PALM/PASSION SUNDAY - REFLECTIONS ON PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11 AND MARK 15:1-39 BY REV. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered by
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Palm/Passion Sunday – 2021
Philippians 2: 5-11 & Mark 15:1-39
In places around the world today, people are celebrating an event that has come to be known by different names in various circles. Some call today Palm Sunday. This is due to the fact that on that fateful Sunday some 2000 years ago, our Lord came into Jerusalem riding a colt he was hailed by the people with waving and strewing palm branches accompanied with the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.”
The people we are told, were ready for that day.
They had been waiting for generation after generation, reminding themselves of God's promise to restore them.
They were waiting for the one person, God would send who would liberate and lead them into a new time, a new life, in which they would be free from the powers of this world.
Yesterday evening, our Jewish brothers and sisters; our forebears in the faith, entered into Pesach--Passover and began an eight-day celebration and remembrance of when with an outstretched arm and mighty hand, God delivered them from the power and stifling grip of Pharaoh. A time when they were led from death to life; slavery and bondage to freedom.
So too, do we enter into a Passover of sorts, when we remember that acts of salvation that freed us from death’s grip and won for us life eternal.
Yes, the people looked for the One would deliver them, and they would follow him into victory.
But as, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Victory is elusive and all-too-often the human triumphal entry, is soon to be forgotten like a ticker tape parade for human heroes.” Often times we are jubilant, celebrating and welcoming Jesus. But at other times, not so much.
But, the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into our sinfulness, can never be forgotten because, for it was the greatest sacrificial entry ever offered.
That’s why others will call today “The Sunday of the Passion.” For we remember that, marked the beginning of that Week of weeks, a week full of paradoxes. When, popular acclaim turned to public execution. You have to wonder if the same crowd of people who shouted Hosanna on Sunday, where the same who, like us, began to cry, "Crucify him!" on Friday?
It marked a time when Thorns would take the shape of a crown. When Jesus would be led to the gibbet of the Cross, and there "Sorrow and love would flow mingled down.”
So, what does today mark?
Today on this second Palm/ Passion Sunday in the time COVID. We recognized the vaccine is present and being distributed, the death rate is down. But we are still not out of the woods yet. There are still many of us who mourn the loss of loved ones. We mourn the loss of friends. We hold the two human tensions in mind. The celebration and the suffering; the here and the not here; That very real reality of the pains and the joys of life.
So, what does today mark? It marks the day when this community faith can once again enter those red doors and come together, after being separated for over year, to join with countless other believers around the world and symbolically enter into Jerusalem to recount the saving acts which wrought our salvation and guaranteed our entrance into that heavenly and new Jerusalem.
So, what does today mark? It marks the beginning of showing us that the flaws inherent in human nature haven't changed in two thousand years. For we will see just how many times the faithful can become fickle. How lovers can become betrayers. But, we can also see how the fearful become fearless and how life ends and new life begin.
So, what does today mark? Today, we remember the One who, according to the Epistle to the Philippians, achieved victory by "humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of a Cross."
Humility is at the heart and center of what we celebrate this week. The collect of the day says, “Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection.” There is no humility without humiliation. And it’s in the shadow of the Cross, we experience Jesus' mercy and we share in his ultimate triumph over death.
And it is in the shadow of that same Cross, then, we experience our turning around, our conversion, our repentance and our hope of resurrection life.
LENTEN REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 12:9-19 - THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY - SARAH-EMILY STEINHARDT, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
Ahhh, that high point of Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. To me, Lent always seems such a dark, somber season that this point in the church calendar was like a bright, shiny, feast and festival. Crowds. Parades. Shouting. Singing. The lush green of waving palms. Alleluias are banished all of Lent, and yet today “Hosanna!” is shouted. Very contrary to the rest of Lent, don’t you think? Jesus and his status are rising to an absolute ‘fever pitch’, just before things really go south in the days and moments to come. It almost feels like a spectacle, doesn’t it? Surely, many people were also curious about Lazarus, and that had to fuel the fire of the moment.
In this scripture, I’m caught on the fact that Jesus rode on the young donkey (baby, foal, colt), and did so to fulfill scripture. Do you know some scientists, scholars and theologians even argue that physically, a baby donkey wouldn’t have been able to hold the weight of a grown man? Consequently, some believe Jesus part rode, part levitated as he paraded into the city. Whoa. I wouldn’t doubt it, with the energy of the moment. The deeper meaning to me is how common and ‘un-special’ a donkey seems to be. We don’t have time to note and discuss all the times throughout scripture a donkey has been used in extraordinary, miraculous ways. Let’s be honest: A donkey doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of a majestic stallion, peacock, decorated elephant or exotic tiger. To me, that donkey he chose represents US. You and I. Common, regular, everyday folk. Messed up, doing the best we can. Poor, nothing fancy. A bunch of sorry asses. Yes, I said it – you can chuckle – I only meant donkeys, nothing foul. Hear me out, because here’s the thing - we’re chosen! Chosen by Jesus to usher him in triumphantly. Isn’t that the beauty and mystic nature of our faith and salvation? In our commonness, we are still chosen and used for something beautiful and powerful. I’m so grateful for the moment of the triumphant entry and that Jesus could have chosen anything, but chose a donkey.
Strengthen our faith, Lord! Allow our eyes to see YOU riding on the chosen donkey. Allow our voice to sing ‘Hosanna!’ to you – knowing that means ‘Save’ and ‘Rescue’. Thank you for the brightness of this moment leading up to death. Help us to enter more deeply into the mystery of your unconditional love, as we near Good Friday. Let your work and will be accomplished in our lives, Lord.
Submitted by Sarah-Emily Steinhardt, the Member Engagement Coordinator of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church.
Monastics in the Middle Ages celebrated Tenebrae at 2 AM (a combination of matins said at night and lauds said just before dawn) on each of the final three days of Holy Week. In 1955 to facilitate the participation of laypersons, each night’s Tenebrae in the Roman Catholic church was moved to the previous evening. Thus, Maundy Thursday’s Tenebrae was moved to the evening of Holy Wednesday. Betrayal was the former theme of Wednesday evening’s readings, although the assignment of specific readings, lamentations, and hymns to each Tenebrae is no longer practiced. Tenebrae begins with fifteen lit candles set on a triangular stand, or hearse. One candle is extinguished after each reading (nine during matins and five during lauds) until only one lit candle remains. Tenebrae’s name (literally, darkness) stems from the darkness at the service’s conclusion. The lit candle, symbolic of Christ, is hidden behind the altar to signify evil’s victory. A loud noise is made to symbolize the earthquake at Christ’s death. Before the congregation departs, the lit candle is replaced on the triangle’s top. This currently is associated with Christ’s resurrection, but it may have originally merely been a light for the departing congregation.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
BEFORE THE SPRING IS COMING - SERMON AND REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 12:20-33 - DR. MARK HEANEY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Sermon: Before the Spring is Coming
John 12: 20-33
As I am driving down the streets these days, two conflicting sights arise before my eyes. I see the broken trees, gnarly, torn and jagged. And then I see the grass, green in patches and still brown in others. I witness some shrubs beginning to leaf out, while others appear dead from the devastating winter freeze of only a few weeks ago. I gaze at hyacinths and daffodils bravely showing their new blossoms above the ground. I see all this and I wonder, “what will this spring truly be like.” Life and death, posing side by side, cause us to reflect. They call us to gather together these twin realities that always exist side by side, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not.
Jesus was at a turning point in his ministry. He had reached his final destination in Jerusalem and people were talking. Some foreigners were speculating, “Who is this Jesus we have been hearing about?” But, they didn’t just want to hear about him. They wanted to see him, face to face. So they turned to one of Jesus’ disciples, Phillip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip reported this to Andrew and Andrew and Philip together went to Jesus and told him about the request. That request seemed to go nowhere.
The scripture never tells us whether or not these seekers were able to meet with the one that they sought out. Instead, in the story we see Jesus reflecting upon the meaning of what was about to take place in his life and ministry. This was a turning point of such cosmic proportions, that the request for an audience by a few curiosity seekers paled in comparison. To illustrate this depth of meaning, Jesus first speaks a brief parable. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” It is not difficult to see that this parable is pointing the reader ahead to what is about to happen. We the reader already know that Jesus is preparing to make the slow and steady march toward the cross. John tells us that in this death he will be glorified. But it involves his death, nonetheless. And we all know, that coming face to face with death is never easy.
The theme of death and life is prominent in this passage. Jesus speaks about our human tendency to cling to life in this world. He tells his listeners that if we hold too tightly to the our earthly lives, we will lose the promise of eternal life. Jesus uses this profoundly simple parable to say that to be his follower is more than merely sitting and admiring him, as perhaps the Greek visitors wanted to do. Indeed, it is about serving him and following him on his journey. A journey which ultimately leads to a cross.
Jesus words are troubling for us to hear today. In the same way that it was troubling for Jesus’ psyche as he contemplated what he was facing in the coming days. He wondered to himself, should I ask my Father God to spare me from the agony that awaits? So, we too, are tempted to take the easy road of cheap grace and half-hearted discipleship. But Jesus was given an indication, expressed in John as a voice from heaven. This voice affirmed that there was a reason for his sacrifice. That by offering his life, by being lifted up (that is on the cross) all seekers would be able to see him. And, in that seeing, all would be drawn toward the life that endures. In this glorification, all humanity can see beyond the suffering of our present time and place, to a place of union and communion with him and all of his followers.
What or whom are you seeking? Are you looking to see Jesus in the midst of these troubling times? And if you are wanting to see Jesus, what does that mean anyway? I think this passage gives us a few clues about what seeking Jesus is and what it is not. I think it is quite clear that seeking Jesus is not an esoteric, philosophical pursuit. It is not seeking to gain intellectual knowledge. Perhaps this is what the Greek visitors to Jerusalem were all about. No, seeking Jesus is something much more embodied, much more visceral, much more active, much more real. It is something that not only involves our brains, but involves our hearts, our souls and our wills. Jesus said my psyche is troubled. In this he was saying that his very soul was troubled as he contemplated his coming days. His soul, the very seat of his affections and his will was troubled. The very breath of life which was within him, his self, his person was torn by the passions of his circumstances.
To seek Jesus in these troubling times is not to flex our strength, but to come face to face with our weaknesses. This passage is in no way about a triumphant, conquering Jesus. It is not of a salvific hero riding with sword drawn on a black stallion of victory. Those who die, those who lose, those who are raised up on a cross and killed are the ones who will be honored. They are the ones who in the end will find life. This passage is about God’s strength which is gained through vulnerability. It is about God’s power which comes through what appears to be weak in the world. It is about God’s justice which is pursued through love, mercy and forgiveness.
Where is it that we will see Jesus? Not in the strong and powerful, but in the meekness, humbleness and brokenness of this world. In order to see, the truth of dying to this world must be revealed. We are called in this truth to let go of the small visions we so stubbornly cling to and embrace the larger reality of God’s transformation of our world. We are called to faith. This is not a faith that desires us to be intellectual hairsplitters, but a faith that trusts that the realm of God is possible. It is a faith that God’s Kingdom does come on earth. It is a faith that humble love, gentle mercy and heartfelt sacrifice toward those around us is the good and proper way to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.” But do we really? For seeing Jesus involves gazing upon the cross of our vulnerability, our shame, our brokenness, our hurt, our mortality. Do we really want to see that? Do we really want to live in that reality? My day job, as it were, is as a pastoral psychotherapist. Sometimes that involves me in working with couples who are in conflict and potentially facing divorce. The statistics tells us that this is generally not a successful venture. But what I can say, is that sometimes through the process of coming together we are able to renew and restore broken relationships. What this process requires, I am convinced is that all three of us, myself included, must enter into a process of becoming vulnerable to one another. We must set aside our self-conceit, let go of the notion that we are right and the others are wrong. We must engage in the hard work of letting go of our certainties and listening to the truth of the other in our midst. I am truly happy to say that sometimes this process works. And, when it does you can feel a lightness in the air as old grievances and animosities are let go and love and compassion are released.
Perhaps for me, this is a glimpse of what it means to see Jesus. It is to see fellow companions on the human journey let go of old hurts, pains and animosities from the past. It is to see each other held in a common embrace of God’s love, compassion and mercy. Where in your life, might Jesus be waiting to greet you? Where might you see Jesus in these coming days. Let this be a question we ask ourselves, as we together make the journey to the cross and beyond to an open tomb.
I close with this poem from John M. C Crum:
Now the Green Blade Rises, by John M. C. Crum (1872-1958)
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love has come again, like wheat that springs up green.
In the grave they laid him, Love whom hate had slain;
Thinking that he never would awake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen;
Love has come again, like wheat that springs up green.
Up he sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He who for the three days in the grave had lain;
Raised from the dead, my living Lord is seen;
Love has come again, like wheat that springs up green.
When our hears are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Then your touch can call us back to life again.
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been;
Love has come again, like wheat that springs up green.
Dr. Mark Heaney, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Making the sign of the cross is a ritual request for a blessing made by many Christians. It is common to invoke the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simultaneously. Until the twelfth century, both the western and eastern churches made the sign of the cross similarly - from above to below and then from right to left. However, western churches gradually changed to a left to right pattern, which is our current Episcopal tradition. Pope Innocent III commented that the newer formula (from left to right) mimicked the passing from misery (left) to glory (right). Current Orthodox and Roman Catholic sources curiously argue that their opposite actions are responding to the motions of a priest’s blessing. Catholics note that the priest makes the sign of the cross over the people from left to right, and laypersons crossing themselves from left to right “imitate” the priest. Orthodox counter that parishioners are “mirroring” the priest by crossing themselves right to left. Orthodox bunch the larger two fingers and their thumb together to symbolize the trinity while the two smallest fingers are bent against the palm symbolizing Christ’s dual nature. Many Catholics use an open hand symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
LENTEN MEDITATION AND REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 9:14-29 BY JON WALLINGFORD, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The Pharisees were asking a lot of people who Jesus was, but not asking God. They were witnessing miracles; but searching the earthly realm for proof that they were not. While belief in God is a start, we have to remember that the Lord may not look or act as we expect. Let us not deny what the Lord has done and can do for fear of repercussion.
God, grant us the ability to discern what things in life are good from those that are evil. And the wisdom to pray when we cannot. Remind us as believers to bare witness to the blessings and miracles of the Lord. Amen.
Submitted by Jonathan Lynn Wallingford, who was born in Midwest City, OK. Jon has lived in Oklahoma for the majority of his life, growing up in the Assemblies of God Church. Jon and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, have two small children, Richard Dale (4 years) and John Virgil (6 months). Jon’s professional work is done primarily outside. He has worked as a residential framer, commercial construction and worked as a utility locator. Now Jon owns and operates a lawn care and landscaping company. Jonathan found the Episcopal Church while looking for a place to grow spiritually with his family after a long absence from attending church. He and his family have been attending St. Augustine of Canterbury since September 2019 and are very happy here. They plan to be members and continue attending services, in person or virtually.
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 3:7-8 - YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN - DR. NOEL JACOBS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
I have wrestled and wrestled with the term ‘born again’ since I was a child, first leaving the Episcopal church for a visit to my grandmother’s church, which was Southern Baptist. I did not know how very different the interpretation of scripture was from group to group! Coming back as an adult to my Anglican roots after significant journey, and after intentionally becoming part of a much broader interfaith community (that includes Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities, among others) I feel, ironically perhaps, that I have a much stronger grasp of the allusion to Spirit than I did when I was younger. I also feel I have a greater understanding of the term ‘born again.’ We know from other passages that love, kindness and patience, along with several other qualities, begin to emerge when someone is transformed by Spirit. And that process of being born a second time? I see and experience it as a quietly beautiful, sometimes painful, process of transformation in which we slowly let go of old ideas, old ways of thinking, old pains from this world that injures us at times, as we feel the peace of that Spirit moving through us like the wind, unseen but definitely there. And I am thankful for my ongoing process of rebirth.
Creator, You have always known what we need. While the world hurts us and also coaxes us into holding on to it tighter, You know how Your unseen wind, the Holy Spirit, can give us a new birth. Help us through this process, so we can show Your fruits and help transform the world around us with Love. Amen.
Submitted by Noel Jacobs, who has been a member of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church for over four years with his wife Anne and their twins Keegan and Felix. He enjoys making jewelry for his family and friends and traveling with his family. He is a child psychologist who serves kids going through treatment for chronic health issues, and has recently discovered a love of making films that are helpful for teaching and encouraging kids and families.
Many Christian feasts are associated with local traditions that make the feast unique to that region, and Lent is no exception. In Italy, holy water is passed out during Lent so that families can bless their homes. On a more gruesome note, some Philippine citizens actually endure a brief crucifixion on Good Friday. Many countries eliminate meat on Fridays during Lent, but in some countries beaver tail was considered “fish” since beavers live in water. On Bermuda, families fly kites made with wooden sticks on Good Friday to represent the cross on which Jesus died as well as his ascension. On Malta, some families visit 14 churches, with each church providing one of the Stations of the Cross. On Maundy Thursday in the Czech Republic, church bells fall silent, and children use wooden clappers to call villagers to services. In Bulgaria, the Lazarouvane festival is celebrated on the Saturday before Easter. Young girls walk through the village singing and decorating the village gates with willow twigs. If a young girl refuses to participate, tradition predicts that the girl will never marry. In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday”, and green foods such as salads and spinach are eaten.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
HOUSE CLEANING - A SERMON ON EXODUS 20:1-17 AND JOHN 2:13-22 - REV. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered
the Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
The Third Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021
Exodus 20:1-17 & John 2:13-22 “House Cleaning”
For thousands of years, human beings have called out people from their midst to speak to and of God in the community, to help the rest explore and face the mysteries of God.
But such religious leaders often create ways to control this. We build boxes – temples, churches – and say they’re the only places to meet God. Once God is well-boxed, we make theology about what God says and does, controlling God for the people.
We religious leaders, and, let’s be honest, many religious people in general, can be fiercely protective of our God-boxes, of our right to have the final say about God, to control access. It’s a huge temptation, and we don’t like being challenged about it.
The Temple in Jerusalem was just such a box, like all made by peoples throughout history. Its leaders controlled the God-message, and access to God, and taught that in this place alone the true God was found.
So Jesus challenges the way they’ve cared for this God-box.
They’ve made a market out of a holy place, he says. Necessary things for sacrifice in the Temple are bought and sold within. Lambs sold for sacrifice, money changed from Gentile currency to Hebrew, and religious folks are making a profit. And the Son of God will have none of it. This isn’t what the house of God is for, he says.
This challenge to their authority, the driving out of animals, spilling of coins, and unmistakable rebuke is – no surprise – not well received. We religious people don’t like that.
Jesus is saying in essence, It’s time to do a little “House cleaning.”
Dealing with the clutter isn’t anything new.
Isn’t that what Lent is all about?
A season to engage in a Spring cleaning. A yearly taking stock of what gets in the way.
Anything that gets in the way of God.
All of the gods that vie for our attention, clutter our minds and get in the way.
You shall have no others gods before me. So begins the Ten Commandments. No problem right. We’re monotheists. We believe in one God. We don’t worship a golden calf. Our sophisticated worldview keeps us from silly superstitions. No idols on our dashboards.
But are we being duped? Theologian Paul Tillich defines god as whatever we make our ultimate concern. Even if you don’t believe in a god, you have one. Or maybe, many.
Sometimes gods come garbed in modern costumes and are defined as the “isms” that permeate our lives: racism, sexism, classism, ageism, nationalism, heterosexism, consumerism, militarism. There are many, many gods to which we bow.
So, there seems to be plenty of clutter and chaos in the Temple and Jesus is full of righteous anger.
In essence Jesus says. The Lenten call to get our house in order. Not only our residences. But our communities, our churches, our temples.
Hardly anyone, disciples included, understood him at the time. But it was profound. If Israel met God at the Temple, the true Holy Place, with the Holy of Holies, now Jesus claims that he is the new Holy Place.
Jesus who is the intersection between God and humanity. God is now with us, in housed in human flesh, able to be loved, touched, embraced and embodied in Jesus.
He is the locus of God’s presence.
But beloved in Christ, understand that body – that temple – is also us, we are the body of Christ.
This is our baptismal promise, too: you are God’s temple, the Holy Spirit lives in you. We walk our journey of faith dripping wet from the waters of our baptism, reminded that we are not our own. You are not your own. God lives in you, and will transform your heart, and your actions and life as you live bearing God’s Spirit in the world.
Yes, because we follow Christ, we know that to be God’s Temple in the world is to risk everything for the sake of those whom God loves. To walk Christ’s path, to sacrifice with our love, our lives, our hearts, our hands. Amen.
~ Fr. Joseph Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 7:1-13 - LENTEN MEDITATION BY DEBRA KRAUSSE, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
After this, Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. No one works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If you do these things, manifest yourself to the world.” For his brothers did not believe in him. So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but the time is always right for you. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify to it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast because my time has not yet been fulfilled.” After he had said this, he stayed on in Galilee.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the feast and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable murmuring about him in the crowds. Some said, “He is a good man,” while others said, ”No, on the contrary, he misleads the crowd.” Still, no one spoke openly about him because they were afraid of the Jews. John 7:1-13
A feast! Celebration! It makes one want to be in on the joy! In our time, though, I can understand Jesus’ statement about the world being evil. We are dealing with events somehow inconceivable. Even though it is not Jesus’ time to be seen publicly, I think his presence in our world is apparent. We are struggling, but our belief in Jesus, His ministry, His death and resurrection for us is indeed miraculous; we shall overcome those things which seem so insurmountable. We must remember, also, that at the end of our journey here, there will be insurmountable joy as we live in Heaven with Jesus.
O Lord, support us all the day long until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.
~Submitted by Debra Krausse, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.