April 9, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Behold the Lamb!
Welcome to Holy Week!
Seems just yesterday we were here receiving ashes and the invitation to a Holy Lent! I hope yours was as exciting and fruitful as ours has been. New revelation and new challenges are ahead of us.
Next Sunday we will have two guests visiting, our friends from Israel, Yakov and Ruth Dolinsky, AND the director of our Rwandan outreach and development projects, Rev. Pius Nyakayiro will be here as well! Yakov will be preaching on Sunday, so you don't want to miss next week!!
This morning's events, our liturgy of the Palms, our Triumphal Procession, our crying out Hosanna and then the juxtaposition of the Passion Gospel reading and our crying out "Crucify Him!" is a poignant reminder of the condition of our life and faith on this planet! We are like the disciples, basking in the glory of the Triumphal entry on Friday of the week before Passover, and disappearing into the night when the Master is "picked up" by the Temple guards and then turned over to the Romans. It wasn't just Judas, or Peter who betrayed Jesus or denied knowing him. We are all part of the same story line in our daily lives ... and that is exactly the point of today's liturgy!
We are challenged today to hear, to read, and to find ourselves in the drama of the Gospel story of this week. There are so many possibilities! The good, the bad and the ugly! It wasn't just a Clint Eastwood movie.
The good... Mother Mary, so faithful and ever present with her Son throughout this ordeal, in the courtyard of his trial, at his scourging, at the foot of the cross, with John the beloved and with Mary Magdalene. Nicodemas, during the trial and Joseph of Arimathea after the fact, going to Pilate, giving the tomb and helping with the burial. The Centurion's confession at the foot of the cross!
The bad... The disciples beginning with Peter, who denies Jesus outright, almost to his face! The other disciples who simply disappear from the narrative, vanish into the night - back to the Upper Room I suppose to the relative protection of a closed and locked room for fear of the Romans and the Jewish leaders. Fear is the one thing present in all.
and The ugly... Judas. The betrayal, the kiss, the payoff, the regret-filled death. So sad. So little understanding of Jesus and his purpose and person after three years together. Just like the other disciples, only more of a zealot. Prompted to action, possibly to force Jesus' hand to take power.
Of course, the other voices we hear - The high priest, the Sanhedrin, Pilate and his soldiers, the servant girls in the courtyard, Pilate's wife, Claudia, a secret believer history tells us. A host of voices we will see and hear as we read, over and over this week, the accounts of these days in Jesus' life and death.
I point these out so you are aware of all of the possibilities! I urge you to take time each day to reread this morning's two chapters as well as the other chapters of the gospel writers that describe these days.
There is a lot to take in. Four different perspectives on the week before and the days of Jesus' passion. The facts from 4 different narratives. And the deep dive that John makes into the final words of Jesus, the time alone with his Disciples at the Passover, the institution of the Supper of the New Covenant, the Footwashing Lesson, His final promises as they go to the Garden of Gethsemane.
It has taken a host of movies to capture even this last week of Jesus' life.
And the challenge for us is to understand any of it! The words of Jesus to Thomas as he is restored from his disbelief of the other disciples rings in our ears... "blessed are those who have NOT seen, and yet have believed!"
The purpose of the Holy Week services is to help us enter in personally - physically - audibly - viscerally.
Many just skip Maundy Thursday (footwashing is wierd!) (Jus sayin). And Good Friday, how morose can we be?
Isn't it good enough to just do Palm Sunday and Easter? Or how about just Easter?
Well you certainly don't want to miss Easter! That is for sure! But Easter is so much more powerful, if you've walked with Jesus through this week.
So, I invite you in the name of the Church to the Observance of this Holy Week!
Find yourself in the narrative - in the good, the bad or the ugly! Are you the faithful.. or are you among the fearful? Have you cheered Jesus and later betrayed or denied Him?
Watch the movies! The Passion of the Christ - and a new one, Risen! Maybe the week after Easter! What do you do with a Risen Jesus? How do we NOW LIVE? What are the ramifications of a Risen savior - an actual Messiah from God?
These are the questions of the week and of the month ahead, two months as we move toward Pentecost! Put yourself in the picture, in the story, in the narrative, in the characters. Faith or Fear? Betrayal and denial or ? How do we respond to the facts. Is the Resurrection real or a figment of several imaginations? How do we come to be here, in worship, over 2000 years later, if there was a dead Messiah? How? How do you explain the changes in the disciples from coward to martyr - 100% of them! A Lie?!! Are we all lunatics? Or is Jesus LORD?
I invite you. Come along.