Verse of the Day

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fifth Sunday in Lent - Passion Sunday


Passion Sunday
Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday in Lent, and the first Sunday in Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on Passion Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter).

All crosses, pictures, images are covered with opaque purple veils and Gloria Patri is omitted during this period. Passion Sunday is so-called because in the gospel for that day (John 8: 46-59) Jesus begins his sufferings by being stoned out of the temple.  Under the old calendar, Passion Sunday was also known as Judica Sunday, after that day's Introit: "Judica me, Deus" ("Judge me, O Lord") from Psalm 42 (43), and was called Black Sunday in Germany. This alternate name originates from the fact that after Passion Sunday, the Judica Psalm was not said again until Easter; the German title comes from the old practice of veiling the crosses and statues in the church on that day.

The Roman Catholic Church has completely suppressed Passiontide and eliminated Palm Sunday during the course of abandoning much of the Christian history and doctrine.  They now refer to Palm Sunday as “Passion Sunday.”  Traditional catholics[1] still observe Passiontide as well as its rites and ceremonies.  Passiontide is observed in the Anglican Communion.

Propers
The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle for today, which came from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, starting at the Eleventh Verse of the Ninth Chapter.  Paul summarizes both the symbolism and the substance of the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf.  Paul opens the secret of the One Perfect Sacrifice, One Time, for All Time and All Mankind.  Paul is clearly appealing to the sense of the Jews when he asks them if the blood of goats will set aside or atone for sin, how much more can be done by the Perfect Sacrifice made on our behalf?

C
HRIST being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read this morning’s Gospel which comes from the Gospel of Saint John, starting at the Forty-Sixth Verse of the Eighth Chapter and tells the story of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees in the temple.  Like much of John it is filled with deep explanation of Jesus and His purpose here. 

Knowing them looking to find the worst in Him, Jesus asked, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?”  In a point central to Christianity, he went on, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”  When we hear the term Jews here, we should hear the world in general, for He spoke to all who would not hear.  When they would not hear, He pointed out He sought not glory or praise from them, but only from the Father whom in reality they knew not.  Here He offers the singular benefit of Christianity, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”  This concept being foreign to them, they asked if He thought He was greater than Abraham.  That brought the crowning touch, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.”  Knowing He was only in his early 30s, they could not grasp how he could have seen Abraham.

In a demonstration of the non-linearity of God’s time, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.[2]  As might be expected, this offended the Keepers of The Law.

J
ESUS said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words:  ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… thy people; … by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …

In the Collect, we ask God to let us allow us to look to Him for leadership and direction that we might be saved, both our physical bodies and souls.  For, if we do not look to God for our guidance and direction we are surely lost like a man in the wilderness without a compass.

If we look to Him for guidance, we then look to Him for safety.  Pretty clearly the Mosaic law with its 613 rules did not really work to save mankind.  The constant sacrifice of animals could not make us accounted for perfect in God’s eye.  We were always destined to fail.  We could not make the grade on our own.

Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day.  While if we follow His Word, we will be better than we will if we do not, we will not be perfect.  Thus, without the sacrifice of His Son, we will not make the cut.  We will end up in the pit.  We need that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time

In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if we believe in Him and keep His Word, then we shall make our seamless journey from the Shadowlands to His Home.  The Pharisees, for the most part, could not conceive, or would not conceive, that God would send His Son to this world for us.  Yet, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life[3].

Who is Jesus?  Our Savior?  Indeed.  But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is one with I Am.

Through His Actions, we are saved.

Do ye likewise:

ACT

It is by our actions we are known.
Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
Bishop Jerry is back from his South Pacific odyssey and on line.  We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today we get a brilliant and inspiring sermon based on the parable of the vineyard with perhaps a twist:

Sermon Notes for PASSION SUNDAY
25 March 2012 Anno Domini


W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. 14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. 17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. (Luke 20:9-19)

The Lord often refers to His people as a Vineyard, or a Garden.

The Song of Solomon is full of illustrations of the relationship of Christ to His Bride, the Church: A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.  Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, (Song 4:12-13)

God has made a fence around His people to keep the world from coming into it. Our behaviors and associations are hedged about so that we do not grow wild as the tares and briars of the field.

The parable today comes after Christ has vanquished the Sanhedrin in their attempt to undermine Him in the Temple when they demanded to know by what authority Jesus spoke these things. Jesus exposed their treachery and ignorance publicly.

Now He speaks to the people, but subtly to priest present as well.

He makes reference to a certain man… the Lord of Hosts.

 9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

a certain man planted a vineyard;
the people of the Jews are identified by the vineyard; the "certain man" is the Lord of hosts; the planting of it is His bringing and settling the people Israel in the land of Canaan.

Matthew, in the same account, adds: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen (Matt 21:33)

He hedged it about to keep the world out (as in SS 4:12-13).

He digged a winepress in it – perhaps an allusion to His sacrifice in blood of purchasing His people out of their sins and bondage.

Built a Tower – set watchers over the people to warn them of thieves and unsavory types who would attempt to invade the garden.,and let it forth to husbandmen; the husbandmen here referred to are those rulers of Israel whose duty it was to preach and to teach, to counsel and to warn.
 and went into a far country for a long time; 
the time from the giving of the Law until Christ.

10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. 11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.

God sent His prophets unto them. Their treatment of the prophets was a gradually escalating trend of cruelty and ill-treatment. Jeremiah was imprisoned, Isaiah was sawn asunder. Abel was murdered by his own brother, Cain. They laughed at Hosea and Noah.

13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.

Finally, God determines it is time to send His Only Begotten Son. He did so wittingly, knowing that they would treat Him with harshness and even murder Him.

14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him

This exposes the greed and jealousy of the Jewish leaders in wanting to destroy Christ. They knew full well that He was the Heir of the Father, yet they wanted no interference with their own power.

They had Christ beaten, taken outside the gates of the City – Via Dolorsa – and finally murdered Him.
What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?

If you were a powerful King who sent His Son to claim the fruits of His own Garden, and the keepers murdered Him, what would YOU do?

16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others
Christ would take the Kingdom from the Jews and give it to a nation bearing the fruits thereof. Remember His rebuke to the Jewish leaders? 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matt 21:42-43)

And when they heard it, they said, God forbid It is abundantly clear by their response that they knew Christ spoke of them (the Jewish leaders).

17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The very cornerstone of the Great Pyramid at Giza lay half buried at its base and kept getting in the way of the workers. They often cursed the stone until, nearly completed with the pyramid, they discovered that this was the capstone. By that time, it was too late to erect it to the top of the structure. So the Great Pyramid remains unfinished without its capstone. Without Christ as the Chief Cornerstone of our Church, we are unfinished. In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. (Isaiah 19:19-20)

The Dollar Bill depicts that Chief Cornerstone above the pyramid on the National Seal.

19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them

There is an old adage that says: If the shoe fits, wear it! The shoe did fit the Jewish leaders and they were incensed to the point of desiring to murder Christ on the spot – but they feared the people – they were political creatures and must consider how they would be viewed by the people. They would, rather, allow Rome to do their dirty deed of murder.

We are that Vineyard to which Christ refers. He has planted us, purchased us, and set watchers on the towers above us to keep us from error.

He has made a winepress, flowing with His own blood and sacrifice, in the midst of the Vineyard.

He has hedged us about to keep us separated from the world and its weeds of sin.

Have you heeded the watchman's warning of the world of sin and filth?

Have you remained within the limits of behavior that God has set for you?

Have you drunk from the winepress of His Blood shed for you?

Are you eager for the return of the Owner and Heir of the Vineyard, or do you tremble to know that He is Coming to receive His own and to judge those who have not been faithful?

Decide today upon which side of the Line of Decision you shall stand at His coming.

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has an excellent command of scripture and is able to present it in a manner which is completely understandable to the rest of us.  This year’s sermons are being drawn from the book of Psalms, or, as it is known by Anglicans, "The Psalter" which begins on page 343 of the Book of Common Prayer.  Today he discussed the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 51.  We think you will really enjoy it!

The God Who Suffers for Us
Psalm 51, Hebrews 9:11-15, John 8:46-59
Passion Sunday
25 March 2012



G
RANT, O Lord, that by thy holy Word read and preached in this place, and by thy Holy Spirit grafting it inwardly in the heart, the hearers thereof may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and may have power and strength to fulfill the same.
Psalm 51. Miserere mei, Deus.

H
AVE mercy upon me, O God, after thy great good- ness; * according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
2 Washmethroughlyfrommywickedness,*andcleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my faults, * and my sin is ever be- fore me.
4 Against thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; * that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou shalt judge.
5 Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, * and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
6 But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts, * and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
7 Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; * thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness, * that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Turn thy face from my sins, * and put out all my mis- deeds.
10 Make me a clean heart, O God, * and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence, * and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
12 O give me the comfort of thy help again, * and stab- lish me with thy free Spirit.
13 Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked, * and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou that art the God of my health; * and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.
15 Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord, * and my mouth shall show thy praise.
16 For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee; * but thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
17 The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: * a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
18 O be favourable and gracious unto Sion; * build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations; * then shall they offer young bullocks upon thine altar.

Most people would define "passion" as strong feelings or intense desires.  But in earlier times, such as the time the King James Version was translated, passion was understood in more accordance with its Greek roots.  For, like so many of our English words, passion came into English from the Greek language, and the Greek word means to suffer, to experience intense and painful suffering.  It is the word used in Acts 1:3, which says Jesus "shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs.

Today, Passion Sunday, we recall the suffering of Christ through the phony trial, the crown of thorns, the beating, the rejection, the death on the cross, and, worst of all, bearing the wrath of God for our sins.  The Collect asks God to govern and preserve His people, meaning those who are forgiven and cleansed by the Passion of Christ.  Hebrews 9 reminds us that Christ suffered voluntarily, offering up Himself as the only offering that can effectively cover our sin.  John 8 recalls the Jewish leaders rejecting Christ, which led to their turning Christ over to the Romans to suffer crucifixion.  Psalm 51 applies the Passion of Christ to the very personal needs each of us has before God.  It is about the reason why Christ had to offer Himself up as our sacrifice.  It is about our need for Christ's Passion.

The Psalm was written by David shortly after his sin with Bathsheba.  We all know that David desired Bathsheba, and that he arranged for her husband to be placed on the front line of a fierce battle where he would almost certainly be killed.  David did this to try to cover up his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, which had resulted in her pregnancy.  It didn't work.  His sin was found out, and many were forced to reap its bitter fruits.  Psalm 51 is a song of great sorrow and penance.  Finally, probably as he waited and prayed that the very sickly baby born of his sin, would live, David began to realise the depth and wickedness of his sin, the lives he had ruined and the lives he had cost.  He finally began to realise the odiousness of his sin in the eyes of God.  The first four verse of the Psalm express David's broken-hearted and shame-filled confession of his sin.  "I acknowledge my faults," my transgressions, the many times I have intentionally broken the holy Law of God.  "My sin," my rebellion, my evil, "is ever before me."  David says, I can't stop thinking about it.  I can't get it out of my mind. It haunts me like the gates of hell chasing after me day and night.

Our sins may be different from David's, but every honest person can see himself in Psalm 51.  We recognise that we have done things that have affected the lives of many other people.  We have caused unnecessary pain, worry, and sorrow as we manipulated circumstances and used, or ignored, people to get what we want instead of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor (mother, father, daughter, son, fellow Christian) as our selves according to the pure and righteous Law of God.  Maybe you have never physically committed adultery, but you have committed it in your heart.  Maybe you never physically killed another person, but you have acted hatefully and wickedly toward people.  You have assassinated people's character, or you have made their lives a living death by your failure to live out your God-given responsibilities. And you know the words of Romans 3:23 express the truth about you when they say, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

One of the verses we often read in Lent is Joel 2:13, "Rend your heart and not your garments."  In Biblical times people expressed intense sorrow or repentance by tearing the bodice of their robes.  As you can imagine, some people tore their robes without really feeling the sorrow and without repenting.  The forms have changed, but the practice continues today, for many church people continue in their old, sinful habits and patterns of life while outwardly preserving the appearance of a Godly, Christian life.  In so doing they are rending their "garments" while their hearts decay within them.  It is so easy to go through the outward forms of worship and prayer and say the right words of confession and repentance and faith in Christ, yet never really mean them, never really do what we say with our lips.  That is rending the garment instead of the heart.  It is an outward show of repentance that is not meant in the heart.  God detests such shows.  God tells us to rend our hearts.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.  God wants hearts that are broken over sin.  God wants hearts that ache over the evil that is in us.  God wants hearts that are ready to be made new, whose deepest and most intense prayers are not, Lord, give me more of the toys of earth, but, Lord create in me a clean heart.

I truly hope this day, your heart is broken over your own sin.  I hope it weighs you down like an elephant standing on your soul.  Because when it weighs you down like that, then you are ready to let God do something about it.  Then you are willing to let, even, beg God to create in you a clean heart.

I'm not just talking about forgiveness.  Most people only want forgiveness from God.  They only want to be released from the penalty of sin; they don't want to become new creatures.  They don't want to "live a godly, righteous and sober life."  They have no intention of giving up themselves to God's service or living before Him in holiness and righteousness all their days.  But again, that is rending their garments instead of their hearts.

The good news is, God is the God of all grace and the Father of all mercies.  He is more than willing to forgive the sins of all who are penitent.  Christ "came into the world to save sinners."  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  His very dying words were, "Father, forgive them."  That's why He went to the cross.  He suffered the wrath of God for you, in your place.  Instead of justly punishing your for your sins, He bore His wrath in Himself on the cross.  He became your sacrificial Lamb, and He forgives the sins of all who call upon Him in Biblical faith.

But He does not merely forgive our sins and leave us to follow the same old self-destructive habits and patterns.  He changes us.  This is one of the most important teachings in all of the Bible.  God changes us.  We don't have to repeat the same old sins.  We can be different.  Life can be different.  God intends it to be.  David prays in verse 10, "Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  This same concept is taught throughout the Bible, and one of its clearest expressions is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ," meaning to trust in Christ to forgive your sins in Biblical faith, "he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  God is about making new creatures out of us, changing our values, our hope, our desires, our thoughts, and our actions.  He is about changing our entire view of life.  He is about making us new in the likeness of the love and peace and joy of Christ.
 --
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

What is Holy Week?  Some kind of Roman thing?
Not Roman at all, Christian.  In fact, the Romans have abandoned or ignored much of the week.  The term covers Palm Sunday through Easter.

The Sunday next before Easter is commonly referred to as Palm Sunday.  The period between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is often referred to as Holy Week.  Most churchgoing people go to church on Palm Sunday, then to church on Easter Sunday. It’s a fairly uplifting time with not a lot of thinking. On Palm Sunday Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Easter Sunday there’s the joyous resurrection. What’s not to like about that?

The thing is, there is a tremendous amount that goes on between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, not all of it joyous, in fact most of it is pretty scary or sad.   The beginning of the week was wonderful; in the end the week was even more wonderful.  In between was a series of ups and downs the ups a little high and the downs very very deep. It is important to remember as you go through Holy Week that Jesus was in control of all the events of the week.  The week starts with the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ends with the death of the Savior on the Cross and the burial of his body in the tomb.  It is a week of ups and downs without parallel, the ups a little high and the downs very, very deep, deep as Hell you might say, and precedes the most joyous day of the year, the Day of the Resurrection or Easter Sunday.

Jesus has a triumphant entry into the city on the First Day of the Week (Sunday); on Thursday night he celebrates the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, he prays and agonizes over what he knows is coming in the garden of Gethsemane; Judas betrays him early Friday morning, his most trusted disciple denies him, not once but three times before the cock crew; the Jews condemn him to Pilate who in turn orders him to be beaten and humiliated; that does not satisfy the Jews and at their request, Pilate condemns a man he knows to be innocent to a horrible death to pacify the crowd of Jews assembled by the priests; Jesus is crucified, asks John to take care of his mother and gives up the ghost; his body is taken down and buried; the disciples are dispersed and discouraged; they have listened to their Lord, but not understood.

Think of this week from the disciples’ perspective, on the first day they enter with their leader into Jerusalem in triumph; mid-week they celebrate the joyous feast of the Passover, then their leader is betrayed, defends himself not and is killed.  At the time they surely could not think of this as a Holy Week and certainly not a Good Friday.  Yet on the first day of the week that follows, our Lord is Risen, Risen indeed and delivers the promise of salvation in person.

It is important to remember as you go through Holy Week that Jesus was in control of all the events of the week.

What a week!

Palm Sunday
The name Palm Sunday comes from the palm leaves, along with clothing and other honors strewn along Jesus’ path as He came in to Jerusalem the first day of the week before His crucifixion.  Of interest, only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion, every one else, including Jews, Romans and the Christians, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. The moon was almost full, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel.  Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate.  The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives.  They expected Him to come in and proclaim His rule.  And that He did, but not in the way the people were looking for.     Those who thought of Him as Lord looked for a Kingdom of this World to be established. Sunday was a day of triumph and fulfilled the anticipation of the Jews of a day for which they had waited four centuries.  The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture.  They were certain that He would free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule.  The Jews would finally be on top of the power pyramid.  They would rule the world under Him!  Yet, that was not to be.  The day in the temple!  Holy Cow!  Here their savior was throwing people out of the temple, not throwing the Romans out of Jerusalem.  They were sad to learn He came not to rule this world, for that time was not yet come; He came to give them the key to eternal salvation.  He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom.  They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life.  What a disappointment!

Monday
On Monday, Jesus preached in the Temple and further distanced Himself from the people’s vision and demonstrated God’s vision.  He went in to the temple and through out the vendors selling “sacrificial” birds and animals at exorbitant cost, as well as the moneychangers, changing Roman money for Temple money dishonestly.  Far from announcing Himself head of the temple, He announced they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Rather than working within the Jewish establishment, He over turned it!

Tuesday
Jesus and the Pharisees dispute in the Temple. He left for the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. There he delivers the “Mount of Olives Discourse”. Judas agrees to betray him to the Jewish priests for 30 pieces of silver.

Wednesday
The Sanhedrin was gathered together and decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, keeper of the purse, were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor.  Jesus reminded them of the importance of first things first and the futility of giving, rather than helping, when He said in Matthew 26.11 “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.”  Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for silver. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Judas spied on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane where he came on his plan.

Maundy Thursday
At the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples share the “Last Supper” and He washes their feet. Jesus blesses his bread and wine as his flesh and blood and shares it with his disciples, the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He informs them that one of them will betray him. They go back to the garden of Gethsemane.

Good Friday
In the early hours before sunup, Jesus is betrayed by the “Judas Kiss” and arrested. At sunrise, he is disowned by Peter thrice before the cock croweth. When brought before Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, and his Council, he is condemned. He says that he will rise from death after three days.

They hand him over to the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, who sends him to Herod (Antipas, the son of Herod the Great). Then Pilate asks the crowd who he is to pardon: a murderer, or Jesus? The crowd chooses Barabas and Jesus is sentenced to death.

Jesus is brought to Calvary, where on the “third hour” (9 am) he is crucified. He is mocked as he hangs between the Bad Thief and the Good Thief, whom he blesses. On the “sixth hour” (noon), darkness covers the land. Jesus cries out “My God, My God, hast Thou forsaken Me? ”

After drinking wine, he commits his spirit to his Father and dies. Matthew reports an earthquake that destroys the Temple. Many understand now that Jesus was the Son of God. His body is taken down and anointed. He is buried in a cave. This is the first day of death.

Holy Saturday
The Jewish Council remembers his vow to return and has the tomb guarded and sealed with a heavy stone. His followers stay in the “Easter Vigil”. Second day of death.

Easter Sunday
On the third day of death, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find the tomb empty, but for an angel who tells them Jesus is already resurrected and is on His way to Galilee. On their way to tell the others, Jesus appears to them.  Death is conquered, the Promise delivered.  Our lives from this day forward are eternal!

Think about the Week that was!
The reason Jesus came to Jerusalem at the Passover was to take the place of the yearly sacrifice by one perfect sacrifice, one time, for all time and for all mankind. His was the blood marking our door that the destroyer might pass over.  The week started on a triumphant note and ended up trying to do between there were windows into the future, glimpses of the past, moments of despair, moments of terror, moments of confusion; but in the end joy and the ultimate triumph.

Thou, Thee or Me - Archaic or just Proper English?
At the risk of repeating things you all may already know, I should like to share a little of what I say to folks who are not familiar with the pronoun forms ¨thou, thee, ye and you¨.

First of all, these forms are not ¨Old English¨. They are Modern English. Old English is technically Anglo-Saxon, which sounds a lot like German, is highly inflected, and which in turn developed into Middle English, the language spoken by Chaucer and his contemporaries and which contains a good deal of French. Middle English also sounds strange to our ears but it in turn developed into Modern English, which is already what we call the language spoken by Shakespeare and Cranmer in the 16th century.

¨Thou and thee¨ do come to us from Old English or Anglo-Saxon, but they are the modern form of that derivation. For example, here is the first line of the Lord´s Prayer in Anglo-Saxon ... Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum ... the word ¨þu¨ or ¨thu¨ being just an early form of the word ¨thou¨ ... The phrase literally is ... Father our thou that art in heaven ...

¨Thou¨ is simply the nominative singular form of the second person personal pronoun ¨you¨ ... That is ... it is the form used to say ¨you¨ when the ¨you¨ is the subject of the sentence. The form ¨thee¨ is simply the accusative singular of the same pronoun. That is, it is the form used when the ¨you¨ is the object of a verb or a preposition. The same pattern holds with ¨ye¨ and ¨you¨. The ¨ye¨ is the nominative plural form and the ¨you¨ the accusative plural form.

Thus, we would say ... ¨thou art good¨ ... but ¨I love thee¨.   Or, ¨ye are good¨ ... but ¨I love you¨.

The distinction is easily seen in this prayer from the BCP ... ¨Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins¨ ... where ¨ye¨ is nominative and ¨you¨ accusative ... ¨ye¨ the subject of the sentence... and ¨you¨ the object of the verb repent ... which is in this case a reflexive verb.

The preservation of these distinctions in the Authorized Version and in our BCP is quite useful.  It preserves distinctions inherent in the original languages of the Bible and which are important to our understanding of God´s Word. Likewise, these sorts of distinctions are used in many other modern languages and are easily learned by the smallest child. As well, we still retain similar forms even in Modern English, the distinctions between ¨I¨ and ¨me¨ or ¨he¨ and ¨him¨, for example, which are just distinctions between nominative and accusative forms.

In addition, the use of ¨thou¨ and ¨thee¨ is really to be more personal and informal and direct than to use ¨you¨ as we do exclusively in the present day version of Modern English as used here in North America. I recall reading letters written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn ... he refers to her as ¨thou.¨  When she replies to him, there is no use of ¨thou¨ but rather ¨ye¨ and ¨you.¨  In the same way in Spanish people often refer to a respected elder as ¨vosotros¨ ... which is the plural of ¨tu¨ or ¨you¨. The idea is that the respected person should not be refered to in a way that is too informal or familiar. The plural form shows respect. Interestingly in Spanish, the informal ¨tu¨ is always used to refer to God.

So, in Modern English, ¨thou¨ and ¨thee¨, besides being more accurate, are actually more personal, informal, and intimate than the one general, boring, over-used pronoun that we are accustomed to use. Thus, ¨Thou shall not steal¨ has a very personal and direct application. Or, when we refer to God as ¨Thou¨ ... we are referring as children to our loving heavenly Father, not some distant and impersonally divine ¨you¨.

Thus, praying that some of this might be useful, and thanking you all for your patience, I bid you most heartily well to fare ...

In Christ,
+ Garth
Garth R. Neel, Missionary Bishop
Anglican Orthodox Church
Kendal, Saskatchewan, Canada


[1] In this case the word catholic catholic (derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), means "universal") comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (kath'holou), meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning "about" and όλος meaning "whole".  The word in English means "including a wide variety of things; all-embracing" in particular as "relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church."   It was first used to describe the Christian Church in the early 2nd century to emphasize its universal scope. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages.  The term has been incorporated into the name of the Roman Catholic Church, arguably not actually a Christian church, though with many Christian members, under the Bishop of Rome.  Other Christians use the term "catholic" (normally with a lower-case letter "c") to refer not to the Roman Catholic Church but the Christian Church and all believers in Jesus Christ across the world and across the ages, regardless of denominational affiliation.
[2] This response was similar to God’s answer to Moses’ question, “Who do I tell them sent me?”

[3] If the text of this sentence seems familiar, it is John 3.16, probably the most widely quoted text of the Bible.

No comments: