Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Pewsitter's Holy Week Message vs. the Presiding Bishop's Spring Equinox Message

This Palm Sunday we read Mark's story of the arrest and trial of Jesus. Following this the congregation was asked to share five minutes of silence. If you ask me, more than five minutes of silence is needed after reviewing the passion of Christ, but that was probably more time than most people, a children, could take.

The Passion narrative helps prepare us for what we know is coming next week, Easter morning. This final Holy Week of preparation for Easter will hopefully give all of us the extra time needed to contemplate how we have come to believe in the risen Lord and our witness to that fact. The path may have been different for each of us, and it is important to think about how we will communicate the lessons we have learned along the way, for our words may influence others who may be starting out on the path or perhaps to those who have lost their way.

In a truly bizzare Easter message, our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (+KJS) proves that she is not communicating effectively to me as she drones on about everything except the death and resurrection of Jesus. Well, she did come close at the end of her empty "Easter" message when she said, "Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst."

The following is a transcript from the Episcopal church pages.

One of my favorite Easter hymns is about greenness. “Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain.”

It goes on to talk about love coming again. It’s a reminder to me of how centered our Easter images are in the Northern hemisphere. We talk about greenness and new life and life springing forth from the earth when we talk about resurrection.

I often wonder what Easter images come in the Southern hemisphere, and I think that church in the south has something to teach us about that.

I was in Japan a month or so ago, and visiting the area of Japan that was so affected by the tsunami and the aftermath of the earthquake. The earth there is - was at that point - largely colorless, brown, in the middle of winter. No greenness. But at the same time the work of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Japanese church in that part of Japan, has brought a great deal of new life, life abundant for people who have been devastated and displaced, who are still mourning their loss of loved ones, the loss of their homes and employment.

New life comes in many forms, even in seasons that seem fairly wintry.

As we began Lent, I asked you to think about the Millennium Development Goals and our work in Lent as a re-focusing of our lives. I’m delighted to be able to tell you that the UN report this last year has shown some significant accomplishment in a couple of those goals, particularly in terms of lowering the rates of the worst poverty, and in achieving better access to drinking water and better access to primary education. We actually might reach those goals by 2015. That leaves a number of other goals as well as what moves beyond the goals to full access for all people to abundant life.

In this Easter season I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate is springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season.

Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for Resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst.

This sounds more like a "Spring Equinox" message than an Easter one. A symbolic resurrection is the best we are left to cling to. Unfortunately, this is the face of today's Episcopal church. Leaders of our church have lost the credibility needed to proclaim the authentic Gospel message as a result of years of casting doubt on the veracity of the Apostolic witness to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Our leaders are left trying to put robes, vestments, and spiritual sounding words on top of their underlying earthly passions and desires, and using their clerical positions to further their favorite social agendas. And like weeds, they keep coming back.

At least they are green.

So what does "resurrection" mean to you?

To me it is the central miracle of God's revelation in Jesus. Without His physical resurrection, we would not be here today. Remember that as Jesus was taken away to be tried and executed, the disciples scattered (Mark 14:50-52), but after they witnessed the resurrected Lord, these same men did an about-face and would later give up their lives for the one they had abandoned.

You can't fake this stuff.

So, this Holy Week, I am focusing on how to communicate the Resurrection to a reluctant world. Forget the stuff about the green blades of grass. I am looking forward to bearing witness to the resurrection of Christ.


  1. We've been focusing on the seven "I AM" statements in the Gospel of St. John in the context of Christ's question to the Apostles in Matthew, "Who do you say that I am?"

    It seems your presiding bishop could use a couple of Sundays in our congregation to hear what Easter is really about.