Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Year B Holy Week Wednesday 2018 Consider Him

Year B Holy Week WEDNESDAY, 28 March 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Consider Him” 
Collect: Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  
Hebrews 12:1-3 Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 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.  Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.  John 13:21-32 At supper with his friends, 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."  

And so it begins. We have reached the point where there is no turning back. “Do quickly what you are going to do.” And Judas did. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.  
If you are familiar with the Seder meal, the ritual remembrance of the Passover, I like to think that Judas was sent out after Jesus dipped the bread into the bitter herbs, the Maror, often horseradish eaten as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. I cannot think but that the dip was as bitter a pill as one could take. But maybe, even then,  Christ offered Grace and dipped the bread into the Charoset, the sweet apple, wine, and nut concoction. We cannot know. 

And in that meal which the the ancestor of our Eucharist, we see that this tradition which came from the night before Redemption of Israel from Egypt echoes the Redemption for us in Good Friday. These rituals, the Seder and the Eucharist, tie to to the past and all that have come before. 

We gather to remember. Re-Member, to re-connect with one another and with Christ. And we are not alone. “[W]e are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” From the earliest of days, Christ’s followers have gathered at his table, at his request, to remember him and re-member with him. This is one of the great parts of our tradition.  

Being raised in a non-liturgical tradition, I was astounded by the wealth and depth of so much I had missed by dis-connecting with what had come before. Many of you recollect the story I told at Ash Wednesday saying as much, that overwhelming feeling of being part of a universal church, a universal cloud coalescing on this singular of individuals, Jesus of Nazareth.  

In our Anglican faith, as Richard Hooker intoned, the three legs of the Anglican stool are Scripture, Reason, and Tradition. A great British preacher spoke on this, and why it is so important to stay connected with what has come before. “Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.” G. K. Chesterton. Going on he says, “...Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom [butler]; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.” 

What we do here today, and tomorrow, and Saturday, and Sunday, connects us with Christ, and brings us into Communion with all that have come before, and all who are doing it in all the world this Holy Week as we follow the one who is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  
 And let the final words in Hebrews stay with us, as we come to his table and we continue into the Triduum: Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. Consider Him.  

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Blessings, Rock