March 20, 2018

Tuesday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.   Mark 15:21-24


Here is Mark’s stark description of the utter disregard for the Son of God. The rejection is so clear, in both its physical and emotional depiction, no one can miss the cruelty, callousness, and inhumanity. The scene is haunting.

The Crucifixion of Christ is always a shaking experience for any willing to think about this account. Whether the reader believes that Christ is “The Best Man who ever lived” or not, any serious observer of Mark’s account cannot dodge the realization that Jesus Christ willingly gave his life to an agonizing death to make a point for your life and mine. The message is forever clear: the love of God for all does not “cut and run,” even and especially in the face of worldly opposition and personal torture. That is simply the powerful truth of our faith in God. God’s love is real.

A lovely friend of mine took his own life. He left a note apologizing to his young wife and children. The note explained he feared he was “losing his mind” and did not want to use the family’s meager savings for his possible recovery. His death was devastating to his family and friends. The lingering family fear was that he would not enter God’s Heavenly Kingdom because he had committed the sin of suicide. When eventually they shared that fear with their rector, he responded, “How can that be?” Then he proceeded to suggest that Christ also suffered emotionally as well as physically on the Cross to make sure we know that God is in the midst of all such suffering with redemptive and eternal loving care especially for those who experience the worst of this world’s consequences.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is indeed so stark we cannot avoid the sense of devastation. The suffering of others is usually less dramatic and apparent, unless it is our own. All suffering is known to God. As we pay attention to it – and love the sufferer – perhaps beginning with our own and extending outward to others, we draw ourselves into God’s company.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, and to us sinners, everlasting grace and glory, for with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign one God, now and forever. Amen.


The Rev. Bill Wood
St. David’s Church, Radnor


March 17, 2018

Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.” Mark 15:16-17


Jesus is clothed in symbols of royalty, a purple cloak and a crown, not because the people seek to make him king, but in order to humiliate and shame him. The authorities make a mockery of him and Jesus is the innocent victim of the hatred of human beings. This suffering servant’s kingship is really a kinship. He is one with us, one with all those who suffer humiliation and shame. He understands our pain and stands with us fully and completely. He knows the pain of those who are maligned and victimized. Our redeemer, king, stands with those who are tormented by and ravaged by opioid addiction. He bears the scars of those who have been physically and sexually abused, victims of predators who seek to exert their power and exploit. He knows the humiliation of those who live in poverty, who lack the security of a warm home, and who beg for their next meal. He walks with the immigrant living in fear of deportation and knows the painful wandering of refugees seeking a homeland. This suffering servant king stands before all of these tormented people and each of us who bears the scars of our own emotional, physical or psychological struggles and says: “You are not alone. I am with you.”

This king of compassion wants us to know that not only are we not alone, but also that there is no suffering, not even death itself, that can put an end to God’s love for us. It is a forever love, one that saves and liberates, restores dignity and gives us all hope for new and lasting life. Let us use this Lenten time to re-discover the depth of God’s saving, compassionate love for us all.


Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.


The Rev. John W. Sosnowski
Christ Church, Ithan

March 10, 2018

Saturday after the Third Sunday in Lent

And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14: 69-72


I have grown to admire and love Peter more and more. As a child, Peter was presented to me as the most Holy and Perfect of the Saints, holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and head of the Church on Earth. He was so perfect and saintly that he seemed aloof and out of reach. However, when I read the Gospels and Acts on my own, I came to see Peter as a person full of flaws. He was impulsive, rough, outspoken, crass and surly. He failed Jesus many times. Even in Jesus’ darkest hour, Peter denied knowing Jesus. I came to see Peter through a looking glass that reflected the person I was – flawed, insensitive, impulsive, and sinful. As a result, I found hope in Peter. If Jesus was willing to empower Peter and give Peter authority, then perhaps, Jesus would empower me to live out my vocation in order to build the kingdom of God here on earth in spite of my flaws, sins, and shortcomings. I grew to love Peter not because he was superhuman but because he was truly human, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, often putting his foot in his mouth, and even prone to violence as when he cut off Malchus’ ear. Peter did protest that he didn’t know Jesus and through his remorse and tears came to face the reality of his own ugliness. As a result, he realized that Jesus loved him for who he was. By coming to know his true and authentic self, Peter realizes that he was finally seeing what Jesus Christ saw and the reality that Christ loved him anyway. In the end, Peter came to love himself and love God and was willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even his own life. May we have such hope.


The Rev. Tim Gavin
The Episcopal Academy