Holy Week in Review

13 04 2009

Well, we have come through the solemnity  of Holy Week and have come through to the other side into the brightness of Easter.  Our Easter celebrations were absolutely wondeful.

At our Easter Vigil we welcomed 12 newly minted Christians into the Body of Christ, about half of whom were adults.

Had the usual Great Red Neck Easter Brunch with SIR and some fellow southerners.  My dish of choice was the “Kentucky Hot Brown” at Bar Americain.  A Kentucky Hot Brown consists of a piece of French toast topped with turkey, cheese grits, some melted cheese, gravy, bacon and a tomato.

Gastronomical heaven.  Bliss.

We had a special guest at our 11am service on Sunday.  Former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea attended services at Grace 😀 .   According to the rector, they were very attentive, engaged in the sermon, and genuinely seemed happy to be there.  The sermon was excellent (and, by coincidence, had a few of the same points I made in my own reflection) and one of his best.

Our evening service was well attended and the congregation was also more engaged than they usually are.  Our 6pm service on Easter is full of those who look at all the goings on and listen to the sermon and basically dare you to move them.  I wound up doing everything but preaching and celebrating as we didn’t have a crucifer scheduled for the night … so in addition to that I also had altar guild duties, was a lector and a chalice bearer.

It was a very busy day, but very invigorating and fulfilling on many many levels. Our attendance was also up from last year (about 2000 between the Easter Vigil, 9am, 11am and 6pm services).

Reports of the death of the Episcopal Church, I am happy to say, are greatly exaggerated, at least in one corner of the East Village in New York City.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

When God Speaks Deliverance

11 04 2009

marymagdalene Death, they say, is a part of life.  Humanity since the beginning has marked death with some kind of ritual for the remains of loved ones, friends or even pets. There may be a funeral and burial,  cremation, or send the remains out to sea.  Great care is taken to respect the wishes of the departed and those they have left behind.   Much art has even been created exploring death.  Death fascinates us because it will touch us all many times in our lives before it finally pulls us into its embrace. Even after the bodies are buried and the ashes scattered, we still return to cemetaries and memorials to remember our loved ones or perhaps even to somehow commune with them or spend a few moments of peace in our grief.

About 2,000 years ago,  a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene went to a tomb where a loved one was buried a few days before.  She had thought to pay her own respects to the body and spend some time in grief.  Her dear friend, Jesus of Nazareth had recently been framed by the religious authorities of her own people and handed over for torture and execution at the hands of the Romans occupying their home.  When she gets to the tomb, however, she is totally shocked by what she finds.

The tomb is empty.

The Resurrection is a daunting thing to talk about for the most experienced of preachers.  How can you distill the importance of the central event in our faith into about 20 minutes or less (or for readers of this blog, 1200 words or less!)  Many people these days show up to services for only Christmas and Easter, so the challenge is even more daunting to try and reach those who haven’t been to church in a while or even for the first time.  Our 6:00pm service at Easter is full of such folks and at times they seem to look up into the pulpit and dare the preacher to say something that moves them.

Some people, in trying to “prove” the validity of our faith point to an empty tomb as if that is supposed to give comfort that yes, Jesus really is alive and well.  For Mary Magdalene, one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection, her impressions of the empty tomb do not become an occasion for revelation and faith…..

Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Saturday

11 04 2009

…. for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us and has taken away the sins of the world.  By his death he has destroyed death …..

——————Book of Common Prayer, Preface of Easter

Good Friday

10 04 2009

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Chris was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and regins with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.

————-Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Good Friday

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith

Christ has died ….

————-Book of Common Prayer, Eucharistic Prayer A, Rite II

Maundy Thursday

9 04 2009

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:  Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

—————Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Maundy Thursday

On the night before he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, eat:  This is my Body, which is given for you.  Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks he gave it to them and said, “Drink this all of you:  This is my Blood of the new Covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

————–Book of Common Prayer, Eucharistic Prayer A, Rite II