Isaiah 53:7; Mark 14:61). As the passion story unfolds, the narrative overtakes Jesus and constricts around his body and its pain.

The Word is nailed to the flesh irrevocably. The point of the crucifixion was the silencing of the story through the obliteration of the body. The goal was not simply death, but the complete eradication of the body (which made crucifixion one of Rome’s three Supreme Penalties). The powers and principalities of this world destroy the body and extinguish the story of Jesus of Nazareth, co-opting the cry of dereliction (Mark 15:34) into their story of violence and domination. With a loud cry (Mark 15:37), the Word is exhausted; the peaceable story, silenced.

The Rev. Nik Forti

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Psalm 116:1, 10-17 Exodus 12:1-141 Corinthians 11:23-26John 13:1-17, 31b-35

“Why is this night different from all other nights?” The youngest child at a Passover Seder asks this question early in the Jewish annual ritual commanded in Exodus 12 that commemorates God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

Christians might well ask the same question of Maundy Thursday. In the accounts of the first three gospels, on this same Passover night Jesus shares his last supper with disciples using language and gestures that echo the Passover ritual while transforming it into what we recognize today as the sacrament of Holy Communion.

John 13, however, presents a dramatically different scene. Although the text does not say that the “supper” mentioned was the Passover meal, Christians through the ages have interpreted it that way. Instead of doing anything with bread and wine on “this night,” Jesus performs a ritualistic action that the lowliest of servants, a slave, carries out upon people’s arrival at a house: he washes his disciples’ feet.

Then, Jesus tells his disciples that they are to follow his example and wash each other’s feet—like him, they and we are to become servants. Just as the Passover brought a liberated people of God into being, Jesus’ feetwashing brings God’s people as a servant people into being.

Why is this night different from all other nights? Perhaps it is the night when Jesus calls us to a life of discipleship that follows not only the way of the cross articulated in the Eucharist, but also the way of the servant epitomized in the taking up of the basin and towel, leading us to be the liberated people of God, too. “O Lord, I am your servant . . . ,” the Psalmist declares, “You have loosed my bonds.”

The Rev. Heather Warren

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday of Holy Week

Psalm 70Isaiah 50:4-9aHebrews 12:1-3John 13:21-32

Today, the betrayal of Judas is revealed, therefore foreshadowing the crucifixion of Jesus.

In the reading from John, Jesus does not accuse Judas; instead, he discreetly speaks to him: “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Jesus understood how this disciple would respond to the authorities seeking Jesus. Yet, I believe that even after this confrontation, Judas could have refused to betray his Master.

I want to think that I would not betray my friends, much less my teacher or my God. Yet I know that even Peter, the Rock, will deny Christ three times.

  • In what ways do I betray myself, others, and my faith in my daily life?

  • How do I deny the power of God in my life?

  • What must I do to live in harmony with my better self and in intimacy with God?

The Psalmist helps me to begin to tackle these issues by asking God “not to tarry” but to hasten to help and deliver me.

Isaiah affirms the ways God can help me to live a godly life through listening to God and helping others through my understanding.

Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, urges Christians to see how Jesus can help in these endeavors: “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 joy that was set before him endured the cross . . . and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Dear God, help me to reflect on my need for Christ as my guide to persevere in understanding myself and others, to resist the temptations to betray myself and others, and to face with joy the life I have.

Kay Slaughter

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday of Holy Week

Psalm 71:1-14Isaiah 49:1-71 Corinthians 1:18-31John 12:20-36

As I read the Scripture passages assigned for today, John 12:24 is the verse that drew me back to it again and again:
Unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain: but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.
New Jerusalem Bible
This reminded me of an anthem which a college classmate of mine, Natalie Sleeth, had composed.


In the bulb there is a flower; In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise; Butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, Something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, Bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; What it holds, a mystery.
Unrevealed until its season, Something God alone can see. 
In our end is our beginning; In our time, infinity.
In our doubt there is believing; In our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; At the last, a victory.
Unrevealed until its season; Something God alone can see.

Betty Kerner

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday of Holy Week

Psalm 36:5-11Isaiah 42:1-9Hebrews 9:11-15John 12:1-11

How infinite is our God, who created the universe not ex nihilo but out of himself. Therefore, God is in all creation including each of us. To respond to this “Divine Indwelling” we must search for the meaning of who we are, and God’s call to us; then respond in gratitude. God chose to come into our world by taking on the mantle of our humanity, with all its frailties and brokenness, inviting us to “take refuge in the shadow of his wings.” Through the gift of Jesus, God invites us to look deep within ourselves and to realize our unity, not only with all of humanity, but in all of creation with God as its center. It is in this circle of unity that we will find wholeness, not in our separateness. Through his sacrifice, Jesus invites us to share in his humanity, through his resurrection he invites us to share in his divinity. How radiant is our God, in whose light we see light!

Each year we approach Holy Week seeking new insights into the momentous events that occurred then. The passage describing Mary anointing the feet of Jesus is, to me, one of the most enigmatic. Why did she choose nard (spikenard), an herbal ointment used in palliative care, the embalming process, and to help ease the transition from life into death. Emotionally, it was reserved for deep-seated grief. Mary seemed to have had prophetic and/or intuitive vision. Jesus certainly knew his death was imminent and perhaps he had shared this knowledge with her? Many scholars believe that this was Mary Magdalene, “watchtower of the flock,” apostle to the apostles. It may well have been so.

As we enter into Holy Week and the glory of Easter, may we fully realize the grace of God’s whole and infinite gift to us!

Nancy E. Brockman