Monday, April 28, 2014

Second Sunday of Easter (A)- Sermon

Second Sunday of Easter- Sermon
4/27/14- Year A

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!  

I will not go to Alabama!  I will not marry Ian and move to Iowa with him!  I will not not live in California!  I will not will not will not eat green eggs and ham!  I will not believe.  It is often said, that if one wants to make God laugh we need only to tell Him our plans.  And in life that seems to be the truth of it.  I went on Internship to Alabama kicking and screaming and a few other things, yet ended up loving it. Alicia could not resist the my foolish charm, ended up saying “yes” and later blissfully married me and made her home with the yankees in Iowa. The lanky character from Dr Seuss loves Green Eggs and Ham to the knowing delight of Sam-I-Am. The one about California? Well, standing here before you this Sunday morning you know how well that one went. Hearing from the Lord, once again, oh yes you will….  So often have we head these words from the Lord throughout our life in spite of our objections, you might over hear us say every now and again… “I’ll never live in Hawaii.  I’ll never live in Hawaii.” In a cadence not unlike Dorothy’s incantation over her ruby slippers.  And Thomas? Well Thomas, believes and confesses, “My Lord and My God” to the ever-knowing delight of Christ.      

Rejoining his brethren in the locked room where they had been hiding out, Thomas is told an unbelievable thing by the disciples. That not only is Christ risen from the dead, but they have SEEN Him! Gladness and peace filled their hearts as Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them, giving them life in the midst of fearing their death.  In their gladness and joy they shared with the absent Thomas their encounter with the risen Lord.  To which Thomas, perhaps thinking them at the least stir-crazy or at the most mad, replies, “I will not believe.” Where fear had been overcome by the peace of Christ for the ten, for Thomas that fear still remained. What his eyes had beheld just a few days before, could not comprehend what his ears were now hearing. His own knowledge and trusting his own insight over and above the apostolic word blocked his ability to believe. He could not comprehend the apostolic joy he found upon his return. Relying on his own word made sure that he would continue to be bound in fear for his life. Trusting in his own wisdom he made sure that he would not believe. Though the disciples were locked in a building, Thomas was locked inside himself held captive by fear. Just as it was fear that gave Alicia, Myself, and the man from Dr. Seuss to confess with absolute certainty, “I will not!”   

As we know from our own lives, faith and trust can be a most difficult thing at times to grasp. Though the Church has often given St. Thomas the short end of the stick by referring to him as Doubting Thomas, we know his story isn’t all that simple. The mocks that we might make of him by our own pride are quickly undone when we look seriously at our own lives and the times that we too have been trapped and locked for fear. At least St. Thomas feared for his life, more often than not our own fears that keep us inside of ourselves are more about fearing the loss of status, pride, our own claims to omnipotency or the luxury of comfort. Whether trapped by pain and grief, or by the constant barrage from the world telling us that what we believe is false, or by trusting in our own wisdom of knowing better than God and His word, we along with St. Thomas have uttered similar words, “I will not. I can not”, because it easy to let fear over take us. Indeed I would say it is in our very nature. Hearing the good news from the Apostolic Word we still fear what that means for our lives, we fear being different from the world. We fear actually believing and losing our grip of control. We fear losing popularity by having our life changed and transformed from what ‘we’ want it to be. We fear actually trusting the Word to do its work in our life and the life of the congregation. These are the realties, the struggles against our flesh that we all face daily. This life of faith at times is difficult, because we live it without the benefit of sight. Or do we?

In great mercy, Christ comes to Thomas. Jesus appears before his eyes and confronts him with the full reality of His bodily resurrection: put your finger into my hands, stretch out your hand and place it in my side.  Feel the wounds which I have suffered for your sake, Thomas. Place your fear in them. Place your own bondage to yourself, your wisdom and your strength. Place your grief in them. Place all your doubts and misgivings in them. Place yourself, your very life in the wounds which I have born for you and for all. Peace be with you, Thomas. My peace is with you!  Do not disbelieve, but believe.  And to the all-knowing delight of Christ, He does.  He confess the faith, the faith of his brothers and sisters, the faith of the Church.  Jesus is Lord and God.  Jesus is our Lord and our God.  

In even greater mercy, Christ Jesus comes to us who did not physically see the resurrection 2000 years ago, but who are still met by the risen Christ. Jesus says to us, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!”  We are blessed for He does not give us up to the doubting taunts of the world nor to the fear of our souls, thus He gave us sacraments by which to see His presence and His Word to hear, read, and know.  In His Resurrection He speeds His way to us, to confront us with the Truth of His life and to give us peace.  True peace which the world cannot give, by liberating us from the tempts of the world, the darts of the devil, and the failings of our own flesh our sin.  

Jesus Christ comes to us and breathed into us the Lord and Giver of Life, given at Baptism. He comes into our very presence, in the closed doors of this sanctuary, truly present in Bread and wine, with words of promise and life, “This Is my Body.  This Is My Blood.”  Reach out your hand take it, touch it, eat and drink from it. Do not doubt, but believe! Here I am, He says to us. Hide yourself in my presence, in the meal of the remembrance of my sacrifice for you, take your life your worries and your fears and hide them in me. Christ is present with us this morning and every time we partake of the means of grace, those places where Christ is truly and really present to show us, as He showed Thomas the glory and splendor of His resurrected life. These are the places where He liberates us again and again and bestows on us His Holy Spirit. This is why, the Church and being active in the life of her worship, is so necessary for us, if we wish to be Christians, because it is only under the presence of Christ, under the shadow of His wings that we are brought from disbelief and doubt to faith.  It is the reason we make parents, all parents, who seek baptism for their children to make vows to raise them in the Church: to live among God’s faithful people, to bring them to the Word of God and the Holy Supper, to teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, to place in their hands the holy Scriptures, and to nurture them in faith and prayer.  For these are the placed where they will encounter the risen Lord.  

These are the same places where we encounter the Risen Lord. In them Christ comes to us, to cast away our doubt and our fears, just as he did for St. Thomas. He comes to silence the anxiety of our hearts and minds and to fill us with His peace.  To strengthen us, “do not disbelieve, but believe” He says to us in Word and in Sacrament.  To laugh at our plans and disarm the certainty of our fears.  All of this He does for us and gives to us, Just as St. John in his gospel describes, so that we might believe He is Lord and God.  And that believing we may have life, everlasting life, in His name.  

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Morning Sermon

Resurrection of our Lord–Sermon
4/20/14–Year A

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

What more needs to be said? Is there any message, any word that could be spoken that should out do the angel’s proclamation to the Mary’s this morning; He is not here, fore He has risen? And I am not just saying this because I’d like to end this morning’s sermon here and sit back down, being filled with exhaustion after last night’s tremendous, wonderful, beautiful, and might I add, delicious celebration of our Lord’s resurrection at the Easter Vigil. I say that there are no more greater words to be said or added this morning simply because it is true. As you likely know we pastors work hard and are filled with much anxiety, making sure our Easter sermons are polished perfectly.  Filled with every word…that we could ever say…about any thing. Because today is, so to speak, the the Super Bowl of Sunday’s in the Christian calendar. The pews are filled with more people than usual, as families and friends come on this day, and then go home for their Easter celebration. They are filled by visitors and guests who come to join the Church’s celebration on this day.  And on top of that of course we worry that the council members have their note pads out this morning to make sure the pastor doesn’t mess things up too badly today. I kid, about that. Yet not even they could be harder than we pastors can be on ourselves to make sure we get it right. One might say we find ourselves heading to this Easter morning the same way the women left the empty tomb; with fear and great joy at wondering just what to say. 

But to do so, to worry about flawless words and polished sermons is to miss the point of the day and turns the Easter day of Christ’s resurrection into a day about me. Yes, even clergy, if you weren’t aware, are prone this is most prevalent vice.  Today is one of those days though where fewer words are better, for anything that we would or could say can be summed up in the three words of the Church’s proclamation: Christ is risen! It alone is the foundation of our entire faith and hope in God. It is this Easter morn upon which the Church’s life of faith is built. Not Christmas or any other festival, but rather that on this morning, this first day of the week, the women go to the tomb and find it empty. That is the earth shattering, world turning, and quite literally earth shaking word which the Church is given to proclaim this morning and every Sunday morning. That Jesus whom we crucified by our sins, by our own rejection of God’s love in His Son, has not abandoned us to the abyss of death or the darkness of the grave, but has called forth speech from silence, light from darkness, and life from death. Life for His Son and life for those who cling to the mercy of Christ, his cross and his resurrection.  All of this is there present in the Easter proclamation: Christ is Risen. 
We see this transformative power of these three words in our Gospel lesson this morning. Women who went before the sun had even cast its first rays upon Jerusalem went to the tomb carrying spices ready to anoint and grief again over the death of their beloved. We can only guess how many tears they shed on Friday, on Saturday and early Sunday morning, but undoubtedly they were many. Yet the poor lowly and burdened women are transformed and changed, they are renewed and filled with hope and life at the angelic word. Their sorrows over death give way to the good news of life. Their world is changed as Christ is risen. At these words the lowly are raised. 

We see this transformative power of three words not only in the faithful myrrh bearing women, but we also see it in the strong and haughty guards. Those roman soldiers who had been given leaven by Pilate to go at the Pharisees command and guard the tomb. They had been given what could be one of the easiest assignments a soldier could ever have, to make sure a dead man doesn’t leave his tomb! How foolish they likely were at the easiness of such an assignment! How boring it must of been for them!  But at the shaking of the ground, the angel’s presence, and the stone rolled away to reveal an empty hole in the rock, these “living men” alive to their own wisdom, thought, and trust in their own strength, become as the one whom they were supposed to be guarding. St. Matthew tells us, they became like dead men. Dead, not only because these guards lost their prisoner, which was a capital offense, but they are dead to their own wisdom, beliefs, and strength as they could never be stronger than that dead man.  At these words prideful are brought low. 

We see this transformative power in these three words not only in our gospel lesson, but in the full reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The victory party in hell thrown by Satan on Good Friday, thinking that he had won and outsmarted God, is interrupted by a special news bulletin. As we heard last night from St. John Chrysostom, “[Christ] descended into Hell and took Hell captive! It took a body and came upon God. It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it has not seen! O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? For Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen and the demons are fallen!”  At these powerful words the gates of death are opened and the good news is proclaimed to those held captive. At these words Satan who thought he had won the battle, has found out he has completely and forever lost the war. At these words the demons tremble and cower in fear over their own destruction. At these words the sin which marks us for death, is washed, cleansed and forgiven and we are marked for life everlasting. 
 What truly more can be said than “Christ is risen?” For by it earth is raised to heaven; the gates of paradise are thrown open to all who believe in Christ’s free and unending love for them given in Holy Baptism and sustained by faith, prayer, Word and Holy Sacrament; and humanity is clothed with divinity. It has the power in these words to transform mourners into celebrants, the prideful living into the humble dead, bring the dead to life, turn the roaring sharped toothed devil into a fangless enemy and make we sinful rebels of God into His most loved and precious children. 

If these three words have the power to do all of that, to transform the world, how much more do they have the power to transform you and your life. This day the Resurrection of Christ comes to you and you are witnesses of it. By His glory and power YOU can not come witness this and NOT be changed. You CANNOT LEAVE the same as you CAME this morning for today you have beheld the Risen Lord in Word and Bread and Wine.  As St. Paul writes, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:4).”  He who is your life is here and he comes to glorify Himself in you by claiming you as His own, setting you free from the bondage of your own tombs, and give you life. Therefore, when grief overtakes you, let “Christ is Risen” be your hope. When the wisdom or strength of the world puts you down or causes you to despair, let “Christ is Risen” be your support and defense. When  you find yourself trusting in your own strength more than in His, let “Christ is Risen” be your humble reminder that He is Lord and you are not. When the devil seeks to thrown your sins in your face and lead you to despair of God’s grace, let “Christ is Risen” be your battle cry! When the hour of your own death draws near, let “Christ is Risen” be your anthem to everlasting and eternal life! 

“For Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! 
Christ is risen, and the life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb.” (St. John Chrysostom)
To Him be all glory, honor, and might now and ever and unto the ages of ages! 


Holy Triduum: Easter Vigil, The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Easter Vigil: Sermon of St. John Chrysostom († AD 407)

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.

Holy Triduum: Good Friday Sermon

Good Friday-Sermon
4/18/14- Year A

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

We are in good company this night (today), my brothers and sisters, as we stand before the scene depicted by St. John. We hear of the whole cast of characters that we are all familiar with in the Passion story. There are fellow kinsmen of our Lord who bring charges against him, arrest him by the word of his betrayer and lead him before Caiaphas and a kangaroo court. There is the begrudging Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, who seems to want to find a way not to do what the masses are begging him to do, who pushes back against them, but only ever so briefly after quickly caving to the mere mention of Caesar. There are the guards who beat our Lord, ripping his flesh open with each crack of the whip embedded by glass and metal. The ones who would also put a cross upon his shoulders, lead him outside the gate and nail him to that same tree. There are  those who mock and taunt him along the Via Dolorosa and at Golgotha, deriding him as he gives up his last breaths and proclaims that all is now finished. There are the thieves who watch our Lord’s passion from crosses of their own, one to his right and the other to his left. We all know these characters make up this Good Friday for they all play a role in the sacrifice of our Lord.  
We may even find ourselves in their places as we too have brought this shameful act upon our Lord, for that is the reality of our own sin, but when I say that we are in good company tonight (today) that is not the company that I mean. Rather on this Good Friday with the cross that stands before us now, raised before our eyes, we find ourselves with another company: the company of the Church and her saints. There in their agony and bitter grief—weeping tears, tears as the psalmist describes flowing down faces, flooding beds and drenching couches—they stand by Jesus’ Cross. We, brothers and sisters, find ourselves in the company of Mary His mother and her sisters, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene and at least from the apostles the beloved disciple John. On Good Friday, we weep with them on the fate that has befallen the one whom we love just as they did, Jesus. 

We stand in the beloved disciple John’s painful shock and disbelief that all that Jesus had spoken about regarding the things regarding his end are now finished. That he would be betrayed by one who would call him Rabbi and one that John himself had likely called friend. We can feel his own sense of being betrayed by Judas and the anger that he undoubtedly felt. We might sense his own foolishness as it wasn’t long before that he was bargaining with Jesus for his own seat of glory next to Jesus. The seat of which he now sees is not in palace or throne room, but the seat of the Cross. For we too are His beloved disciples and as we hear of what happened to Jesus we can be filled with that same self-righteous anger that we would have done better. That we would have sniffed Judas out from the start. That we would have done things differently. That is our own foolishness, which is laid open and bare for the Jesus’ cross. Though we might pridefully think such things, Jesus death lays before us the true reality of that sentiment, that all have fallen short of the glory of God. Even those with good intentions, even John the beloved, will fall always short in comparison to the glory of God and His Christ. 

We stand in the depth of grief that St. Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus had done a profound and remarkable work in her. Healing her from the seven demons that had taken hold of her life. While Luke mentions the number seven specifically, we must not forget the significance of such a number in the Jewish mind. Seven is not just a real number, but symbolic of wholeness and completeness. Mary was not only possessed, but thoroughly, completely, and wholly possessed and from that Jesus lovingly healed her. So great was his loving deed for her that she was almost never not by his side. She was there in the good and she stands with him now at this most dark time of her teacher and friend. She laments, she mourns of what has transpired and we too who have been washed and healed from our own possession to sin, death, and the strangle hold of the devil lament and mourn.  We are in her company.  

We are also in the company of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of our Lord, who in indescribable agony watches something that no parent should ever have to watch. We stand with her as she watches the spear pierce her son’s most holy flesh and feel the words of Simeon being fulfilled, a sword will pierce through your own soul also. Those of us who love our Lord Jesus cannot miss or gloss over the painful sacrifice that Mary herself endures, giving up not only God’s Son, but her own Son to be crucified. That is the reality of the Incarnation that the blood He sheds is like the blood of all children given from their parents. Hearing His passion today we find ourselves like Mary throughout her life, pondering all of these words, all of His deeds, and treasuring them in our hearts. We stand in the company of these saints, these fellow disciples this night. We stand in the company of that nascent Church and hear how even from the Holy Cross, Jesus lovingly cares for them, behold your mother, behold your son. In his last words Jesus sees that we are cared for, by calling them not to friendship alone or cordial fellowship, but to be a family, to be His family in the world.  

Lastly, we are in the company of the Crucified Lord. Looking at our hands we see no gaping holes. Feeling our side we see no gash from the spear’s carnage. Looking out I see none of us wearing a crown of thorns and having washed feet last night I know of nail wounds there either. Yet St. Paul says, we have been crucified with Christ. Gazing at our Lord’s cross we see a man who is not us, but who is one like us. We see not ourselves, but yet that is the very place that He took for us. In His crucifixion, He has taken our crucifixion. By His death, He has taken our own death. By baptism we have received upon ourselves His incarceration in the tomb, we are buried with Him. In this is found the goodness of this day. That we do not bear His wounds, but that we are marked by them. That we are not nailed to His cross, but rather it is imprinted upon our brows and becomes the redemption of our lives. His cross for our sake is remembered and recalled as we make the sign of the holy cross upon our bodies. That our body is not given up, broken and shed, but Jesus’ was. He has given His life for ours. He has loved us to the end, even to the end of the cross.

  Finding ourselves hidden in the mortal wounds of our Lord, we also then find ourselves in the Father’s love for His Son. Though He sent prophets and we stoned them. Though at the end of the ages He sent His beloved into the world to speak peace, light, and eternal love and truth and we crucified Him. He will not let His Son’s worldly sentence go unanswered. He will not let His Son be deprived His justice and His love. The eternal Father, does has His own Son did to Lazarus, He will call Jesus out of the grave, start His heart pumping again and let his own blood given for the life of all, give life to His own body once more.  He will vindicate Him, raising Him from the tomb. Though our nature and bodies end in death, the Father declares life to be the final word for His son and He declares life to be the final word for those who are hidden in the wounds of His Son, under the shelter of his outstretched arms, clothed by the shadow of the cross. We, in the company of Mary, Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John the beloved, have died with Christ and by the Father’s love we are raised with Him. 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  


Holy Triduum: Maundy Thursday Sermon

Maundy Thursday- Sermon
4/17/14- Year A

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen!

Tonight, the fortieth day of Lent, marks the end of our journey that began on Ash Wednesday. Like this night, so many days ago, we gathered to begin a season of repentance and confession. We we're marked with dust and proclaimed to be like that very ashy substance. We are dust and to dust we shall return was the proclamation of God's judgment upon Adam and Eve for their transgression, eating the forbidden fruit and turning their backs to God and His command. We received our ashes and that same word of judgment upon us. We share Adam’s fate for our own neglect of His word and command, turning our backs to Him for the shiny objects and smooths words, the world uses day by day to lure us away from Him. Lent was given to us to call us to turn back to Him, to repent. Along with the time were given the disciplines to encourage and aid us in drawing closer to our Lord through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These we have done not for the sake of themselves or for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of striving ever more to listen to the voice of our Lord and Master who bids us to pick up the cross and follow him. We gave up the things that consume us, so that we might be consumed by Christ, His Holy Word, and His Holy Sacraments. 

It has been a time to reflect upon our nature and to lament of it, that we are truly sinful and unclean, just as God's judgment revealed to us in the garden. We began Lent as one begins the Christian life of faith, with confession and the deep need of God’s mercy. Tonight, we will end as we began, with confession and absolution. God's word of forgiveness will be spoken to us, not in a general word of absolution, but personally and individually as hands are placed upon our heads with the word from the pastors as if from Christ himself, "I forgive you all your sins." Our season of confession  ends, as God's holy word of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love is spoken to just as it was foreshadowed on Ash Wednesday by the shape of the life-giving cross upon our brows.  

As Lent ends, we begin the Church's commemoration of the last days of our Lord's life, the Great Triduum (three-days) as it is known by tradition; Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. We mark these remaining days of Holy Week in the shape and pattern of our Lord, conforming our actions to His and His word. As we will hear in a few moments, Jesus on this night of his betrayal, laid aside his garments and grabbed a towel, basin, and water and began to wash the feet of his disciples. Instructing them to do likewise for each other, that they might show true love and humility towards one another. Just as He showed them. 

His command to love one another was not just talk, but deed and a ritual action that would communicate the depth of love that binds them togethers as brothers and servants to one another. Another ritual act of His love that will again be displayed as he takes bread and wine, give thanks to the Father and gives to them as His very own body and blood. His love he places in their meager hands as that same body and very same blood is broken and spilt by those who beat him, those who mocked him, and those who put nail and spear to flesh. The depth of Christ’s love for them and for us is on full display before us this night and each of these three nights as we celebrate the power of His love, not in feeling or emotion, but in sacred deeds and solemn acts.

We, who have been loved by our Lord Jesus, washed by Him along with Peter and the rest of the apostles, will spend these three days in one long and continual service. You will notice that tonight there is no final or closing hymn, there is even no postlude, but we depart in silence, because Jesus’ story does not end tonight. We begin by remembering, as the choir sang tonight, remembering His sacred love for us and by following His sacred word, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” On this night, Jesus’ washed the disciples’ feet, He instituted the New Passover meal that would define His Church, and He commanded them to love one another. And so tonight we have washed feet in remembrance of Christ’s service and humility to those who He came to call and even to those who would deny and betray him. We will once more celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the New Passover meal in remembrance of Him and receive the forgiveness He gives in bread and wine. We will ponder in our hearts His Word, to love one another as He has loved us.  

Leaving in silence we will make our way back here tomorrow night, gathering again and come before the life giving cross upon which the savior of the world was hung. We will stand as witnesses like the crowds around Him did, the chief priests, the people, the disciples and confess with the centurion that surely Jesus, is the Son of God. We will weep with Mary her tears, we will be convicted by our own transgressions which have wounded and continue to wound our savior, and we will be embraced by the outstretched arms of God in Jesus Christ who loves us unto death. 

Yet as we know the story doesn’t end there, with lifeless corpse, an occupied tomb and the grief that accompanies it. Thus, we will follow Jesus one more night to see again His eternal act of pure unadulterated love as we gather in darkness to keep vigil with the whole Church. Saturday night will once more be filled with those solemn and sacred acts of God, remembering that He is the light of the world, as we hear the story of salvation retold from the beginning, as we reaffirm our baptisms and in great joy we will hear of our salvation as Jesus is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. 

These Three Days, we set aside—while the world passes by—to commemorate, remember, and give thanks for all that our Lord has done for us and the price that He paid for faults, for our own faults, for our own most grievous faults. Let us enter into these mysteries of our faith, with a heart and mind open to receive our Lord who comes to us through these freely and lovingly given sacred acts of His own goodness, so that we may be shaped by them. So that the command that He gives to His disciples tonight, will be the very command that forms and shapes our hearts and minds for all eternity; to love one another just as He as loved us. To love one another in all humble service and meekness. To stoop down upon our knees and wash each others feet as Christ has washed us in His love and kindness. To offer ourselves as a living sacrifice of love for the sake of our brother and sister. And to love one another even to the point of death. For that is the very length, breadth, height and depth of Jesus’ love for you, not idle talk, but in deed and power. Let us enter into these Three Days with all faith and reverence, with fear and trembling, and with anticipatory joy and watch as God will turn our own tears of grief in to tears of unending joy.  

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.