April 1, 2018

Easter Day

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. 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.   Mark 16:1-8

 

Christianity is about the resurrection. The tomb is empty, and Jesus was seen alive. We are Christians because Jesus rose from the dead. Run and proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen!

Throughout history, we have attempted to become enlightened. However, the resurrection of Jesus Christ should terrify, humble, astound, and inspire. It turns our feeble pursuits at explanation upside down. Visualize Mary and Mary Magdalene standing at the empty tomb as they touch, hear and see. Witness their unfolding realization that Jesus IS risen. Behold the young man telling them to go and they will “see Him.” The women realize that this was not something that might have happened or an erroneous comforting story. This event eclipsed the premise of a warm spiritual feeling, a good story, or the hope that the cause would continue.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary run in panic because Jesus Christ overcame death and the grave. They are filled with amazement, since we have a new life that is beyond comprehension. Easter is terrifying, in that we are no longer apart from God. We are in a relationship with God through the Son. We have life in Him and then, there is eternal life after life after death. It is a life that we have never seen or encountered before the resurrection of Jesus. It should render our lives transformed. The resurrection is shocking. In the words of Paul, we will appear with Him in all His glory (Col 3:1-4).

This truth should cause us to risk everything. I share this quote by Oswald Chambers: “When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the efficacy of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. I would know Him in ‘the power of His resurrection.’”

Have no fear, for Jesus Christ is not laying in the darkness; Jesus Christ is risen. It is real, is it visible, and we must go and follow Him.

 

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutierrez
XVI Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania

 


O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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March 21, 2018

Wednesday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.   Mark 15:25-27

 

We often assume that Jesus was executed for blasphemy: that the religious authorities simply couldn’t tolerate his claims of divine authority. Two facts belie this assumption. For one, there was a punishment prescribed for blasphemy, and it wasn’t crucifixion. Crucifixion was reserved for enemies of the Roman state: those who had challenged the emperor’s supremacy. It was a public spectacle, an explicit threat to any would-be rabble rousers. Furthermore, as Mark notes in this passage, the accusation against Jesus read, “The King of the Jews.” Only the gospels according to Mark and John include a reference to the inscription of the charge against Jesus. While John tells us that the religious authorities objected, saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, ‘I am King of the Jews,’” Mark allows the charge to stand on its own. In Mark’s gospel, in other words, Jesus was crucified, not for blasphemy, but because he was the “King of the Jews.” This is a subtle, but crucial distinction. Rome decided that Jesus needed to be destroyed not because he violated the Jewish tradition, but because he embodied it completely. Jesus did this by putting his whole trust in God’s saving power. This represented an existential challenge to the emperor’s supremacy, because it fundamentally disrupted the Rome’s ability to secure its position of authority. Most tyrannical regimes coerce obedience by threatening death. By putting his trust in God and going willingly to the cross, Jesus nullified the tyrant’s ultimate threat.

When Jesus is crucified, he demonstrates how the gospel frustrates the powers of the world. The gospel we proclaim is deeply and quietly subversive. It insists that those who claim worldly authority have no real power over us, because Jesus Christ has neutralized their ultimate threat. The season of Lent is an opportunity to acknowledge this truth and recognize that there is nothing we have to fear.

 


For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live unto the Lord, and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Amen.

 

The Rev. David F. Romanik
Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr

March 12, 2018

Monday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.”   Mark 15:1-2

 

There was a pious and faithful Rabbi who lived on the edge of a town. He spent his days in prayer and communion with God. One day a harsh knock on the door jolted him and he greeted several angry men, one of whom said: “Rabbi you will pay for impregnating my daughter!” To which the Rabbi calmly replied: “Is that so?”. They left still angry and bewildered. Many months later after the birth of the daughter’s child, the Rabbi was awakened by another loud knock and greeted the same gang of men who seemed somehow less agitated. “Rabbi I apologize you are not the father of my grandchild” And the reply was stunningly the same: “Is that so?” We humans ask so many questions, especially before we commit to an action. And we often ask those questions hoping for an answer which will clarify or get us off the hook or prove our own misguided point. And so it is with Pilate. Whatever construction Pilate, and the chief priests and elders, has determined is the truth is simply not the Truth. Jesus is! Say what you will; the answer is Always the Same. May we be a people who ask questions which point us to the Truth, which point us to God.

 

The Rev. Dr. Martha Tucker
Saint David’s (Radnor) Church