“Oh, Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.” That refrain from the lovely British hymn “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” has been sung by countless schoolchildren as they run round a maypole on the May Day. It echoes in my mind with Mary’s statement in the Bible that “all generations will call me Blessed.” (Lk 1:48), which is part of her wonderful song there, Magnificat. Because she speaks of God’s vindication of the poor, her day — the first of May –was the original Labor Day and it still is, except in our country. This monthRead More →

Cleopas and friend, former adherents of the Jesus Movement, are ‘getting out of Dodge.’ Their leader, the rebel rabbi from Nazareth, has just been executed for treason by the Roman government. The Christian project has failed. Their fallen hero is obviously nobody’s awaited Messiah. Right? So they are on the road heading away from Jerusalem, moving away from the risk of being molested; for association with what’s left of the Movement is still dangerous. And, then, to add insult to injury, there are rumors of some kind of resurrection. How confusing and confounding it all must seem. Then, suddenly, Jesus is there beside them! ThisRead More →

The Roman Empire does not tolerate dissent, period. The rebel rabbi called Jesus from Nazareth, has been executed by the government for treason. Before hi death, Jesus did not deny his sovereignty to Pilate but clarified its nature, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His death was predictable considering that the last phase of his life was begun by fulfilling a Messianic vignette in the writings of the great prophet Zechariah, by making a royal procession into Jerusalem at a time the ancient capital was a political powderkeg. If Jesus has been established by the State as a traitor, then obviously his followers areRead More →

In this season, the Church especially encourages the veneration of Saints. — Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The Episcopal Church. Readings: II Esdras 3: 42-48; John 20: 1-15. The Saint and Martyr whom we honour today died on Easter. Born Magnus Eriendsson in 1075, Saint Magnus was a Viking, the son of two Vikings who jointly ruled the beautiful Orkney Islands where he was born. Christianity, introduced to Orkney some three decades before, existed side by side with Norse religion. Early on, the hearty Magnus took up the calling of a pirate and was quite successful. Sometime later, he was converted to Christianity and became, therefore,Read More →

This Easter will truly be a time to remember. No joyous Mass together with glorious music, no shouts of “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” with the responses of “Christ is risen, indeed, alleluia!” No first ringing of bells after our solemn Lent. No blessings of the fresh candles and consecration of new Sacrament. No children’s ‘unburying of the alleluias’ outside and flowering of the Cross. As if to magnify the strangeness, the time of Vigil began with dark thunder- storms continuing Easter Day, to be followed by a Spring freezing spell. We celebrate today using the miracle of modern technology, in virtual format. But celebrate weRead More →

It is Saturday morning, the time of this holy week that is perhaps the most completely neglected. Yet, for me Holy Saturday is a poignant time. Good Friday, with its agony, death, and burial is behind us. We taste defeat. Yet, tonight awaits the Great Vigil hailing the resurrection. But now, in these moments, we are in-between in absolute silence. Lord Jesus is in his grave, nothing will be as it was before. Early theologians will teach that right now the Christ-Spirit is travelling to purgatory, there to parole all the righteous who lived and died before his Good Friday, to grandfather them into hisRead More →

This day is known by many names. In English, it is called Good Friday. In Spanish, Viernes Santo, Holy Friday; in Romanian, Vinerea Mare, the Great Friday, However named, we live into it both at witness and participants! What I mean is that Jesus was executed by the Roman Empire for treason, challenging the dominant power structures of his day and standing up for justice. He was, therefore, killed by human sin, in which we all participate. As the old hymn says, “”Twas I denied Him. I crucified Him.” We also find ourselves guilty of sometimes buying in to those very imperial values that heRead More →

On the last night with his followers, Jesus called for a final meal together, there in an upper room in Jerusalem, in an evening that would have great meaning for the Church to be born on Pentecost. Was that final feasting a Passover meal, or was it a friendship meal? The answer is: we just don’t know. The synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) tell us that it was a Passover meal (with all the symbolism that carries) and John’s gospel says it was a friendship meal (though the meal itself is not described there.) We in the Western Church follow the synoptics and treatRead More →

The long passages narrated today begin with Jesus and crew preparing for a final Passover meal and end with Jesus’ corpse being sealed in a tomb. We go from the entry into Jerusalem to the burial of the Saviour. That is quite a journey! Jesus enters in a royal procession as described by the prophet Zechariah. He is greeted with shouts of hosanna, “Save us.” That heartfelt cry is meant quite literally, for the awaited Jewish messiah is expected to lead a military revolution to end the Roman domination of Jewish territory and usher in a new, final, and perfect age for the Hebrew people.Read More →

In this time of suspended church activity and virtual worship, we are now approaching the most holy week of the Christian year. With so many new people at Saint Matthew’s, and others who may want memories refreshed, I thought it a good idea to do a brief summary of the week ahead. As we go forward, I will continue to provide any internet resources that come to my attention to enhance your experience of Holy Week. And, as usual, I will blog sermons throughout the week. On Palm Sunday, we normally gather to process and wave palm branches, in emulation of the story of Jesus’Read More →