Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Easter, 2010

John 10: 22-30

So the 25th Day of the month Kislev on the Jewish Calendar begins the ancient holiday of Hanukkah, the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple. Or more properly, the “Rededication.”

In any case, no dreidels in first century Palestine, nor many of the customs that have accrued over the centuries. But there might have been the lighting of candles or lamps, to commemorate the miracle. I’m not sure when the tradition of the Menorrah began.

The story from the second century before Christ, when the army of Judas Maccabaeus in their rebellion against the Syrian king Antiochus IV Ephipanes captured Jerusalem and came into the precincts of the profaned Temple. A great story, mentioned in First and Second Macabees in the Bible and with much more detail in other ancient Jewish writings. The Hellenist Antiochus, this all in the era following Alexander the Great, immersed in Meditteranean Greek culture, attempts to suppress local religious practices in his kingdom. He does so ruthlessly, and for the Jews this means the death sentence for families that have their sons circumcised, and the great Temple in Jerusalem, which had been rebuilt during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, was now converted to the worship of Greek Gods and the state cult.

But the Maccabees are successful in a heroic rebellion and guerilla war of insurgency. At least temporarily, as the Romans were right around the corner. But in any case, at this moment of their victory, the story that as the priests came into the Temple to perform the ceremonial purification and rededication, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the Eternal Flame for one day. Miraculously the flame burned for eight full days—the length of time that it took to prepare and consecrate additional oil. Certainly a sign of God’s blessing and favor.

In modern America for many of our Jewish neighbors and friends Hanukkah is a wonderful family holiday, a way to celebrate a distinctive faith and heritage, and at the same time share with their neighbors in the wider celebration of the holiday season of Christmas and New Year in the wider culture. I know some Jewish families even have very modern American customs like the exchanging of holiday gifts and even what is sometimes called a “Hannaukah bush,” though observant Jews especially frown in reaction to this, on making the observance seem too much like Christmas.

But what the day would have meant for the faithful Jews of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day would have been quite different, I imagine. Their time so very much like the time of the Hanukkah story. And those called the “Zealots” of those days really the heirs to the Maccabeans. Under the heel of the Roman oppressor, with daily reminders both large and small that they are occupied people. A time of brutality and degradation. Even the sacred offices of kingship and temple priesthood occupied by cynical collaborators and compromisers.

Hanukkah for them, perhaps a time to remember in their hearts those heroes not so long ago, who overthrew the oppressor, who rejected the collaborationists. Who for a few brief moments established a renewed Israel, independent, faithful to God’s holy covenant. Those eight candles or lamps, those eight days of memory, must have been a powerful sign of hope, of true messianic expectation, and certainly with that an affront to the powers and principalities all around. We might say that Hanukkah spoke a message not of “holiday cheer,” but of true and radically subversive “liberation theology.”

No matter how dark the night, the lamp burning as a sign of God’s promises to Abraham, and to David. Of the Word spoken by the Prophet Isaiah:

“As the lion or the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them, so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it, and passing over he will preserve it.”

This feast a sign of confident hope, that God will act, in us and through us and for us, to redeem his people and to fulfill his Word. No matter how overwhelming the odds.

And it was in this Hanukkah, John tells us, that Jesus himself came to the Temple in Jerusalem. Just that, perhaps something of a dramatic and even provocative act, deeply symbolic, which is reflected in the fact that he is questioned immediately about his motives. It might be understood as a kind of political theater. “Are you here because you think you are the Messiah?” What the temple authorities ask. A dangerous question to answer. But of course we know. A direct answer might lead to immediate arrest and execution. But Jesus responds with a poetic image. Nothing they can pin on him directly, though the meaning is clear enough. Certainly is for us, all these years later, on the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Though few had recognized it at the time, outside of his chosen circle, the answer to the deepest Hannukah prayer, Israel’s hope and consolation. Dear Desire of every Nation, joy of every longing heart. There and then. Here and now. The Good Shepherd, who is to renew and restore God’s people. My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.

In the midst of Easter, for us and forever as well, the death and resurrection of Christ, as the fulfillment of the Hannaukah promise. When the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The sign and completion in our lives of forgiveness and restoration and renewal. So Paul, in First Corinthians 3:6: Do you not know that you are God’s temple? You. Us. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.

The eight days of the Hanukkah miracle, those eight candles on the Menorrah, are the fullness of God’s seven-day creation, plus one. A future oriented sign of the new heaven and the new earth. The new life we share. The bread of life and cup of salvation at the altar, and the kingdom’s banquet table, and in all our lives as we reflect the new light of our risen Lord day by day, at home, and in and through the church, and in the wide world. That we are ourselves, that we might become more perfectly, the miraculous flame, and the signs of God’s faithful love. All Hanukkah. All Easter.

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.

Bruce Robison

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter, 2010

Sunday of the 173rd Annual Parish Meeting
Saint Andrew's Church, Highland Park
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dear Friends, grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, on this third Sunday in the season of Easter and the day of our annual parish meeting, #173.

Standing as we are a couple of thousand years more or less from that morning by the Galilean sea, when our risen Lord and Savior prepared breakfast for his disciples, looking back through the mists of time in this wonderful story from St. John, and hearing once again his compelling, haunting question to Peter, as it would echo down the centuries to us, “do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” A question for us at our annual meeting and for us to hear every morning in our lives, certainly. Echoing down the centuries.

—And a long distance as well from the days of early Pittsburgh, in 1837, when that band of folks from Trinity Church struck out on their own to begin a new missionary congregation and second Episcopal Church in the rapidly growing city. That must have been pretty dramatic as well, in their lives. The excitement of a new beginning, a sense of vocation—again, “feed my sheep.” The fields white for the harvest. But I’m sure also with a sense of loss. Leaving behind old friends, comfortable ways of doing things, the settled ministry of what was already an older parish. Risk taking, in a way. But perhaps they didn’t feel they really had much choice in the matter. Which is the way it is with this life of ours, in the gospel. He calls us. He sends us.

As he says to Peter, you are used to tying on your own belt in the morning, setting out on the business of the day as you have planned it, pursuing your own objectives, sailing the course you set for yourself. But then the day comes, and it does come, it will come, when someone else will tie the belt around you, and lead you to a destination not of your choosing. –To say, if it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer used the phrase “costly discipleship,” and we hear that and understand that in deeper and deeper ways all our life long, individually and in our community. So that when we talk about the joy that we know in this life together, it isn’t a superficial joy, but something deeper and with a strong texture, in the fullness of life.

Thousands of years ago. Hundreds of years ago. Of course, around us this morning, a little bit more of an atmosphere of a “low Sunday.” Echoes of all the wonderful celebrations the last two weeks. Easter morning, which was so glorious. And then how exciting that service last Sunday with Bishop Price, with Kristen Cooper’s baptism and ten confirmations and the acknowledgment of a new acolyte and a choir with our choristers and a second week in a row of brass and drum. I mean, I enjoy an annual meeting as much as the next guy, but it’s pretty hard to sustain that level of excitement. Maybe not quite the ecstatic heavenly worship that St. John the Divine sees in his vision, as we heard it described this morning. Angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. But we could catch a glimpse of that, I think. Faint echoes of the heavenly choir, right here on Hampton Street.

As I have said so many times, when people ask me for driving directions to St. Andrew’s, I always tell them, “just follow the signs to the zoo.” I guess that makes me smile, to think of all the varied backgrounds and personalities and situations and life experiences represented here. “Every breed of cat.” Some of us going back years and decades and even generations, some so recent that the dust of transition hasn’t even settled yet. Some arriving here in moments of joy and enthusiasm, some in times of searching in the deepest areas of faith. Some in times of brokenness and hurt and loss. Trying to find our way, we have found our way here. And as we find ourselves here, always my prayer that we would find him here, that we would know and come into the life-giving presence of our Lord Jesus. The great shepherd of the sheep.

Thinking of the excitement of the disciples as they looked in toward shore from their boat on the lake, and as John suddenly exclaims to Peter, “It is the Lord!” And that in him and with him and through him our lives may grow in love and peace, rich in God’s blessings, even as we will always and continually be stretched by him, conformed into his likeness, called into new efforts of witness and service.

And so this morning. That we would open our eyes to his presence, our ears to his word, our hands and our hearts to be with him in his loving embrace of the world. In those words from John 12 inscribed on the Rood Beam over us, “And I if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me.” The reference at once both to his cross and to his heavenly throne. That we come together here and now, this morning, always, in order to be sent out by him, for him, with him. Through 173 years: generations of men and women, boys and girls, baptisms and weddings and funerals, teaching and learning, questioning, comforting, healing, forgiving--potluck suppers, singing in the choir, serving in the community—all of it. We will come together in a short while over in Brooks Hall to look back over the previous year, to talk about congregational life, to celebrate what it means for us to be a part of the family of St. Andrew’s. Let it all be for him.

Bruce Robison

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 17, 2010

Burial Office

S. Murray Rust, Jr.
April 28, 1912 – April 6, 2010

St. Paul, in the sixth chapter of Romans, and now a stanza of the great Easter canticle: Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friends, grace to you and peace, from God our father, and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to stand here this morning, to say a word about the heart and soul and essential message of Christian life—about faith, hope, and love, about the Cross and the Empty tomb, Good Friday and Easter—as we come together in the midst of this Easter season I know with so many feelings, thoughts, memories, to give thanks for the life of S. Murray Rust Jr., who entered greater life not quite two weeks ago, on the sixth of April.

Quite a life. Born in the last year of the presidency of William Howard Taft and when the automobile and telephone were the latest thing in emerging technology and living vigorously into the era of space flight and Obama and the internet. Nearly a century, and what a century it was! Truly one of the great men of the Greatest Generation.

And to all this great family—children and step-children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and uncles and aunts and cousins (it must be quite a challenge to you all to keep it all straight; I know it is for me)--I do want to say to you a word of appreciation for you, and especially for these past months and really years, as you have come together both for Murray and Elinor, with gentle love, with dignity, care for them both, as they have needed to deal with all the challenges of their lives, and with the care you have shown over and over for them and for one another, with compassion.

Certainly this gathering today a tribute in so many ways to the impact Mr. Rust has had in so many ways over this long and fascinating life, in the lives of so many others. A pebble is dropped in one corner of a pond, and the ripples move out in wider and wider circles.

The Rusts had moved up to Cape Cod two decades before I arrived in Pittsburgh and here at St. Andrew’s, and so I’ve known them personally only from gatherings and conversations during visits or on special occasions. Susy and I had the good fortune to sit for a long and wonderful evening at the same dinner table with the “senior Rusts” at Sean and Leigh’s wedding reception—which seems like about 15 minutes or so ago, though I know the calendar pages do keep turning on all of us. What came through to me most of all was his spirit of generous good humor, and his clarity of thought and expression, and of course his great and expansive enjoyment of and love for his family.

I know from his life story that he was an exceptionally gifted businessman and community leader, a man of great intelligence and strength of character. At the same time, at the table that evening, he struck me as an exceptionally kind and gentle man, a benevolent patriarch surrounded by the wide circle of his loving family.

I have known him most of all of course by way of this remarkable DNA of character as it has passed along into new generations, and as it has been reflected as well in those related not by blood but by years of friendship and shared life. Men and women, boys and girls, with a deep sense of wholesome character. Integrity. A commitment not simply to hard work and personal success and accomplishment, though there is plenty of that to go around, but equally a passion to be a part of the project of making this world a better place for all of us. The legacy of a true philanthropist. To build community on a solid and generous foundation. Whether in the great work of building the infrastructure necessary for the winning of the war, or in the rallying of energy and resources to build a new home for a deserving family right here in Pittsburgh.

Just to say that the apples don’t fall too far from the tree, and that even now, as we gather at the end of his earthly life, we can celebrate with thanksgiving the way he lives on in our midst, in and through your lives, and all you are, and all you accomplish, every day.

Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. A word of faith, joy, triumph, victory. A song full of the promise of new life and life abundant fully transfigured and eternal, as we share with Christ in his Easter resurrection. Some of the rich poetry in scripture and tradition will talk about death as “the old enemy.” But that’s really I think not quite right. As we affirm the precious character of human life and relationships, the love of two great marriages, the joy of being father and grandfather and great-grandfather, creativity, the breadth and depth of emotional and intellectual experience, the adventure and joy of so many activities. As Christian people we would simply affirm in this moment that death has no power over any of that. No power at all. Through the mystery of our baptism and through the power of what Christ has done for us at the Cross—in the words of scripture, “life is changed, not ended.” We move from strength to strength, in that greater life, the life of perfect service, that our heavenly Father has had in mind for us since the first breath and dawn and morning of the universe.

In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also. St. John in the 14th chapter.

As we commend S. Murray Rust Jr., into the care of his loving savior, as we affirm our bonds in Jesus Christ for this life and the life to come, we know that this man who was himself a great builder now takes his place in a new home of surpassing excellence. A place built and prepared for him of a grandeur and a glory and an abundance beyond anything we can imagine. The fullness of sharing with Christ. “That where I am, there ye may be also.”

As we express our friendship and sympathy today, acknowledging the sadness that comes with the passing of a life and a generation, may all that be embraced in a spirit of hope and expectation. That Easter not be every just a day on a calendar, but the condition and reality of our lives. As we are born in Christ in baptism, as we live, as we die, and as we are reborn in his image and presence, to live in all fullness in the place, in the mansion, he has prepared for us.

And it seems just right to me here this afternoon that Thatcher will sing for us this song of blessing. To be sign and reminder in it all of the Father’s deepest benediction for us, each of us individually, and as we would reflect on those memories as family and friends, Which would be the spirit to touch our heart this morning as well.

Again, may our Lord bless and keep you.

Bruce Robison

Friday, April 9, 2010

Second Sunday of Easter, 2010

Annual Episcopal Visitation
~April 11, 2010

This Sunday at St. Andrew's, Highland Park, we welcome our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Jr., as Celebrant and Preacher at our 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services.

At the later service we will celebrate the baptism of Kristen Riley Cooper, daughter of Brandon and Jennifer. We will celebrate as well with Sally Stoops Affinito, Mark Douglas Antosz, Meredith Leigh Brown, Paul Daniel Chamberlain, Cooper Steven Kann, John Peter Mathieson, Hannah Elizabeth Schaffer, Gabriela Pascale Schunn, Carolyn Shults Smith, and Emily Delana Stein, who are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Music will include brass and timpani, Easter hymns, anthems by Charles Wood and Joseph Noyen, and St. Andrew's Choir and Choristers singing the Christopher Dowie Communion Service.

Festive Eastertide Coffee Hour Receptions will follow both services.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter, 2010

Easter Morning

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. The Prophet Isaiah, in the 65th Chapter.

Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive. The Apostle Paul, First Corinthians 15.

Dear friends: Grace and peace to you, blessings, joy, all the richness of God’s favor, on this first morning of the world.

Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The earliest Christians would greet one another, Christos anesti! Alithos Anesti! Christ is risen, he is risen indeed! [Repeat this after me . . . .] Easter blessings, and blessings in abundance.

We walk up Hampton Street this morning and through the great doors of St. Andrew’s, but the deepest and greatest reality of all we find ourselves this morning in the Garden, with Mary, and there is a sound just beyond, and we look up, and he approaches across the quiet space which is the landscape of all the created universe, and he speaks that one word, our name . . . our name . . . and in that moment and from that moment and forever, everything is new and fresh and alive, because he is alive.

I love St. John for saving this story for us. Of all the stories of Easter. Easter in the garden, with Mary, earliest dawn, while the dew is still on the roses.

O sons and daughters, let us sing! The King of heaven, the glorious King, o’er death and hell rose triumphing. Alleluia! (Hymnal 1982, #206)

But friends, good people of this parish family, may it be not only for us a day of music and celebration, though it certainly is that, and will be, very wonderfully, with organ and choir and brass, and a long winter giving way we would hope and pray now to a spring of new life and abundant growth, in our families, our community, our church. But may it be even more, even more, a day of spring and Easter in our hearts and in our minds and in our lives, to know that God’s promises from the beginning of time are true and sure for us and to know that we are in him now and destined to be in him and with him and for him forever.

Hear that message this morning, before we hear anything else. Carry it home. Sing it out in the wide world. St. Francis said, “when necessary, use words.” But the news is a bright light that shines from the center of our hearts and of our lives. And these are wonderful and necessary words: Christos anesti. Christos anesti. A Word above and beyond whatever words and in whatever languages we use to try to give it voice. All poetry, all song.

Take a deep breath and sing it out this morning. That the bread and wine of his presence at the altar on this day is for us the first taste of the banquet of our heavenly reality. Because it is a symbol and sign and theme, but more than that, because it happened and is real and true and a solid rock of fact on which we are invited to build the foundation of our lives.

Because the Cross that was defeat and death is now his victory and our victory, his Body broken and his Blood poured out now given again and again for the healing of the nations, for our healing, for our new life. A new reality. By his blood he reconciles us, by his wounds we are healed.

What healing would we ask him for this morning, in the yearning of our heart? What healing, where there is hatred, where there is injury, where there is discord, where there is doubt, despair, darkness, sadness? What healing would we ask him for this morning, in the deep and perhaps the secret reality of our lives. That we would put our trust in him, who died for us. That we might live.

Raise your weary eyelids, Mary, see him living evermore . . . . What was she desiring? Her hopes and dreams? Raise your weary eyelids, Mary, see him living evermore. See his countenance, how gracious, see the wounds for you he bore. All the glory of the morning pales before those wounds redeeming. Let your alleluias rise! . . . . a twelfth century Latin text, translated by the poet Elizabeth Rundle Charles for the hymn—in Hymnal 1982, #190.

Raise your weary eyelids, Mary, see him living evermore.

Paul in his Letter to the Colossians, “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is you life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”

May it be this morning for you, for us and all of us, a day of spring and Easter in our hearts and in our minds and in our lives, this first morning of the world--to know that God’s promises from the beginning of time are true and sure for us and to know that we are in him now and destined to be in him and with him and for him forever.

Mary ran to her friends with the news: “I have seen the Lord.” So for us, today, this morning. So Paul’s great affirmation in Romans 8: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive.
And so again, on this Day of Days, from Isaiah: be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create.

Easter blessings to you, and Easter joy. Sing with joy. Christos anesti. Alithos anesti. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Bruce Robison

Easter Sequence: Victimae Paschai

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter, 2010

Easter Wings
~George Herbert 1593-1633

Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:

With Thee
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.

With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Saturday, 2010

17th C.

Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell

--Denise Levertov

Down through the tomb's inward arch

He has shouldered out into Limbo

to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber:

the merciful dead, the prophets,

the innocents just His own age and those

unnumbered others waiting here

unaware, in an endless void He is ending

now, stooping to tug at their hands,

to pull them from their sarcophagi,

dazzled, almost unwilling. Didmas,

neighbor in death, Golgotha dust

still streaked on the dried sweat of his body

no one had washed and anointed, is here,

for sequence is not known in Limbo;

the promise, given from cross to cross

at noon, arches beyond sunset and dawn.

All these He will swiftly lead

to the Paradise road: they are safe.

That done, there must take place that struggle

no human presumes to picture:

living, dying, descending to rescue the just

from shadow, were lesser travails

than this: to break

through earth and stone of the faithless world

back to the cold sepulchre, tearstained

stifling shroud; to break from them

back into breath and heartbeat, and walk

the world again, closed into days and weeks again,

wounds of His anguish open, and Spirit

streaming through every cell of flesh

so that if mortal sight could bear

to perceive it, it would be seen

His mortal flesh was lit from within, now,

and aching for home. He must return,

first, in Divine patience, and know

hunger again, and give

to humble friends the joy

of giving Him food--fish and a honeycomb.

Good Friday, 2010

Psalm 22: 1-11

The psalm is a song of Israel’s desolation, and yet deeply at the same time of Israel’s hope. Despair, defeat, humiliation—and then somehow in the midst of it all arising a spirit of assurance, confidence in the salvation sure to come in the one who has shown himself faithful from ancient times.

Be not far away, O LORD;
you are my strength; make haste to help me.

The story that unfolds before us this day is so familiar. Painfully familiar. We know every detail, every dark shadow. It never gets any easier. Every tortured step, from the Garden to the Cross, and we are weighed-down once again by the weight of the whole world. The turmoil around us. Economic dislocation. So many families and communities in distress. Political polarization. Increasing levels of hostility. A broken sense of orderly governance. Terrorism. War and rumors of war. Distress in the Church. The dismemberment of the Body. And how all of that and more will sweep around us, shape our lives. Enter even into our hearts.

We might be tempted to run away. Like most of the disciples, apparently. Certainly we are tempted to run away. Yet something keeps us here. Something brings us back, again and again. Again and again. Year after year. And we die with him, again and again.

I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born;
you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.

Be not far from me, for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

The Cross stands up in this hour on that hill beyond the wall of the city, and it is the center of the world, and we are drawn to it, the few who remain of us, as the dark clouds gather overhead. Searching in our memories, searching in our hearts for answers, for the answer. What is the answer? Who is the answer? In the brokenness of his body, in the blood poured out for us in an offering we can barely begin to understand. Offered by him in his faithfulness to the very end.

By his blood he reconciles us. By his wounds we are healed.

We would stand here, force ourselves to stand here, at the foot of his Cross, in this difficult hour, and to open our eyes, for him, open our ears, for him, and our minds, and our hearts. Bringing it all with us. Our home and our families. Wives and husbands, parents and children. Neighbors, friends. Church and world. Bringing it all with us, laying it on the altar, at the foot of his Cross. Today. In this hour. Praying with him as best we can this prayer of our hearts.

Be not far away, O LORD;
you are my strength; make haste to help me.

Good Friday, 2010

All majesty has vanished
from the daughter of Zion.

Her princes have become like deer
that can find no pasture
and run on, their strength all spent,
pursued by the hunter.

Jerusalem has remembered
her days of misery and wandering,
when her people fell into the power of the adversary
and there was no one to help her.

Lamentations of Jeremiah 1: 6-7

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday, 2010

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Christ Whose grace unbounded
Hath this wondrous banquet founded.
Higher o’er all the heav’ns He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.

Hasten as a bride to meet Him
And with loving reverence greet Him;
For with words of life immortal
Now He knocketh at thy portal.
Haste to ope the gates before Him,
Saying, while thou dost adore Him,
Suffer, Lord, that I receive Thee,
And I nevermore will leave Thee.

He who craves a precious treasure
Neither cost nor pain will measure;
But the priceless gifts of heaven
God to us hath freely given.
Though the wealth of earth were offered,
Naught would buy the gifts here offered:
Christ’s true body, for thee riven,
And His blood, for thee once given.

Ah, how hungers all my spirit
For the love I do not merit!
Oft have I, with sighs fast thronging,
Thought upon this food with longing,
In the battle well nigh worsted,
For this cup of life have thirsted,
For the Friend Who here invites us
And to God Himself unites us.

In my heart I find ascending
Holy awe, with rapture blending,
As this mystery I ponder,
Filling all my soul with wonder,
Bearing witness at this hour
Of the greatness of God’s power;
Far beyond all human telling
Is the power within Him dwelling.

Human reason, though it ponder,
Cannot fathom this great wonder
That Christ’s body e’er remaineth
Though it countless souls sustaineth
And that He His blood is giving
With the wine we are receiving.
These great mysteries unsounded
Are by God alone expounded.

Sun, who all my life dost brighten,
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy the best that any knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth;
At Thy feet I cry, my Maker,
Let me be a fit partaker
Of this bless├Ęd food from heaven,
For our good, Thy glory, given.

Lord, by love and mercy driven
Thou hast left Thy throne in heaven
On the cross for me to languish
And to die in bitter anguish,
To forego all joy and gladness
And to shed Thy blood in sadness.
By this blood redeemed and living,
Lord, I praise Thee with thanksgiving.

Jesus, Bread of Life, I pray Thee,
Let me gladly here obey Thee.
By Thy love I am invited,
Be Thy love with love requited;
From this supper let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep love’s treasure.
Through the gifts Thou here dost give me
As Thy guest in heaven receive me.

---Johann Franck, 1649