THIS IS NO ORDINARY MEAL - SERMON ON ISAIAH 25:6-9 AND LUKE 24:13-49, REV. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
“This is No Ordinary Meal”
Isaiah 25:6-9 & Luke 24:13-49
Every meal prepare with love is a feast.
This is no ordinary thing we do here this evening. We use ordinary things—a building, benches, wine, and bread—but it's no ordinary thing we do together.
This is not an ordinary sack lunch we might pack with us to work or to school and eat at our convenience.
It's not a fast-food fill we take as a break.
It's not grazing our way through the leftovers in the fridge, stuffing our faces as we watch the clock.
Nor is this a frozen dinner, thawed and microwaved mercilessly, stripped of its plastic, and eaten alone in silence in front of the television.
This is no ordinary meal. It won't fill, but it will satisfy something deep within us. It can't last, but it will linger in our souls. It holds no great variety, but it does carry the truth of love.
It’s at Emmaus, that the risen Jesus Christ takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread to the two disciples. The hands that take the bread on this occasion are the same hands that took the bread to feed the crowd, and to share that last meal with his disciples. With his nail-scarred hands, Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives. It what do when---each week following his example we dare to take, bless and give.
That's what we do this evening. We celebrate a feast of love—not so much in the meal, but in the joy of what takes place here. In the promise that the risen One will reveal himself to us in the word spoken, and in the bread broken.
So, come Lord Jesus and be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed.
This is no ordinary meal.
~Rev. Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
WHAT A WONDERFUL CHANGE! - SERMON AND REFLECTIONS ON ACTS 10:34-43 AND MARK 16:1-8 BY REV. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Reverend Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Acts 10:34-43 & Mark 16:1-8
“What a Wonderful Change!”
On first glance, it seems like the gospel of Mark ends rather abruptly! The women have come to the tomb to care for the body of their friend and Lord. They totally expected death. Seeing the stone rolled away, they entered the tomb – they entered into death. They didn’t find Jesus. Instead, they saw a young man dressed in white, who told them not to be amazed, that Jesus had risen. This same stranger told them to tell the disciples and then head to Galilee.
Is it any wonder that terror and amazement seized them?
The Greek word for amazement, “ekstasis,” literally means, “change of place.” And that is what has happened to us and to all of creation because of the resurrection.
There is a gospel song written by Walter Hawkins that simply states,
“A change, a change has come over me.
He changed my life and now I'm free.
He washed away all my sins and he made me whole.
He washed me white as snow.
He changed my life complete and now I sit, I sit at his feet.
To do what must be done I'll work and work until he comes.
A wonderful change has come over me.
A wonderful change has come over me.”
Before Easter, we stood in a place of sin and death. After Easter, we stand in a place of forgiveness and life. Everything is changed.
When I began here at St. Augustine 10 years ago, I was given a plaque that show an old lady speaking at a podium with 6 mics and a bald up first raised in the air. She says, “Change is good. . . as long as I don’t have to do anything different.”
My friends, because of the dynamic and life-changing power of the resurrection, we are not the same. The world is not the same. This new reality of forgiveness, life, and salvation is and should be unsettling. Terror and amazement, indeed!
The world is turned upside down. Or rather right-side up. We have been changed for the better.
~ Fr. Joseph C. Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
MEDITATION ON JOHN 12:20-26 JESUS PREDICTS HIS DEATH - SARAH-EMILY STEINHARDT, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Jesus Predicts His Death
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
I love the last part of verse 24 here, “But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” It is often so difficult to see and realize that in death, there is life – both in nature, in humans, metaphorically, wherever we may seek to find it. The dormant winter grass yields lush green growth in the spring. A burned patch of field yields gorgeous flowers. We may choose to die to old habits not serving us, for a healthier, new approach or perspective. Sometimes relationships even die, and hopefully through that pain we gain perspective and strength on the other side. Is the death part easy? Pretty? Without grief? No. Yet if we allow it to do so, it will produce life.
My dad died in 2006 after his body was ravaged by cancer. He was a life-long organ donor, with the organ donor sticker on his driver’s license. My family didn’t think much about this fact until he had passed and we were now asked for permission for those organs as we made burial preparations. We were told cancer victims didn’t always have much available, but we still said yes, knowing my dad would have liked helping someone else. Time went on, and imagine my family’s shock, surprise and overwhelming emotion when we received a letter, months later, telling us that my father’s eyes had been donated. His corneas had given someone back the gift of sight. The kernel of wheat, fallen to the ground, died and produced many seeds. How powerful! What seeds has death produced in your life?
Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Jesus. Thank you for his death, and the seeds and life that he has produced in his willingness to sacrifice himself. Help us to be willing to die to ourselves – to see that old, sinful nature on the cross and crucified with Christ. Use that death to produce fruit that honors you, God! Help us to be at peace with death, knowing that in you, death means life everlasting.
Submitted by Sarah-Emily Steinhardt, the Member Engagement Coordinator of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
During the time of apartheid, St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa, was called “The People’s Church”. Its Bishop, TRR Desmond Tutu, had the following proclamation posted on its doors: “We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to wailing babies and excited toddlers. We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, and junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps, or don’t like ‘organized religion.’ (We’re not that keen on it either!) We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because granny is visiting and wanted to come to the Cathedral. We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both, or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as kids, or got lost in the city centre and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters,...and YOU!
To those who are worshipping with us today, this welcome applies to St. Auggie’s as well!
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Our three-year Lectionary rotates the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection in the gospel lessons assigned to Easter/Easter Week. In Matthew, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” entered the tomb because an angel employed an earthquake to roll away the stone. The angel petrified the guards and spoke with the women. Jesus later hailed and encouraged them to inform His disciples. In Mark’s simpler narrative, Jesus “appeared first” to Mary Magdalene who told his unbelieving disciples. In Luke, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, and “other” women found an empty tomb and two angels who reminded them of Jesus’ foretelling his death and resurrection. The women informed the unbelieving apostles. In John, Mary Magdalene described to Peter and John the empty tomb. After running there, John and Peter entered the tomb discovering the collapsed burial cloths and the napkin formerly on Jesus’ head rolled up in a place by itself. A weeping Mary peered into the tomb and saw two angels who inquired of her sorrow. After explaining, she turned around to confront Jesus whom she thought was a gardener. She implored the “gardener” to tell her the location of Jesus‘ body. When Jesus said, “Mary”, she recognized Him.
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.