April 7, 2024

Second Sunday of Easter – Bill Harkins

The Collect of the Day: Second Sunday of Easter

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel: John 20:19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,

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March 31, 2024

Easter Sunday – George Yandell

One day, three men were walking along and came upon a raging, violent river. They needed to get across to the other side, but had no idea how to do it. The first man prayed to God saying, “Please, God, give me the strength to cross this river.” Poof! God gave the man big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about two hours.

Seeing this, the second man prayed to God, saying, “Please, God, give me the strength and ability to cross this river.” Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about three hours.

The third man, seeing how things had worked out for the other two, also prayed to God, saying, “Please, God, give me the strength and ability and intelligence to cross this river.” And poof! God turned him into a woman; she looked at the map, then walked across the bridge.

Humor aside, the prominence of women as the initial ones to experience the power of Easter cannot be denied. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to hear the angel say, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised”.

These two Marys were among the brave women who had watched Jesus die his agonizing death. They had followed his lifeless corpse to mark the place where it was entombed by Joseph of Arimathea.

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March 29, 2024

Good Friday – George Yandell

Forty years before the birth of Jesus, Rome’s first heated swimming pool was built on the Esquiline Hill, just outside the city’s ancient walls. The location was a prime one. In time it would become a showcase for some of the wealthiest people in the world.[From Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, Tom Holland, Basic Books, New York, 2019, pp. 21- 24]

Not far from the Esquiline, it took a long time to reclaim the Sessoriumfor gentrification. Years later the vultures still wheeled over that site. This remained what it had always been: The place set aside for the execution of slaves. Exposed to public view like slabs of meat hung from a market stall, troublesome slaves were nailed to crosses.

No death was more excruciating, more contemptable, than crucifixion. To be hung naked, ‘long in agony, swelling with ugly welts on shoulders and chest’, helpless to beat away the clamorous birds: such a fate Roman intellectuals agreed, was the worst imaginable. This was what made it so suitable a punishment for slaves. Lacking such a sanction, the entire order of the city might fall apart. Luxury and splendor such as Rome could boast were dependent on keeping those who sustained it in their place. [ibid]

As Tacitus wrote, “After all, we have slaves drawn from every corner of the world in our households, practicing strange customs, and foreign cults, or none—it is only by means of terror that we can hope to coerce such scum.”

The Romans were reluctant to believe crucifixion had originated with them. Only a barbarous people could have developed such savage,

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March 28, 2024

Maundy Thursday – George Yandell

I’d like to offer a distinction, tiny in some ways, earth-shaking in others. The distinction comes from comments Marcus Borg made on a pilgrimage to Turkey that I took in 2006 with 40 other pilgrims. What would it be like for us instead of saying “We have faith in Jesus,” to say “We have the faith of Jesus?” Do you hear the fine distinction? To claim the faith of Jesus makes me, for one, sit up, take notice, and feel woefully inadequate. On this holy night, the faith of Jesus drives him to offer the most poignant goodbye in religious history.

In everything he did, Jesus disclosed the character of God. Having the faith in God Jesus himself had means we have the passion for doing God’s will, as Jesus did. It means having the confidence in God that Jesus demonstrated the night before he was cruelly tortured and executed by the Roman Empire. It means we participate in the passion for justice Jesus lived each hour of his ministry. Having the faith of Jesus implies the same loyalty to God that Jesus lived up the moment of his death.

There are many overlays in our remembering the last night before Jesus’ crucifixion. First, there was the foot washing. Peter balked, as we heard, at having his feet washed by Jesus. Peter thought it was too embarrassing, too demeaning for Jesus to do so. But as he washed the feet of his closest friends,

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