Archive for the ‘2011 Lenten Blog’ Category

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  And thank you all for sharing my journey out of the desert.  Joe


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It is a day of waiting.  The worst has happened.  The best has not yet arrived.  Nailed to the cross just yesterday, Jesus is dead, and his death seems to make all that he has done at best irrelevant – and at worst, a cruel joke.  The disciples are scattered, acutely aware of the loss and unable to imagine the new that would destroy death forever.

In the work that the church is called to do among the battered and broken, it is so hard to see the fullest manifestation of the new life and renewed hope that is the fruit of our faithfulness.  So we must live every day in hope, believing that the seeds given to the farmer in Sudan will one day feed his family, and the well that is being drilled will bring the water to a Salvadoran village in need.

Because we do not always see the fruit, we must always believe in the promise that nothing is lost, and that life, not death, is God’s final word. – Duncan Gray III

JW – When my grandfather died; when my dad and much later my wife, died, I just felt numb at first.  Disbelief in the devestating change made me numb, and it was no joke.  However, in those moments afterwards, new life had already destroyed death, and I picked up the pieces, just like we all do, if we have Faith.  I don’t think it was much different all those many years ago.  God’s final word had already been spoken, and in Jesus’ death, God gave His Disciples, and us, the proof.  Jesus’ word and Jesus’ teaching, have never been lost:  the Disciples picked up the pieces.  Jesus, after all, had died, not Faith.  God loved us then, as He does today.  But today, we wait….numb.

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John 19:38-42

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews…And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.  (19:40, 42)

Throughout my adult life as a Christian I have cherished my friendships with skeptics, whether they call themselves agnostics or atheists.  One such friend, who was jolly except when talking about God and the problem of evil, referred to this holy day as Bad Friday.

While his word choices troubled me, I respected that they reflected what he really thought:  That Christians glorify the savage death of Jesus as a good thing – a response my friend decidedly did not consider a good thing.

I, too, would call this day Bad Friday if I thought the burial recorded at John 19:38-42 were the end of the story.  While they are not the conclusion, the death and burial of Jesus mark the turning point of salvation history.  Behold the holy Lamb, provided by God, who takes away the sins of the world. – Douglas LeBlanc

 JW – My thought, on waking this morning was, ‘Oh…this is the sad day’.  After a cup of coffee and reading the above, I thought back to yesterday, and the meaning of Jesus washing His friends’ feet.  When I came out of a coma days away from a year ago, my very first coherent thought was ‘God must have thought I needed a very big message about my lack of power; my inability to manage outcomes; how I needed to let Him run things’.  For me it was an example similar to that of Jesus’.  Big.  Very big.  And it changed my life.  God pointed me in the direction He had shown so many others, so many centuries ago.  My life will never be the same again.  And there are times when my own very big example makes me sad.  But I’m happy for the first time in my life.

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1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.  (10:17)

Jesus spends his last hours with his friends.  The cross looms over the meal.  Jesus takes the role of servant, washing their feet.

With this action, he epitomizes his life and ministry.  He redefines the conventions of this world.  Greatness is defined by servanthood.  Loving God means loving each other.  He is willing to die for this.

We gather at a meal in one place.  There is one bread.  We share.  We break it in many pieces.  Our bodies are fed.  That is life.  At this same table, our souls are fed.

In the same way the bread is broken, the world is broken.  Jesus will be broken.  Yet there is hope.  He leaves us with each other and his Spirit to guide us.

In this last hour, how will we sit at the table together?  How will we share the one bread so that all may be fed? – Karen Montagno

 JW – I struggle with the huge questions posed by the authors of this year’s Lenten Meditations.  Sometimes it overwhelms me when I think about what my part in the healing of the world might be, and it occurs to me this morning that we know something the Disciples didn’t.  We know what happens next.  We also know the Disciples went out after Jesus’ death and resurrection and taught the lessons Jesus had taught them.  With faith.  One foot at a time.  One piece of bread at a time.  I feel a little humble, and grateful that I don’t ever have to be as big a deal as I once thought.

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Philippians 4:1-13

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (4:4-7)

 JW – Well, it’s another day of being overwhelmed by the awesome simplicity of the message.  I just looked at the words above, and felt safe, secure and cozy.  In my own journey, I’m beginning to ask for the things that matter.  Today, I’ll need just as much help as I did yesterday.

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John 12:20-26

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…”  (12:23-24)

In Agua Prieta, by the side of a busy street, there is a large cross fixed to the bars that form the barrier between the United States and Mexico.  Attached to this cross are hundreds and hundreds of white and purple ribbons fluttering in the wind, each having the name of someone who has died in the desert written on it.  At the center of the cross is a wreath of flowers.

It is an Easter cross.  And like Easter itself, it is layered with meaning.  At the commendation of the departed in the funeral liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer gives us these words,; “Even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  Death and resurrection are two aspects of a single reality.

How am I helping to bring life out of death? – Jeffrey Lee

JW – I sometimes wonder if I’m beginning to understand what eternal life really means.  If it is and always has been a part of my life, death is just a blip on the screen, it puts a different perspective on my time here on earth and its simplicity and power are truly magnificent.  Death provides life, and Faith its highway.  If I believe, I must act, and I’m trying.  What a journey out of the desert!  Literally – one single grain of wheat is one of the biggest signposts along the way.

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John 12:9-19

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shout, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord…”  (12:13)

The words of praise captured here in John’s Gospel – “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” – are well known to Anglicans throughout the world.  These words form part of the “sanctus”, which in the Eucharist is part of the response of praise the people make during the Great Thanksgiving.

Yet the people uttering these words of adoration and celebration at the beginning of this week become people who utter words of hatred and anger by the end of the week.  This is the fickle nature of the crowd.  One moment the crowd loves and praises God, the next it becomes cruel and vindictive.

Today, let us give back to God all our confusion and brokenness.  Let us recognize that consistency is not always there.  In the work of witnessing to those in our world who are living in need, we will sometimes have to oppose the fickle crowd.  On this day, let us recommit afresh to being agents of love in this world – ones who are willing to stand up against the crowd. – Ian Markham

 JW – I’m sure I was not the only one feeling teary yesterday; it being difficult to absorb the profound sadness which is as much a part of Holy Week as ressurection and all it implies.  The first thing I felt this morning was how tough change is; how much tougher collective change is.  When I get out of my own way, it’s much easier to say ‘so what!’, and when I can let go of whatever I’ve tried so hard to keep, I am blessed.

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