April 27, 2014
Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Today we begin a sermon series on the book of Acts –
Sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles.
The book of Acts is a great book to study because for one thing it’s easy to read.
Much of Acts reads like a novel.
There are a lot of exciting stories in the book of Acts.
It’s also great book to study because it talks about the church,
what the church was called,
what the church did when they gathered together,
how they made decisions and dealt with disagreements.
The book of Acts is fun to read because it’s controversial!
Pope Francis took some criticism as he voiced his concerns about capitalism
a little while back.
Some of what he said is based on the way Christians lived in the time of the books the Acts.
You read the book of Acts and you have a lot to talk about at dinner parties!
Easter Sunday – Christ is Raisins!
April 20, 2014
I heard a story
from a clergy colleague of mine this week.
He has a five year old daughter
who is quite proud of herself that she is learning to read.
She’s at that stage when she tries to sound out everything…
menus, cereal boxes, road signs,
(she’s also at that endearing age when she very happily will point out to her dad that he’s going over the speed limit too!)
Well last week, they went to an Easter egg hunt
and afterwards the little girl was sitting at the kitchen table opening her eggs.
Inside each egg was a little piece of paper
(Don’t worry – I think there was some candy too!)
But the five year old took out the slip of paper and slowly tried to sound out the message…
Christ is raisins indeed! Alleluia!
from Joan Chittister, OSB
Eighth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb.
This stations brings us to grapple with the grace of closure. Some phases of life end and cannot be retrieved. They go by before we’re ready to see them go. Worse, their going may feel life ignominy at the time or may even look to the world like failure. It may sting with grave injustice and may grieve us beyond all telling of it. But only in the ability to realize that life goes on from one stage to another, from one moment to another, from one task to another, from one kind of presence to another can we ever come to new life. When Jesus submits to the death of his ministry, when Jesus allows both state and synagogue to cast him out, one life ends so that another can begin.
Am I able to trust that the tombs of my life are all gateways to resurrection?
Jesus, give me the grace to see in all the dead ends of my life an invitation to new life. Amen.
from Joan Chittister, OSB
Seventh Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.” And when Jesus had received the vinegar he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
This station brings us face to face with the finality of defeat. Sometimes things don’t have a happy ending in life. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we’re beaten. Sometimes we’re lost. Sometimes we’re humiliated. Sometimes we’re misunderstood. Sometimes we are abandoned by the very people we love most in life and whom we thought also loved us. At that point, without doubt, something in us dies. There’s not going back to things as they were before. Then doors close in our hearts and the old breath goes out of us and all we can do is to surrender to the dark. It is not a pretty moment. It can take all the energy we have.
Am I able to accept the daily deaths of life, both the great ones and the small, knowing that death is not the end of life, only its passing over to something new in me? Hopefully, I learn from the Jesus who gave up himself, his mission, his life in ways that all seemed totally wrong, that the deaths I die may bring new life to the world around me as well.
Jesus, help me accept whatsoever deaths you shall choose to send me this day, with all their pains and griefs. Amen.
from Joan Chittister, OSB
Sixth Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him; and with him they crucified two criminals, one on the right, the other on the left, and Jesus between them. And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was numbered with the transgressors.”
This station brings us all to face the moments when we know we must do what we do not want to do. When what we know to be right exacts more from us than we think we can give, then Jesus nailed to a cross is our only hope that one day the cross we seek to avoid will have been worth the climbing. The cross is what we feel when the project flounders, when the job ends, when the love disintegrates, when the position is over, when all the supporters go away. Then we begin to realize that life’s real problem does not lie in being nailed to a cross, it lies in choosing a cross that is too small to justify being nailed to in the first place. When we spend our energies on small things, when we spend our lives chasing dreams that do not satisfy, we suffer as much to lose them, but for far too small a reason.
Are we spending our lives, our hopes, our emotions on something great enough to make the pain of losing them worthwhile? The task of life is to choose to spend it on something big enough to risk the pain of its loss.
Jesus, give me the grace to choose carefully those things to which I give my heart and on which I spend my life so that having to suffer for them, the suffering is always meaningful. Amen.
from Joan Chittister, OSB
Fifth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And they divided his garments among them by casting lots. This was to fulfill the scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing.”
This station confronts us with the inevitable in every life: Somewhere along the way, we each get stripped of what we have spent our lives acquiring, of things closest to our hearts, of possessions or positions that made us who we thought we were. Then, thrown back upon ourselves, we are left to discover who we have really become. It is a frightening moment, often an embarrassing one, always a difficult one. So much of life is spent attending to the show and glitter, the masks and trappings, the externals of our personal identities that we fail to notice what is missing inside of us. We don’t miss what we don’t have within us until we need it most. Then the lack of dignity, of self-containment, of simple joy, of deep serenity, of holy trust, of genuine humility become glaringly apparent. Then we are ready to become someone worthwhile.
What is underneath the garments of pomp, authority, dignity and wealth that we have so carefully cultivated around us? Anything at all?
Jesus, when I lose everything in life I depend on to give me status and give me security, help me to find myself in you, full to the brim with a sense of the fullness that comes with faith and purity of heart. Amen.
Fourth Station: Jesus Meets The Women of Jerusalem
There followed after Jesus a great multitude of the people, and among them were women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
This station compels us to consider the long-range implications of our actions. It reminds us that justice must come or we will all suffer for the lack of it. Some of us find it easy to judge and condemn. Others find it easy to serve and support. The truth is that support without judgment is compliance with evil. “Don’t weep for me if this happens,” Jesus tells the women of Jerusalem. “Weep for yourselves and your children if this society continues on the road that it is on.” Don’t weep for the people on death row, in other words, weep for the kind of society that would stoop so low as to become what it hates.
Do we really reject what we call sinful or do we really reject only the sinners themselves? This question brings us to face ourselves at our deepest, darkest core.
Jesus, help me to strive for both mercy and justice. Give me the heart to stand with the people who need me and the courage to go beyond what is to what can be. Amen.