Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lenten Reflection - April 5, 2015 Easter

Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.
Luke 20:36

This passage is a response from Jesus to the Sadducees, who believed that there was no resurrection from the dead and that there were no angels or spirits. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection from the dead and in angels and spirits.

The Sadducees declared they could not believe in the resurrection because there was no information about it and no proof of it, in the Books of the law, which Moses was held to have written.

So far no Rabbi had been able to meet them on that ground, but Jesus did. He pointed out that Moses himself had heard God say, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. (Exodus 3:1-6) and that it was impossible that God should be the God of the dead. Therefore Abraham and Isaac and Jacob are still alive in the life to come.

For us, Jesus is living proof that the dead "cannot die anymore". We are "children of the resurrection". Alleluia!

Bill Ticknor+

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lenten Reflection - April 4, 2015 Holy Saturday

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24

Through love, humility and duty to God the Father, Christ accepted the unacceptable – first to be burdened with ugly, hateful sin, then to be punished, and then to die for those sins.

It must have been so painful for one so pure, with a soul unsullied and a mind focused on love and goodness, to experience the evil thoughts we all have, let alone imagine the most evil deeds that permeate mankind. Christ, like an innocent lamb, not only had to take on the sins of the wolfish heart, but he also was punished as if those sins were, indeed his own.

As a light from heaven, Christ submitted to being sullied and darkened. Prayerfully, but dutifully he drank our cup of fleshly poison. But, while his flesh was broken, the light of God was not. With his rising, the pure light shone as a beacon – calling each of us to slip from our sin, and rise in love. With his sacrifice, the sinful bonds that tied each of us to evil, and to hell, was carried away, and the door to live everlasting was opened.

It is up to us, however – to walk through that gate, into life everlasting. What a curiosity that this is often a very difficult task for us mortals to accomplish.

Joanne Howl

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lenten Reflection - April 3, 2015 Good Friday

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
John 19:18

These are probably the most sorrowful words to be encountered in the Bible. The mental picture they paint is ingrained in every Christian, and probably most people in the entire world. The agony of crucifixion is an unbearable weight that most of us avoid thinking about. But every year we are reminded of a man without sin, betrayed by a friend, condemned by the mob, brutally beaten and ultimately nailed to a cross. There's nothing good about this. Every aspect of this screams "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Today, for as long as we can bear it, let us carry the weight of that cross by remembering that Christ died for us, willingly, unselfishly, and in love with those same people who condemned him. Then let us consider the other two hanging on either side. Today let them be me and you. Let us wholly embrace the love being poured out for us by inwardly accepting the words taught us in Galations 2:19-20, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. Today, more than any other day, let us live for Christ in thought, word and deed. Let us love our neighbor. Let us open our hearts and ask God to forgive us. Let us be made new.

Earl Buffaloe

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lenten Reflection - April 2, 2015 Maundy Thursday

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:20

"... in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell..."

Through the human person of Jesus, God was able to show us God's love, to show us how to love. In I John 4:19, we read "We love because he first loved us." Now, what can that mean? James Mackey, in "Jesus, the Man and the Myth" writes that we humans need to "first feel the grace of some human presence, feel forgiven, accepted, served [before we can] then feel all life and existence as grace, and then feel inspired to be gracious to others. [Most of us] can only sense ourselves and our world valued and cherished by God when we feel valued and cherished by others." So it is through Jesus' love for us that we can come to know, appreciate, be "reconciled to" the immense love God has for us. Jesus was willing to die on the cross for this love. In Jesus' death, we can know God suffers. We can know God walks with us in our suffering, weeps with us in our times of trouble. In Jesus' death we can know God understands what we go through. And in Jesus' resurrection, God tells us that God is always with us, that life with God begins right now, and is infinite and never-ending. Amen to that!

Patti Sachs

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lenten Reflection - April 1, 2015

"... looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

The biggest message I draw from the story of Jesus and his passion is that God wants us to love one another in the way that Jesus loved us: with total selflessness. Jesus demonstrated his selfless love for people by dying for them in a brutal and painful way, while enduring the shame that those same people held him in. We are to look to Jesus as an example of how to love one another, and also find in him the comfort that our God loves us more than we can imagine.

This passage made me ask this of myself: "When is the last time I disregarded my own interests and did something purely for the sake of someone else?" I wasn't entirely pleased when I found the answer. When I step back I realize my life is full of transactions; trading one thing for another. But God tells us that sometimes we need to get over our own wants and give without taking.

Bryan Howl

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 31, 2015

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:17

Although some choose to give many gifts to the church, every Christian has a particular calling that Christ has chosen for him or her. In Paul's case, he knows that Christ has called him to the ministry of preaching over any tasks, such as baptism, that he may have performed for the church in its infancy. Once accepting his be a preacher, he adapts that call to his particular rhetorical style, using gifts that Christ has specifically provided for him.

Do we always hear the call? Or, if we are aware of what we have been called to do, do we follow through? Do we question whether our gifts are sufficient for the task? When is the right time to begin that ministry?

For many years, I felt that St. James' must minister to the spiritual needs of ill or homebound parishioners, and that this was not the exclusive job of the clergy. Discerning in EfM that this was my calling, I contacted those in charge of providing food to the sick and offered to also bring communion. No response. So, I waited.

Finally, Deacon Bob McCoy started the Eucharistic visitor ministry. I volunteered and eventually was asked to lead the program, using my talents and those of a cadre of volunteers. I can honestly say that I've never had a better or more satisfying job. And I know, at least for now, that this is the job that Christ wants me to perform.

May each of us hear his or her call and be empowered to follow through.

Charlie Wolf

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 30, 2015

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
John 19:19

All four Gospels agree that the official charges against Jesus were his supposed claim to be "King of the Jews" – which made him a potential threat. There are many ironies here.

First, "king" is a title Jesus refused, probably because it was so open to misunderstanding.
Second, from our Christian perspective, the charge is correct. We honor "Christ the King," even through he is not the kind of King Pilate had in mind.
Third, they are executing Jesus to put an end to his supposed "kingship" and Jesus becomes a king precisely through his death and resurrection.
Fourth, two other criminals accompanied Jesus on the cross - his "royal attendants" of the king. Jesus was use to this kind of company. He came for the "lowlifes"….which is to say that he came for us sinners.

~Now that's my kind of king!

Lent is a time of conversion. From Ash Wednesday when ashes are placed on my forehead with the words, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". It ends Easter Day when we reach into the baptismal water and renew our "YES" to Gods invitation to "come, follow me". Take a moral inventory of your life and celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation during Lent. May God who begins this good work in me, sustain me along the way and bring it to completion.

Patty Coleman