Monday, March 31, 2008

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-47
1 Pt 1:3-9
Jn 20:19-31

I will not believe. Unless I put my finger in the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. Thus declared Thomas after being told by the others that hey had seen Jesus and he was alive. Thomas simply stated I will not believe. So the next week as the disciples of the Lord were gathered Jesus appeared to them again. This time Thomas was among therm. Jesus called to Thomas and said here, look at the nail marks, place your finger in them, place your hand in my side and do not be unbelieving, but believe. Thomas looked at Jesus and simply said, “My Lord and My God!” If we read the scripture carefully, Thomas looks at Jesus and believes, he never actually touches him. Seeing, apparently, proved to be enough. Jesus says blessed are those who have not seen and believe. That would seem to include you and I, but in many ways we have seen Christ. When we see a person in need of our help, we are seeing Christ. When we see a person mourning, we see Christ. When we a person filled with joy, we see Christ. Everywhere we look, Christ is there. We can see Jesus, if we open our eyes, if we have faith. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we see Christ, in the assembly, in the words scripture, and most especially in the bread broken for us, in the cup shared by us. We see Christ and we touch Christ, in a more profound way than we can ever comprehend. We see Christ here, in this sacrament, we touch Christ here in this sacrament, so that we may see Christ there, touch Christ there, in the world around us. We see Christ here, we touch Christ here, so we may look around and proclaim My Lord and My God.

Deacon John
The Second Sunday of Easter
March 30, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Christ is Risen! Alleluia!!
Mt 28:1-10

He is not here. What an astonishing thing to hear. Come and see the place where he lay. To see the tomb, empty, must have been an awe-filling, frightening experience. How would any of us have reacted to this? I’m, not certain, but running away in total fear seems like a good idea. Yet Mary Magdalene and the other Mary did not run in fear. They ran, and they were certainly fearful, but they ran joyfully to tell the others what had just happened. On their way they met Christ, the Risen Christ, whose first words to them were, “Do not be afraid.” He sent them to tell the others to meet in Galilee.
He is not here. In a great many ways it would have been easier if he were there. That would have conformed to what was expected, they would have known how to react. Everyone has lost someone, everyone can mourn. But Christ wasn’t there, the tomb was empty, and they weren’t sure how to react. The world as they understood it no longer existed. They needed reassurance, they needed to hear those words, do not be afraid. Jesus wasn’t where he was supposed to be, he was where he needed to be.
As we go about, living our lives, we do the things we must, and often we take our faith, we take Christ, and place him inside a nice little box with a very secure lid. Once in a while, maybe on Sunday, we open the box to peek in, to make sure that he is still there, and that all is right with the world as we think it should be. Until we come to today. We open the box to check in and discover he’s gone, he is not there. How can this be? We had everything arranged perfectly, each part of our lives in its own box, everything where it should be, and now this. Looking again, we realize that someone has been moving things around in the other boxes. What is going on here? I had it all the way I wanted it, and now it’s all confused. Not sure where to turn, not sure what to do we look again at the boxes and realize that maybe some of these changes aren’t that bad, they may even be an improvement. Then we see him, we hear the assuring words, do not be afraid. Slowly we come to understand that he is not there, in that box. Christ is not where we want him to be, Christ is where we need him to be.

Deacon John
March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Is 52:13—53:12
Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Jn 18:1—19:42
A man is betrayed by a friend, a trusted companion. He is taken away and put before the religious authorities and then the civil authorities. His situation is without much hope. The authorities are determined to find a way to execute this man. His friends run away in fear, and this man is left alone to face his fate. No one is willing to help as he is given up to an excruciating death. A story that is indeed the stuff of tragedy. Yet this story, as we listen to it, doesn’t seem tragic at all. This man faces his fate with uncommon dignity, indeed, with a touch of triumph. The Christ is not a tragic figure here. As the mob comes to seize him in the Garden, and they ask for Jesus of Nazareth, he replies, I AM. A bold statement, a claim to the name given to Moses when he asked the identity of the power behind the burning bush. A statement that Christ will not turn away, but accept the fate he knows awaits him. At each turn, in front of the high priest, in front of Pilate, Jesus faces what is coming. His seemingly inexorable movement toward death is not a tragedy, but more a triumphal procession. Christ knows where he is going and goes there willingly. This is not to diminish the pain that lay before him. He knew what was to come, he lived under Roman rule, he had undoubtedly seen crucifixions before. He knew what awaited him, a horrific, painful death. In any circumstances, a tragic end. But my brothers and sisters this is not tragedy. Indeed it is triumph of the highest order. Despite knowing what was to come, despite the suffering he faced, despite the horrible death, he went forward. He went forward to triumph, for you and for me. He triumphed that we might triumph. This story is not about death, but life, life given for us, life given to us. This is a story of life, triumph and glory. Do you want life? Look to the top of the Hill. Do you want to see real triumph, true glory? Look, there it is on that cross.
Deacon John
Good Friday
March 21, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Passion Sunday

Is 50:4-7
Phil 2:6-11
Mt 26:14—27:66 or 27:11-54

The Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. How are you supposed to follow that? I suppose it can be seen in one of two ways. After hearing the Passion, what’s left to say? Or, there is so much to say where can one possibly begin or end? What I choose to do is look at two specific areas. First, when Pilate realizes he is getting nowhere with the crowd and must give Jesus up to crucifixion, he washes his hands of the blood of Jesus, whom he regards as innocent. The people reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” For too many years this has been used as an indictment of certain people, blaming them for the death of Christ. How foolish of anyone to see this in that way. The passage says the whole people cried out “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” That whole people, and those children to come later are us, every single person who ever has or ever will live. The Christ died for our sins, yours, mine, everyone’s. As sinners we are responsible for the death of the Christ, our sins put Jesus on that cross. We all share in the death of Christ. We are all responsible.
Second, just before dying, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It sounds like a cry of utter despair, but it is not. This cry is the beginning of Psalm 22, which, in my Bible at least, is titled The Prayer of An Innocent Person. The beginning sounds like despair, but the Psalm ends in great hope. Verse 25 says, “For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.” The final verse says, “The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.” Hope, the Psalm ends with hope. Jesus was undoubtedly familiar with this Psalm. He spoke the beginning, but he knew the end. Surely many who heard him knew what he was quoting, and they also realized how the Psalm ends, not in despair or anguish, but in hope, that those to come would know of the deliverance that was theirs, brought through Christ.

Deacon John
Palm Sunday
March 16, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Ez 37:12-14
Rom 8:8-11
Jn 11:1-45

Darkness, stillness, quiet. Everything is peaceful, but everything is dark. Shrouded in darkness he lay there, serene, quiet, but dark. Suddenly there’s a blinding flash of light. The darkness is cleaved by a light that he had never seen before, brilliant, blinding, filling all space. Then he hears a call in the distance, breaking the still and quiet that he was growing accustomed to. He hears the call again then realizes that someone is calling his name. He struggles into the light, hearing a voice, the voice, cry, “Lazarus, come out.” He struggles farther into the light until he hears the voice say, “untie him and let him go.” Suddenly Lazarus finds himself free from the bonds of death, free to live again, free of the tomb. How disorienting for him must this have been! Pulled into the light by Christ, pulled into the light of Christ, Lazarus once again walks among the living. I wonder how he approached this new life, surely he was grateful, hopefully he appreciated not only being alive again, but life itself. He must have seen things differently. He must have appreciated the light.
We share much in common with Lazarus, for we too find ourselves shrouded in darkness, a darkness of our own making. We find ourselves entombed by our selfishness. We find ourselves entombed by our sinfulness. We find ourselves entombed by our failure to love. We live in the darkness, a darkness that we have grown accustomed to. We stumble along, shrouded in the dark, not really living. We remain in the tomb of our own construction, a tomb built from our failure to love as God has asked us to love. We hide in that dark sanctuary, fearful of what may be outside. It does not have to be this way. We too, have a chance at a new life, a life more full and more meaningful than we have known before. All we need do is look up, see the blinding flash of light, the brilliance that fills all space. There is no need for fear. Move into the light and hear a voice, the voice, calling to you, “Lazarus, come out.”

Deacon John
Fifth Sunday of Lent
March 9, 2008

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Lent

1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Eph 5:8-14
Jn 9:1-41

Blind, unable to see. Trapped in darkness. How difficult must it be now to be blind, how much more so in the time that Jesus walked the earth. The man born blind that Jesus encountered must have had a difficult life indeed. Not only did he carry the burden of blindness, he carried the presumption by others that he was this way because of some sin. He was born in sin, so God punished him by allowing him to be born blind. He lived in a world of darkness, darkness that other saw as doubly dark, the physical darkness of blindness, and the spiritual darkness of the sin that caused his blindness. Yet through this blind man the works of God would be made manifest to the world. Jesus puts a paste of clay and saliva on his eyes, sends him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and gives him the gift of sight. This man who lived in darkness suddenly lives in light, light made possible by the grace of the Christ. This change is hard for some to grasp, even unacceptable to some. Some refused to see the light given to this man by Christ, some found it unacceptable. Who was more blind?
Blind, unable to see. Trapped in darkness. That is a fairly good description of you and I. We sin, yet we do not see. We cannot, will not, believe that we are in darkness, we fail to understand that we do indeed live in the dark. Yet there is no reason for us to live in this darkness. The grace of the Christ is for us eye opening. Through Christ we can suddenly see, finding light where once all was dark. We cannot see until we allow the grace of Christ Jesus to touch our lives, to open our eyes, to bring us into the light. Too often we seem to prefer the dark, to prefer the blindness of our sin. We have the ability to see, to cease being blind, if only we accept God’s gift. We could see, but we turn away. Embrace the light, escape the dark, accept the gift of light granted by Christ. Too often we refuse to see the light granted us by Christ. Who could be more blind?

Deacon John
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 2, 2008