Sunday, April 13, 2014THE SUNDAY OF THE PASSION: PALM SUNDAY
The liturgies on the morning of Palm Sunday are designed by the Book of Common Prayer to take us through the week to come. So, since this is Holy Week, Palm Sunday covers both the triumphant entry into Jerusalem (the Blessing of the Palms and the Palm Procession) as well as Christ's Passion, which we unpack each day of the rest of the week. The idea here is that a person could attend church only on Sundays and still participate in the entirety of Holy Week and Easter: Palm Sunday takes us through Christ's Crucifixion, and then Easter Sunday celebrates Christ's Resurrection.
Of course, we're not suggesting you skip the rest of Holy Week—indeed, we encourage you to spend the entire week with us. But if you are wondering why the morning liturgies on Palm Sunday end with Christ Crucified, you now have your answer. The church is structured so that Sunday worshippers get the gist. If you seek more than the gist, you're in luck: at Saint Thomas, we know how to dwell on the details. You are most welcome to join us as we mark each day of Holy Week in scripture, song, meditation and prayer.
Even if you cannot join us in person for everything, please know that all choral services throughout the week are webcast live and then available on-demand.
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, April 6, 2014THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
At the morning services this year for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, we have the account of Christ's raising Lazarus from the dead, a resuscitation more than a resurrection, insofar as Lazarus would live only to die again. Still, it is here that Christ makes it clear to Martha that he is "the resurrection and the life."
The irony is that the raising of Lazarus, a life-giving event, led to the crucifixion of Christ; his enemies were now more than ever determined to kill him. Yet, it is by the way of the cross that Christ defeated death, once and for all. So, the raising of Lazarus is very much a sign of what it to come, made complete in Christ’s death and resurrection. Lazarus would die again; but Christ's death led to the death of death, to life beyond death, to death no more.
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, March 30, 2014THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Laetare)
Laetare means "rejoice," and on this Sunday we take a break from the austerity of Lent and add some color: rose vestments on the clergy and flowers on the altar.
At the morning services today, we have the story of the man born blind, given sight by Jesus.
In a 2002 sermon, the Rector points out two important developments in this story: "First, there is the blind beggar who is given sight, and who then progressively sees ever more clearly in every way that it is possible to see, including insight. Second, there are Jesus’ adversaries, who have physical eyesight but who, in their determined opposition to Jesus, become increasingly blind. The story contrasts the progress of faith with the progress of unbelief."
See: Faith with Open Eyes (2002) by Fr Mead
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which giveth life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, March 23, 2014THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
At the morning services this Third Sunday in Lent, we have the account in John of Christ's encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. It is here that we encounter a Christ who already understands everything about us. Who among us can’t relate to the relief of the Samaritan woman who at last is made accountable to the truth: her own messy history, partially known publicly, and fully known to Christ? As the Samaritan woman finds out, the truth is a path toward salvation and love, not damnation, if we stick with Christ and let him transform us.
As you think on this, these sermons by the Rector might help:
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, March 16, 2014THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
In the morning services on the Second Sunday in Lent (Year A), we have the story of Nicodemus in the third chapter of John. If you can related to the earnest seeking of the wanting-to-believe Nicodemus, you might find these sermons helpful:
Nicodemus, by Fr Javis, Headmaster Emeritus of the Roxbury Latin School (2009)
Nicodemus, There Is More in Your Future, by Fr Austin (2008)
Remember Who You Are, by Fr Mead (2005)
Born Again, by Fr Mead (2002)
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.