April 2012


Easter Sunday: April 8                                                     

Mark 16:1-8

            When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.

             As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

             So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

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Christ is risen!  Christ is risen, indeed!

 

            On this most holy of days the Church proclaims with great joy and fanfare that Jesus lives.  This morning and throughout the day our hearts are full and our bodies feel like dancing.  Deep in our bones we just know that we are indeed Easter people.  So let us sing, and shout, and dance, and love, and feast, for the time is right!  This day is made for life, and for the life of all that God has created.  Redemption is sweet and real. 

            Yet still an honest account will reveal that we have places and situations that are hard.  In the midst of the world we acknowledge that in many ways we are still entombed, and in many places stones seem insurmountable.  But today we are not to be alarmed, for in spite of all that surrounds us, we greet hope anew.  It is Easter; we know that we are all right.  It is Easter and the teaching is that Jesus lives and that life beats death.  Today we know that the life-giving gift of the Risen One goes into all places of our lives – even our tombs, and paths that are blocked by large rocks! 

            So who will roll away the stones for us?  Today, the answer is clear!  Church, today may we celebrate a Blessed Happy Easter!

For life abundant, Risen One, we pray with thankful hearts.

Rev. Thaddaeus B. Allen

Regional Minister

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Holy Saturday: April 7                                

Lamentations 3.1-9,19-24

I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath;

he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;

against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;

he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;

he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;

he has put heavy chains on me;

though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;

he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,

he has made my paths crooked.

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!

My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

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            It is one of those times: life is a grizzly lying in wait for me; wolves, red eyes glaring, circle for the kill.

            My teeth grind on gravel; my dreams are a scream in the night—but mostly sleep does not come and I am lost, at 3:00 a.m., in darkness without light. The hard grip of God’s wrath breaks my bones; my burning flesh wastes away. I am walled off from life; my weakened legs walk a wobbly line. I shout my lamentations! Even my prayers are shut out.  The hand of God has been turned against me and I sit in the darkness of the dead.

 

            Even there I have hope.

 

            The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

In the bone snap of God’s wrath,

God’s mercies do not an end.

In the silent, empty dark

God’s mercies I see.

They are new every morning.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I will have hope in my God!”

Rev. Dr. Larry Grimes

Bethany College

Good Friday: April 6                                                   

Romans 6.3-11

            Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

             We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

             We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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            Today is Good Friday, and for most Christians it will not register on their activity calendars. Few will pause to reflect upon the meaning of the crucifixion and fewer still will take time for a worship service. This passion story is painful to consider and not uplifting in the struggles of our daily lives. So we opt to wait the few extra days for Easter.

            We may not be required to consider Good Friday, but we all do wrestle with death and dying, whether our own decline and reminders of aging, or the death of a friend. Psychologists tell us that most fear the unknown of dying. Paul reminds us that for Christians we have already had experience with death. Through our baptism into Christ, we have died with him, and now on the other side, we can live without that fear. Experience does matter!

God of life, having shared in Christ’s death, help us to live in Christ’s grace.

Rev. Dr. Darwin Collins

Christian Church Foundation

Holy Thursday: April 5                                    

John 13:1-17, 31b-35       

            Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.

            And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

            He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”    Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

             Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

             Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

             After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

            “ Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

            “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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            Our Lord has packed a whole lot of teaching into a few words (and even more so into a few actions) in John’s narrative of the Last Supper.

            Jesus disrobes, girds himself with a towel and washes the disciples’ feet.  If he said nothing at all there is a powerful message in this action.  He humbles himself and serves those around him.  That is a remarkable statement of the Christian vocation.  Be humble, serve others

            He then tells us that we require his cleansing, even if we think we are clean!  The blemishes that concern the Lord are not only our individual faults but the failings of his body, the church.  Individually and corporately we need to keep returning to him for a foot washing.  Moreover, we are to continue his model of service by serving others.

            This remarkable passage concludes with the resounding command to love one another.  This network of love is the sign to the world that we are Christ’s and Christ defeats sin and death through love.

Loving God, on this holy day when we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, we pray for a cleansing of your church and each disciple

in order that we may offer unto you a worthy sacrifice

of praise and thanksgiving.

Rev. Dr. William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

Holy Wednesday: April 4                                            

John 13:21-32

            After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.

            One of his disciples–the one whom Jesus loved–was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

             Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”   Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

             When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”

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What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
            what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
            to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
            to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

 

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
            when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
            Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
            Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

 

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
            to God and to the Lamb I will sing!
To God and to the Lamb, who is the great “I AM,”
            while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
            while millions join the theme, I will sing!

                                    Appalachian folk hymn.  12.9.12.12.9

Holy Tuesday: April 3                                                           

John 12:20-36  

            Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

            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. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

             “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

             The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

             Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

             The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

             Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

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            Like many people, David and I tend to leave a light on in the house at night.  Not sure why, at least in this house.  The light is usually on in the downstairs back of the house, and we’re asleep in the upstairs front, so when we wake up it’s very dark where we are, at least in this time of the year.  We’ve had children and grandchildren who were/are afraid of the dark.  And even as adults we have that fear of the unknown, the great void, the darkness that can seem to envelop and overwhelm our lives.  But we are reminded that we have a light in our lives that cannot be extinguished, a light to guide our paths, not just for physical movement, but guide the direction of our lives no matter how “dark” it is around us.  We are invited into the light, to walk with Jesus as children of the light.  What hope, what joy, what comfort is our God!

I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus. 

God set the stars to give light to the world, the star of my life is Jesus. 

In him there is no darkness at all, the night and the day are both alike. 

The lamb is the light of the city of God: 

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.”   

            (I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light, by Kathleen Thomerson)

Rev. Jayne L. Chafin

Parkersburg, WV

Holy Monday: April 2                                                                

John 12:1-11   

            Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

             But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”  (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

             Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

             When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

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            Here’s a story that “is what it is.”  It stands on its own.  I wonder if I’m verging on sacrilege to try to expound upon the gift of this episode in the Passion story? 

            In this act by the sister of Lazarus – from a family of some means – all sorts of images are stirred for us.  But among the many gifts the story has brought to the Church through all the centuries, perhaps one of the most enduring ones is created by the argument of Judas Iscariot. 

            How can we invest in cathedrals and art and music when people are hungry?  How can we tend to the Holy when there’s justice to be done in this world?  How can the offspring of the Holy One put energy into creating liturgy that lasts for only moments, when there are unmet needs in the community that go on and on? 

            I wonder if Jesus’ reply would raise the counter-question, “How can we not?” 

Lord, you do not bring easy answers to our most hastily-offered assertions.

In this, you have blessed your Church with food worth chewing on.

Rev. David T. Chafin

Deputy Regional Minister

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