The terms apostolic succession and historic episcopate describe the belief that bishops are the successors to Christ’s apostles. In this paradigm, a bishop’s authority is derived from the apostles by an unbroken ministerial lineage. The outward sign of this lineal sequence of authority is manifested when ordaining bishops physically lay their hands on a new bishop during the new bishop’s consecration. Bishops have been regarded as succeeding the apostles because: 1) they perform apostolic functions; 2) their commission goes back to the apostles; 3) like apostles, they succeed one another in jurisdictions, and 4) at their consecration as a bishop, the bishop inherits from the apostles the transmission of the Holy Spirit. The apostolic succession is said to be a “sign, though not a guarantee” of the church’s basic continuity with the apostles and their time. The maintenance of the “historic episcopate” was a major issue during negotiations that eventually established co-communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC). The breakthrough came when the ELC, which had not maintained the historic episcopate, allowed Episcopal bishops to be present at all ordinations of ELC ministers to establish the historic episcopate in both churches.
~Written by Gil Haas
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 & Luke 24:13-35
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
The scripture passages we have been reading in the lectionary these pass three weeks have really been hitting home for me.
I’ve been seeing interesting parallels to what took place two thousand years ago and what we are experiencing in 2020. In fact, maybe, they have been a little too on point.
Think about that first Easter. The apostles weren’t just hanging out, excited about Easter. They had no idea if Jesus’ promises were true. They didn’t know how the situation would turn out. They feared for their livelihood, and many cases their lives. Their had no idea if there was anything left to hope for. They were practicing their own kind of “social distancing” they were hiding out in one house. Afraid to go out or let anyone in. They had no idea how long they would be hiding or what was really going on with the world outside.
Because they knew the authorities knew where they were. They were worried that they couldn’t trust those in authority and that was probably a pretty wise thing to do.
We are in midst of a mounting death toll and so many unknows. To be honest, we still have a lot to fear. A lot of reasons to feel hopeless. And yet, if you look at the Easter stories you will notice that God always remains faithful when we are faithless.
Yes, we say that God is present in all times and places, but we’ve all had times when evidence of God felt scarce. Now might be one of those times. But when we stop our frantic searching, we may find that God is hiding in plain sight.
So often we fail to recognize the presence of the divine in our lives. Don’t we?
It’s like when you’re looking for something like -- your glasses and you turn your house upside down searching for them. It seems to all be in vain. Then, all of the sudden you realize, that they are sitting on top if your head. Or better yet, at the end of your nose. The obvious is not always the obvious until we see it.
The risen Christ and the glories of the resurrection are there for all to see, but we need the Spirit to point all out for us. Sometimes it is necessary not to be able to see in order for us to come to a place where we can say “Now I see!”
That’s why I love the account of the appearance of Jesus on the Walk to Emmaus and the supper that followed, as told in today’s Gospel. It is a poignant story of a pair of men, with their hopes dashed and spirits crushed … and the dawning of their awareness of the grace and presence of the living God alongside them.
Those disciples were so enveloped by their grief at loss of their friend, companion, teacher and Savior that they couldn’t imagine how God could bring anything good out of this precarious predicament.
How apropos. This story is emblematic of our current situation and maybe our spiritual life. Everything is a little destabilized and uncertain.
Today, we too wonder about the outcome of the situation we find ourselves grappling with right now.
As we venture through the long circuitous path of this coronavirus pandemic, how can it possibly be transformed into an “Emmaus Experience?”
How can our time of isolation become a moment of redemptive value?
This past Easter, four of us—took the items you, the members and friends of SAC collected for our Lenten Outreach Project, to the Jesus House. You may remember, we were gathering various food items to fill the 750 Easter baskets that were going to be given to our homeless brothers and sisters around the downtown area and beyond. But, when the virus broke out, we decided it would be easier to give those items to the Jesus House, where they could store them and distribute them, as needed.
Over 100 loaves of bread, 35 lbs. of meat, 1044 slices of cheese, 925 bags of chips,1000 bottles of water and 410 apples. One of the staff members of the Jesus House helped us unload and store the bountiful supplies in their warehouse and thanked us profusely. He told us that it was a God send. Because they had been running low on supplies and these “essentials” would provide needed meals for hundreds of needy people for several days. It was a miracle of sorts on what I thought was going to be an uninspiring Easter afternoon.
It was at that moment my eyes were opened and I thought, this is an “Emmaus Experience.” Jesus—the crucified and Risen One, will be made know when my brothers and sisters have an opportunity to “break bread.”
In earlier in April I listened to Dave Davies’ interview of Sam Sifton, food editor for the New York Times, on NPR’s “Fresh Air” where he stated, “There are precious few good things that are happening as a result of this coronavirus pandemic, but one of them - small as it may be - is that a lot of us are really experiencing the joys of eating together with family regularly. And for me, it's been kind of joyful amid all the sorrow.”
I said, that proves it, when we have an opportunity to participate in the “breaking of the bread” it can truly become an “Emmaus Experience.”
That’s why we as Episcopalians are longing for the day when we will once again be able to gather as a community of faith to hear the sacred stories that have shaped our faith and participate in sharing the bread and cup of the Messianic Meal that transforms us into Christ’s body for the broken world.
In the meantime, as we wait in longing anticipation for that day to arrive, we as a church, have an opportunity to participate in what can become an “Emmaus Experience” for others by our generous support of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
You may know that every day, some 656,000 Oklahomans suffer from food insecurity. That’s enough to fill the Chesapeake arena 36 times over. And as of the beginning of April, because some 50,000 people in our state are unemployed. The number of people need assistance has increased exponentially.
The difficulty for many, is that there no relief in sight.
So, at this critical time, the Vestry has set a goal of raising some $5,000 to matched dollar-for-dollar for a total of $10,000 to be given to food bank. This money will help alleviate some of the burden they are encumbered with at this time, and provided nourishment for those most in need.
In other words, the crucified and risen One will be seen by others in the giving of a meal, in the breaking of the bread and just maybe our eyes will be opened to realize his presence among us, as well.
So, it would lead one to believe that God is still speaking to us and acting in our midst even, right now. Amen.
A Sermon delivered on The Third Sunday of Easter
April 26, 2020
What exactly is The Feast Day of St. George and who was St. George?
Although not on the Episcopal calendar, last Tuesday (April 23rd) was the feast of St. George, the namesake for St. George’s Guild. George is most known as the patron saint of England, but he is also patron of forty-four other countries and cities as well as the scouting movement. Returning Crusaders learned the legend of St. George from Orthodox icons. In this legend, a dragon nested near the spring that provided Cyrene’s water. To collect water, a sheep was offered to distract the dragon. If no sheep were available, then a maiden, chosen by lots, was substituted. One day, the lot fell to the princess. Taking her fate willingly, she approached the beast. Fortuitously George appears, protects himself with the sign of the cross, and slays the dragon. His gallantry converted the village to Christianity. George was born into a Greek Christian noble family in the third century. Despite being only 20, he became Emperor Diocletian’s best officer. His Christian faith crossed with Diocletian’s edict that all Roman soldiers must sacrifice to Roman gods. Despite Diocletian’s promises of vast riches, George never capitulated. He was eventually tortured and decapitated after giving the poor his wealth.
“But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
As these are the closing words of our reading, I am getting ahead of myself.
We need to start by acknowledging the grief within & around us.
We are living in a strange land, a COVID world. A world that is filled with grief. A grief that is emotional but also physical, social and cultural.
Today, it is “normal” for all of us to be experiencing some form of grief.
Many of us sit with our doors locked, distant from each other and hoping to keep COVID-19 at bay.
We worry about those for whom home is not a safe place.
We grieve for the Holy Days that have been disrupted, Easter without shoulder-to-shoulder singing.
We ache for those who have lost wages, for those whose careers have been disrupted, internships cancelled, and schools closed.
If we could, we might look around to see if anyone is missing. We grieve for those who were forced to die alone and for their families.
We grieve the loss of over 40,000 in the US and 160,000 in the world.
And even as these thoughts press down on us, we also remember the 168 lives lost in the bombing of the Murrah Building at 9:03 on a beautiful morning, twenty-five years ago, today.
While grieving our losses, we also have countless concerns for the future.
When will we able to return to the celebration of birthdays, the planning of weddings and the excitement of graduations?
We may be concerned for our children and our children’s children.
When will we be able to share the peace in person? To reach-out?
And what about football? Or basketball?
What will the future look like?
We grieve for a world that has been turned upside down. We can relate to the call of the Psalmist when he cries – “Protect us, O God”
I see many parallels in our Gospel lesson from John. As the story begins, the disciples are facing many of the same experiences of grief.
Most of the disciples are sequestered in a small room behind a locked door in fear for their lives. If they killed Jesus, they reasoned, the leadership would certainly be looking for them.
Just a short week earlier, they were celebrating with shouts of Hosanna! Hosanna! as they followed Jesus into Jerusalem.
While they had witnessed God working through Jesus in his “deeds of power, wonders, and signs”, they must have felt powerless.
They had shared their lives with Jesus for the past few years – now what? They too were out of work!
And even with the words of Mary Magdalene given to them earlier, they were unable to understand.
Surely, their world had been turned upside down too.
And where is Thomas? Has something happened to him? Was he in hiding elsewhere? Was he out looking for signs?
And don’t we all relate a little to Thomas.
Don’t we want someone to “show us”.
Don’t we want someone to explain how to move forward.
Surely COVID-19 doesn’t make sense
Our minds are filled with doubts
It would appear hope is lost – as it says in Luke 24
But born of grief, comes Hope
As recorded – “But God raised him up, having freed him from death”
And in Acts
“I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades”
What happens to announce this turn around?
Jesus appears. It’s funny but there aren’t any details to explain this act. It just happens.
Jesus appears to the disciples, showing the marks that the world had left while at the same time saying:
“Peace be with you”.
And they rejoice!
Now they know it was not they who had chosen him, but he had chosen them. Jesus entrusts them with the same mission he had received from the Father. By the Holy Spirit, they are given the power, to bring the forgiveness of sins into the world.
And as for Thomas, the one with whom we so often associate doubt, what do we know? Was it really doubt, or did he mistrust his fellow disciples to tell the story? But Jesus appears to him too. And his response, “My Lord and My God. All of his doubt was washed away.
And what about us. We cannot place our hands in the side of Jesus but we can see the Holy Spirit at work all around. It just happens
We see people appear, reaching out to help each other.
We see family sharing their food.
We saw people run to the Murrah Building to help. Some of you are here.
We are all witness to the "miracle" of doubt turning into faith, fear into hope.
While we cannot see what lies ahead, let us remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
“Take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
So while we give voice to our grief and concerns, Jesus is there to hear our prayers.
While the future is unclear, Jesus appears to us to enlighten the way.
While we too will leave this world with the marks, the scars of living, we know we did not choose but have been chosen.
We will, by God’s Grace, be transformed and welcomed.
These (words) are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
We have been called to respond.
To shout He is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed
To close, I have adapted a prayer from America’s Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman
O Holy One, receive our grief.
In this chaos, may we discover clarity.
For from our grief come the seeds of gratitude
Lord, hear our prayer
The question isn't if we will weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
Lord, hear our prayer
Ensure that this ache wasn't endured in vain:
May we not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
Lord, hear our prayer
May we hear the Peace you offer
May we respond to your call.
Lord, hear our prayer
Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;
Heeding the light of Christ before and within us.
Lord, hear our prayer
And with celebration in our voices and in our hearts, let us say,
He is risen,
He is risen indeed
~ Deacon Intern Todd Olberding
A Sermon delivered on The Feast of Resurrection: Easter Day
April 12, 2020
Colossians 3:1- 4 & Matthew 28:1-10
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“Empty is a Good Thing?”
I believe all of you would have to agree that for most of us, we’ve just come through the most difficult Lent and Holy Week. Trying to deal with the stresses in our lives even when we take in the problems of the world. Most of us have a hard time stopping, standing still and breathing.
In the seventies Jackson Browne sang a song, “Running on Empty.” In the song he’s trying to leave the past behind, but he’s running on empty. There is nothing, nowhere to go.
Or as the lyric put it: “Everyone I know, everywhere I go/ People need some reason to believe/ I look around for the friends that I used to turn to, to pull me through/ Looking into their eyes I see them running too/ Running on – running on empty.”
On Friday night our worship space was bare. Empty, Void. But, we needed that empty place to know what this morning means. To get down to what is truly important and worthy. What is of the utmost importance. That’s each and everyone of us, who have been made in the image of God.
Because, far too often if the truth be told, we carry around a lot of baggage: the losses, disappointments, frustrations and sorrows that take up space within us. “Baggage” is the word that use to describe the human condition we are in.
In the midst of this most trying time, we have learned again the profound truth: you’ve got to pass through some empty tombs and empty places on the way to resurrection.
The human heart is like an infinite abyss. So wrote mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal about 350 years ago. In vain we try to fill our hearts with all kinds of things. But only God can fill that void, he wrote.
Most of us spend way too much time looking at electronic screens – television screens, cell phone screens, computer screens. But for a minute, push “off.” Shake the screen. Unplug the cord. Could it be that empty is actually a gift?
For writers it is an empty screen or a piece of paper waiting for words and image. For musicians it is a blank piece of staff paper awaiting notes and rests. For artists it is empty canvas waiting to be filled with color. For all of us it is a new day and everything that means. The rest of the story is yet to be written.
I suppose a blank “etch a sketch” screen would be one way to say it. A more ancient phrase is “tabula rasa,” a blank slate. We are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Every day we die to sin and rise to new life. Every new day we are given a tabula rasa.
The baggage is deleted.
The tomb is empty. Christ is risen. Death no longer has dominion over us.
And before us is the greatest gift we could ever hope for: another chance.
The risen Christ comes among us this morning.
Filling our empty spaces.
Soothing our empty hearts.
Energizing us with creativity and passion to fill our empty world with art and music, with justice and compassion, with love and kindness. Christ comes not only to our minds, but also to our hearts, and our spirits.
I recently saw a sign which said, “Due to the outbreak of Covid19, our church building is like the Jesus tomb--Empty.” How true that is. The tomb is empty. The church those who are the “called out ones” are gone and have left the building. But you know that’s not a bad thing and “Thanks be to God”, our hearts are not empty – because now we see a new world filled with the possibility of his endless love.
Empty never looked so good.
~Fr. Joseph C. Alsay
A Sermon Delivered at The Great Vigil of Easter
April 12, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“The Resurrection Brings About Change”
I had a most profound conversation with a friend that past week, and we discussed that fact that whenever we see the other side of this period of isolation and quarantine due to COVID19. Things will not be same. Our communities, churches, schools, families, nation and world will look and operate totally differently. Everything has changed and will change in a most dramatic way.
Think about it, this is the first time for so many that they have not been in church on Easter Day. Some of you might be saying, “You know, Father, I kind of like this being able to stay at home and have an extra cup of coffee, turning over in bed a few more times, or watching you on the screen in my comfy pajamas.”
Indeed, everywhere we turn, it seems that change is in the air. But change is not simply relegated to the structures and institutions of our common life. We can see it in our attitudes, our expectations, and our assumptions.
Our gospel reading this morning is a perfect example of this.
The reading says, Mary turned around – and when she did -
she saw not a gardener but she saw Jesus standing there.
It was a CHANGE that she didn’t expect.
Once she hears him say her name, she recognizes him instantly.
My friends, Easter is being willing to let God come into our lives and turn our lives around.
Easter is turning “CHANGING” our will and our lives over to the care of God and letting him lead us out of the tomb of our existence.
God asks us to stop looking backwards – stop crying over the past and over the pain.
“Let go - turn around” he says – and when we do - we meet Jesus standing right where we are.
That my friend is what we call faith! We need at lot of faith in the midst of the fearful and foreboding situation we find ourselves in today.
Faith comes when we open our hearts and we enter into a new personal relationship with the Risen Jesus.
And the faith and the trust that we put in him, God will honor and he won’t ever let us down; just as God honored Jesus’ faith and didn’t let him down – but, instead – he raised him up on that first Easter morning.
Resurrection is all about CHANGE. Beginning again.
The Greek word for change or repentance is metanoia related to the word metamorphosis.
That's the Easter story. That’s our story.
That which looked to all the world like failure and death – put in God’s hands has become new life.
Turn around and look not so much with our eyes – but with our hearts see how God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Each and every one of us – is a miracle back from the dead.
God’s raised us up and brought us into a new life with him.
A life he now asks us to go out and to share with all our brothers and sisters – especially the ones still stuck in their tombs, the ones still sheltering in place, the ones still having to observing physical distancing.
Like the women at the tomb, in a sense, we run from this place, back to our everyday lives, ready to face whatever comes our way. We go forth to the world --the weak, the poor, the frightened, the hopeless to share the good news that, the Lord has risen.
The Lord has risen indeed! The Lord has risen in us!
~Fr. Joseph C. Alsay
The word “Paschal” is derived from Greek (pascha) and Hebrew (pesah) words that
mean “to jump” or “to pass over." Paschal, in Judeo-Christian terms, means pertaining
either to Easter (the Pascha) or to its antecedent, the Hebrew Passover. In the Old
Testament, God’s Passover resulted in the gift of freedom to the Hebrew people from
their Egyptian masters. In the New Testament, the Paschal Mystery is the central tenet
of Christianity that resulted in the salvation of Christ’s followers. It is a single phrase
that encompasses the death, resurrection, ascension, giving of the Holy Spirit, gift of
baptism, the calling of followers from every nation and language, and a repeating
participation in this Mystery at each baptism and through the consuming of Christ’s body
and blood at every Eucharist. In this Christian context, the word “mystery” implies a
divine mystery that cannot be grasped by mere human reasoning, but, by living a life
centered around Christ and His teachings, we can glean some knowledge and
experience of this marvelous paradigm. Each year, all of these concepts become drawn
together at the Great Vigil of Easter which is the most comprehensive and dramatic
liturgy of the Church.
Last week, I heard an interesting interview on NPR. It featured a gentleman who mentioned, that one positive thing he has experienced from the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, is a recovery of mealtime with his family.
What could be more everyday than the family meal? Out of that gathering stories are told, the day’s events rehearsed, and the family unit is at its most intimate time. The meal is more than for feeding the body; it is also for feeding the heart in fellowship among those whom we know and trust the most. The family meal, then, is multi-generational event: remembering the past, living the present, and looking to the future. Older generations pass traditions on to the next generation who will likewise come together for meals.
In Mark’s gospel today, we are presented with the family meal of Jesus and his disciples. This, though, is no ordinary meal. It is the meal of meals that recalls when the Israelites prepared to be liberated from Egyptian slavery.
But today’s Gospel meal speaks of a different liberation. Our liberation from sin and death, brought by the blood of Jesus on the cross. At the Eucharistic Fest, we are reminded that saints past, present and indeed, you and I, gather in the most profound and intimate of families, the Church. It is the place where we rehearse the Christian family history, instruct the young, and feed the soul. It is the stuff of future memories.~Fr. Joseph Alsay
An altar is a structure upon which religious offerings or sacrifices are made. In Christian
theology, the Eucharist is a re-presentation of Christ’s death and sacrifice being made
“present again”. Hence, the table upon which this sacrifice is re-presented is called an
altar. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer (written in the 17 th century when anti-
Catholicism was rampant), the phrase “Lord’s Table” is substituted to avoid the
sacrificial implications of the word “altar”. The area around the altar is endowed with
greater holiness than other areas of the church, and, as a result, some Anglo-Catholic
parishes insist that only persons in holy orders can touch the altar’s surface. Most
rubrics up to the 17th century envisioned the altar as free-standing. With time, reredos,
or ornate altarpieces containing a tabernacle for the reserved sacrament above the
altar, became ever larger. This forced architects to build altars against a wall. When a
free-standing altar is used, the reserved sacrament is stored in an aumbry away from
the altar. Current Catholic doctrine states that newly built altars should be the center of
attention of the whole congregation.
April 5, 2020
“Wash Your Hands”
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Philippians 2:5-11 & Matthew 27:11-54
From the time we are little to the time we are grown, we are always instructed to wash our hands.
As a youngster every time you turn around your mother is telling you to wash your hands before you do this or wash your hands after you do that. You can’t go a day without having to wash your hands. It doesn’t get any easier when you get older either. Everywhere you look, there is a sign somewhere that says, please wash your hands. You visit a hospital and you’re told to wash your hands before visiting a patient, you come home and your wife gently reminds you to wash your hands.
Recently I visited a local restaurant and went to use the restroom, as I exited the restroom there was a sign on the wall that read,
“Employees must wash hands before returning to work.”
And now in the midst of the horrific nightmare we are all experiencing with the spread of the worldwide epidemic called the coronavirus, the CDC is pleading with us all to simply “Wash our hands!”
The message is everywhere and it’s quite clear. From a commercial featuring baby shark, chalk creations on the sidewalks, and even in our own restrooms here at the church.
It’s one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Turn on water, wet your hands, apply soap, rub together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, be sure you get the back of both hands, in between every finger, under all 10 nails, fingertips, wrists, both thumbs, rinse off all soap, dry your hands with a clean towel, turn off the faucet with the towel.
The problem is, if you’re are like so many, you’ve problem been doing it wrong. Which can lead some to say “I wash may hands of the entire thing.”
Have you ever heard the expression, “washing your hands of something or someone?” Well, this idiom actually does come from the Bible. The phrase when used in our vernacular means that we desire to no longer have anything to do with something or someone. We wish to abdicate all responsibility for something.
For example: An exasperated parent may thus threaten a rebellious teenager with the words, ‘I’m sick and tired of telling you to do your homework. I won’t tell you again. Now it’s up to you whether you pass or fail your exams. I wash my hands of it all’.
You may be asking, “Well, what does all of this hand-washing have to do with Palm/Passion Sunday and our gospel text this morning?”
I recently read that biblical scholars have agreed that Pontius Pilate didn't wash his hands long enough or thoroughly enough to avoid taking any of the responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus.
While many have speculated over Pilate's exact handwashing technique, it's now clear that he just ran a little water over his hands before shaking the droplets off. This was a common practice at the time, with men who just used the restroom even not washing their hands at all if no other man was in the bathroom to witness them. Luckily, we have outgrown these shortcomings in modern times.
"Pilate needed to scrub his hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds to avoid taking any responsibility for the crucifixion," said one researcher. "He should have sung 'Happy Birthday' twice or as good Episcopalians do, sing the Doxology. Then, a good thorough drying with a paper towel or Dyson Airblade would have sealed the deal. As it stands, just running a little water over his hands wasn't near enough to help him avoid judgment from God."
Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, saying, I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.
By washing his hands of the affair, Pilate was saying that while he had the authority to sentence Jesus to death, he wasn't taking the responsibility for Jesus's crucifixion. The responsibility lay with the crowd. Jesus died at their hands.
So, for his own survival, Pilate went along with the crowd. It was this which sent Jesus to the cross.
The trouble with Holy Week is that it is full of stories which remind us about the sort of people we are. Pilate's story reminds us about the sort of people we are. Because we know what it's like to go along with the crowd. For our own survival, we know what it's like to allow others to suffer. We know what it means to wash our hands of a situation, for our own survival. We've all done it a thousand times.
So, how do we wash our hands of the blood of Christ?
For some, it is not acting when it is in your power to act. Instead of being the good Samaritan, you cross to the other side of the road like the priest did.
For some it is not speaking up when doing so might bring justice to a situation.
We can wash our hands of Jesus, by failing to acknowledge Him before others.
We can wash our hands of Jesus, by living in hypocrisy.
We can wash our hands of Jesus, by being unloving towards others.
We can wash our hands of Jesus, by not fulfilling the calling that He has placed on our lives.
We can wash our hands of Jesus when we engage in activities that we know are not in alignment with our faith
Ganged up on someone else, let them take the blame instead of us, vented our anger and aggression on an innocent victim. And all the while denying any responsibility for what we've done.
We have to hold our hands up to admit that the sin of Pilate is our sin too.
In fact, whenever I sin, I am reminded of that piercing sound of hammer and nail as I drive the spikes into my own Saviors wrists and feet.
How can God possibly forgive the sin of Pilate? How can God possibly forgive the sin we hold in our hands?
There is no explanation for God's forgiveness except in his absolutely unconditional love for every one of us. God loves us all, no strings attached.
Though blood is on our hands, God loves us.
Though we wash our hands to hide our sins, God loves us.
God's love is stronger than death. Though we turn away from God, God never turns away from us. Instead, Jesus wants to take our hands in his.
~ Fr. Joseph Alsay