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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category


Ary Scheffer: Saint Augustin and Saint MOnica

Ary Scheffer: Saint Augustin and Saint Monica

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

John 14

A Prayer for Our Days and Nights

Perhaps because our circadian clock plays a quiet but powerful role in our lives we are subtly convinced that the universe is a mystery of black and white principles and forces. Perhaps because we see so much duality in others we are convinced that God punishes or saves depending on our behavior. Perhaps because we divide our lives between forces of good and evil, our perceptions between dark and light and our hours between day and night . . . we see God as something or someone we must seek. Perhaps because of all of this . . . we believe that seeking God means leaving what we know to journey toward what we do not.

St. Augustine of Hippo writes: Don’t go looking for any end beside God, in case by looking for an end beside God, you find yourself being consumed, not completed. (Cameron 277)

St. Augustine lived a life of dissipation in an era when the Greek and Judeo-Christian worlds were merging. He eventually changed his way of living and thinking to become an early leader in the Western Christian Church and to merge the worlds of day and night for himself and others.

In Chapter 14 of his Gospel, St. John records Christ’s words at the Last Supper in which we hear the dialog between Jesus and his followers. Spend some time with it today and consider the world of black and white that we have constructed for ourselves. Consider what it is we would do well to change. And as the day comes to a close and begins to merge into night, join those in the Noontime Circle to pray.

Loving God, protect us from consuming ourselves as we fight against a world that struggles to reconcile darkness and light. Teach us to complete ourselves in you so that we might learn to live in a world that has both nights and days.

For those who convince themselves and others that creation divides itself into worlds of evil and good we pray: allow us to understand that God is every thing and every person.

For those who believe that God’s grace and blessing are earned and not given, we pray: allow us to learn that God’s compassion and love are gifts freely given.

For those who tell themselves and others that our task on earth is to find God while we live safely and comfortably without risking ourselves for others, we pray: allow us to see that we are complete in God when we allow ourselves to be consumed for and in God,

For those who understand Jesus’ words: I am the way and the truth and the life: inspire them to help others to see The Way of days and nights.

For those who live Jesus’ words: No one comes to the Father except through me: encourage them to bring the wisdom of a world of days and nights to others.

For those who enact Jesus’ words: If you know me then you will also know the Father: strengthen them as they bring Christ’s love to all who live in a divided world of days and nights. Amen.


Visit the scripture John Chapter 14 link above and read the versions that have been pre-selected. Choose another version and consider how we might live on a world where dark and light co-exist without consuming us, where the coming together of nights and days become a force in our transformation.

St. Augustine’s citation from SERMONS and cited Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 18.5 (2014): 277. Print.  

For more information on circadian and biological clocks, visit the NIH (U.S. National Institutes of Health) at: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx

For more about St. Augustine and the divergent worlds his life helped to merge, visit the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scheffer_Saint_Augustine_and_Saint_Monica.jpg

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artworks-000017516576-lw5fu1-cropTuesday, May 25, 2021

Psalm 19:2-4

Day and Night

The heavens proclaim the glory of God

And the firmament shows forth the work of God’s hands.

Day unto day takes up the story

And night unto night makes know the message.

No speech, no word, no voice is heard

Yet their span extends through all the earth,

Their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

This spring we have reflected on the importance of preaching God’s Word with every small and great act in our lives. We have pondered the Lesson of the Fig Tree and the worth of even the smallest of sparrows. We have spent time examining our experience of Christ and we have compared the ideal with the real. Today we arrive at understanding that each day and each night are filled with God’s grace even when we cannot see or feel it. We have arrived at believing that just as the firmament extols God’s goodness . . . so must we. No speech is necessary. No word need be uttered. We have only to spend each waking moment doing God’s work. We have only to put our slumber into God’s trustworthy hands for it is in this way that we enter into God’s eternal goodness.

Is this what the Apostle John has seen and heard? Is this the goodness we seek? Is this the gift we have already been freely given?

Tomorrow, a prayer for our days and nights.


Visit the scripture link above and read the versions of this citation that have been pre-selected. Choose another version and ponder how the firmament speaks without words. 

Image from: https://soundcloud.com/handbook/sunrise

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Fans Hals: Saint Mark

Fans Hals: Saint Mark

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Mark 13

Preaching the Gospel

The Gospel must be preached to all nations . . .

Over the next few days we will examine Chapter 13 of Marks’ Gospel in which Jesus imparts so many words of importance to us. Spoken some two thousand years ago, these words brought life and light to those who walked in darkness with no hope.  Read and re-lived today, these words continue to bring us peace and wonder. As we bask in the joy of Easter light and life, let us spend some time with Christ through Mark’s eyes. And let us remember that it is not enough to learn and live the Gospel, we must preach it with our lives.


Go to the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog and consider Jesus’s words to us today . . .

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark_(Hals)

Mark – “I Am”

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jesus-appears-to-the-disciples-after-resurrectionFriday, May 7, 2021

Mark 16:9-20

The Shorter Ending

The short version ending to Mark’s Gospel might leave us looking for more . . . Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid . . . And they reported all the instructions briefly to Peter’s companions. Afterwards, Jesus himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the sacred imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

This quick end is simple and direct; yet it leaves us with a number of questions. What instructions were so quickly repeated? Why this hasty summation? Who exactly were Peter’s companions? What does it mean that others were sent forth by Jesus through them? We believe we know the substance of the sacred, imperishable statement of everlasting redemption, but might we not have a bit more detail?

Fortunately, we can turn to the longer story which describes more fully the resurrection, the commissioning of the eleven, and finally Jesus’ ascension; but what the shorter ending gives us a sense of immediacy, an understanding of the fear these disciples experienced, and the knowledge that something quite remarkable has been passed to us through centuries.

Spend some time today with the shorter ending of Mark’s Gospel and decide . . . do we need the details we long for . . . or might we trust God to fill in all the blanks?  Is this merely a story to entertain or amaze us . . . or are we asked to do something more with the details we hope for?  Is the fear the followers of Jesus experience an emotion we observe and document . . . or do we allow our own fear to affirm for us the importance of this singular, sacred Easter story of salvation?


Image from: http://prayersofthepeople.blogspot.com/

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temple_priestMonday, May 3, 2021

Hebrews 4:14-16

High Priest

In some religious structures it is customary to regard a particular member of the community as a singular mediator between the creator and the created. “As a prestigious, elite class the priests were also expected to preserve the holiness of the sanctuary and the uniqueness of the people of Israel.  Therefore they were subject to added restrictions not incumbent upon the average Israelite. A priest was forbidden to officiate if he had a physical defect (Lev. 21:17-24), was ritually impure, was under the influence of alcohol, or had married a woman forbidden to a priest”. (Achtemeier 882)

Jesus comes to serve as high priest for all.  Jesus comes to us a priest who administers the Law of Love. Jesus comes to us as our brother and high priest to call each of us to unity in and through him.

In this Eastertide, let us consider how we respond to this holy call to peace and grace and love.


For more on the Biblical role and the history of the high priest, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/265328/high-priest or http://www.gotquestions.org/high-priest.html or http://biblehub.com/dictionary/h/high.htm

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 882. Print.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 2, 2021

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_Jésus)_-_James_Tissot

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Three Days

Matthew 15:32 – Jesus feeds thousands who have followed him for three days, hungering for The Word of God. The religious structure collected taxes and burned offerings. The broken-hearted and the displaced were not healed. The marginalized lived at the whim of those with power. There were no social safety nets and little compassion in this ancient society.

Matthew 12:40 – Jesus reminds us that just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish so too will the Son of Man pass three days and nights in the heart of the earth.  There is more safety in Jesus’ promise of salvation than any civil or economic structure.

Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus stands in silence before the Sanhedrin when he is accused of saying that he will rebuild in three days the destroyed temple that took decades to build. When Jesus finally replies that the Son of Man will be seen sitting at God’s right hand, the high priest rends his clothes.  Disbelief and scorn are typical reactions to the savior’s promise.

Matthew 27:39-40 – Those who pass by the crucified Jesus taunt him saying: You who are going to rebuild the temple in three days, save yourself!  Bullying and violence are too often the response to God’s promise of wholeness and newness in Christ.

Matthew 27:62-66 – A guard is established at Jesus’ tomb in order that his compatriots not steal the body and create a false story. “Take a guard,” Pilate says. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how”.  There is no power on earth that can withstand the force of God’s love.

In three days, Jesus rose from the depths of death just as he had promised.  And the miracle of this event is not only that Jesus has risen, but that he carries each of us with him into this new resurrection and new life. Let us give thanks today and all days. Alleluia!


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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magdalene at the tomb

Rembrandt van Rijn: Christ and Saint Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Presence

John records how Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body but us startled to find an empty tomb. Believing that the body has been stolen, she leaves quickly to alert Peter and John. When the apostles arrive, they find the funeral cloths that had wrapped Jesus’ body the previous evening but still they do not believe in the resurrection. They return home puzzled but Mary remains, weeping.

We are equally surprised by life and its turnings, just as Mary is surprised. We also grapple with the reality before us and struggle to understand the mystery that surrounds us. We also give in to our grief and miss the gift of God’s constant presence.

Two angels ask Mary why she cries, and she answers, describing her grief. Christ then appears and Mary mistakes him for the gardener until he speaks her name. He reminds her that he is going to the Father and he asks that she deliver this good news to the disciples. (John 20)

We are equally overcome by grief and frustration, just as Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. We also mistake the open door and the emptiness for nothingness. We overlook the risen Christ and instead we see an ordinary figure in our ordinary lives.

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Mark 16 and Luke 24) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. Let us consider the gift of our own resurrection. Let us give thanks for our extraordinary lives that we live in our ordinary way. And let us give thanks for the gift of God’s eternal presence.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_20:14

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mary-and-friends-at-empty-tomb1Friday, April 30, 2021

Absence

Luke’s story of resurrection is longer and more involved than Matthew’s or Mark’s but again we see it is the women who go to the tomb to dress Jesus’ body. They are described as terrified, not of an earthquake, but of the unexpected absence of Jesus’ body. They take in this news delivered by two men in dazzling white who share words of peace, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee”. The facts are plain – Jesus is not in the tomb. The implications are enormous – Jesus’ resurrection will have changed their lives forever. They will never again see the world in the same way. They will never again see others in the same way. They will never again see the empty tomb in the same way. These early followers of Christ understand that everything has changed now that they have witnessed the Easter miracle. (Luke 24)

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Mark 16 and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we continue to live as before now that we have been offered the gift of resurrection? What do we change about our behavior now that we have seen the risen Christ? How do we respond to God’s call for us to live in newness . . . now that we have experienced the fullness of the empty tomb?

Tomorrow, the story as told by John.


Image from: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/04/women-at-the-tomb-weak-evidence-for-the-resurrection/

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empty tomb 2Thursday, April 29, 2021

Rolling Back the Stone

In Mark’s Gospel it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who bring spices to anoint the dead body as they discuss how they will find help to roll back the heavy stone. Their concern shifts to another matter when they see that the tomb stands open . . . and empty. When they enter the tomb the angel, a young man clothed in a white robe, says to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised and he is not here”. Despite these words, Mark tells us, they were afraid. (Mark 16)

If we spend time today with this and the other resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Luke 24, and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded here for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we react when we discover that the stone has already been moved from the tomb? How do we share this experience of the empty burial place? How do we respond to the words that we need not be afraid?

Tomorrow, the story as told by Luke.


Image from: http://www.livingwithfaith.org/blog/who-was-the-other-mary-at-the-tomb

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