Sunday, April 27, 2014
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP Confirms 16 Catholics from Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community/Video Clips
(Special thanks to Linda Lee Miska our musician, to the sponsors and to the communities of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Ft. Myers and to Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community. We are grateful to Pastor Phil Garrison and the UCC community for their gracious hospitality at St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota, Florida.)
Sixteen Roman Catholics Seal The Deal To Love and Follow Christ: Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan Celebrant
On Saturday April 26th sixteen members of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, ,Florida were confirmed in the faith by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, Roman Catholic Woman Bishop in Sarasota, Florida. Pastors and Roman Catholic Women Priests Judith Beaumont and Judith Lee presented the group of eight young people, aged 12-18, and eight adults, aged 35-61 for the Rite of Confirmation. One man, Robert Swanson, 53, was also baptized before the Confirmation. He and five others also received First Holy Communion after years of faithful attendance and Catechesis at Good Shepherd. For Robert and for each one this Spirit filled celebration represents a turning around of his life and a choice to live in the Light and share Christ’s love with others in the community. Including the Sponsors,parents and Robert’s daughter and grandsons twenty-eight people from The Good Shepherd community and over thirty members and friends of Mary Mother Of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community of Sarasota joined in joyful celebration. Almost all of the Confirmands and their families have experienced homelessness, poverty, unemployment ,healthcare and other difficult life struggles. Yet their determination to follow Christ and their love and joyful spirits lifted all present.
Pastor Phil Garrison welcomed the Confirmands and all present to the St. Andrew United Church of Christ that hosted us. Dorothy Irvin, theologian and Archaeologist who has unearthed many proofs of women’s clerical roles in the first twelve Centuries was also present. She commented that she was raised in Belle Grade, Florida and grew up in segregation as all of the older Good Shepherd Confirmands did, and witnessing our loving interracial and inter cultural celebration was especially meaningful to her. Truly here in this sacred moment, young and old, black and white, men and women, well to do and poor, American born and people of other lands and cultures joined together as a discipleship of equals in the Body of Christ. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee makes introductions and Pastor Phil Garrison of St. Andrew UCC Church welcomes the Congregation and the Confirmands who are about to process
Gathering Around the Altar
Nathaniel Chester, Natasha Terrell and Lauretta Rasmussen and Hank Tessandori
of Good Shepherd were the Lectors. Rev. Katy Zatsick read the Gospel. Linda Lee Miska of MMOJ was the Minister of Music and Cyrillia Rismay of Good Shepherd
led in song.
The Baptism of Robert Swanson
Robert and his family and sponsors, Dr. Joe and Pearl Cudjoe gather at the baptismal Font, and Pastor Judy Lee anoints,baptizes and passes the Light to Robert. Robert’s Grandson, Craig, traces the sign of the Cross on his forehead.
In Christ you are made new!
Bishop Bridget Mary anoints each one with Holy Chrism oil making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads and saying:
“Be sealed with the Holy Spirit”
And this is JOY!
THANKS BE TO GOD!
Tom In Front of His New Home
Tom has been a rambling man all of his life. He travels light and the bag on his shoulder is most of what he has. He is from New England and has lived much of his life in the Northern New England States. He left home as a teenager and eventually entered the Marines. Yet, he could never stay in one place very long. He battled alcohol and depression since he was sixteen and with the help of faith based programs often won the battle for periods of time. He also lived in the West- in California, Oregon and Washington. He worked in concrete and at other jobs until an accident and other events qualified him for Disability in the 1990’s. He lived in single room situations and in shelters for the homeless all across the country.
This Fall he decided to leave the cold weather behind and move to Southwest Florida. He could not afford market housing and much of the time here he was again homeless,sleeping outside in the bushes. Unlike some of the places where Tom stayed, Fort Myers does not have a Men’s Emergency Shelter. It has some drug and alcohol related programs where working is necessary and Tom cannot work any longer. Yet Tom wanted to stay here. Tom’s hope in staying here was Senior housing. Tom turned 62 this month and one Church based Residence for those 62 and over lets our ministry know when they have an apartment available. Thanks be to God, an Efficiency apartment became available a week after his birthday. Tom got the apartment and signed the lease and moved in today.
This is Tom signing his lease with the Property Manager Margaret Sousa and Pastor Judy Beaumont
Tom is delighted to have HUD assisted affordable housing. Good Shepherd Ministries is paying his Security, Electric deposit and pro-rated monthly fee as he will get his check on the First and pay his first months rent then and take it from there.
This is Tom about to put his key in the door of his new home
Margaret, the Manager who truly cares about the residents, was able to provide a bed for Tom, and Good Shepherd provided the bedding and furniture through our own cost free “store” and the generous donations of our friend Ginger Delerme. We also set him up with a full cupboard.
Tom and Pastor Judy B. going over how to pay his electric bills
Tom relaxing in his new chair. He said he feels like a king on a throne!
We blessed every corner of Tom’s new home, and more importantly, we blessed Tom and assured him that he also has a church home.
Tom says that he likes to be social and is glad that he is not alone anymore. We love his shirt-“What Recession”?
For Tom, thanks to this wonderful Senior housing and a caring church, housing is now affordable. The rambling man has decided to settle down. He says that he has found the right place to do it: thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
This important message is from Newwaysministry.wordpress.com blog.
Uganda’s Roman Catholic Bishops are promoting this hate legislation. They need to hear from Pope Francis.
Urge Pope Francis to Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-LGBT Bill!
Uganda’s Parliament has passed a bill which would criminalize homosexuality, including life imprisonment for those considered repeat offenders, and the president is considering whether to sign it.
As Catholics are the largest denomination in Uganda, making up over 40% of the population, it is imperative that Pope Francis speak out against this terrible human rights development. Uganda’s bishops have been ambivalent, which means Pope Francis’ strong moral leadership condemning this bill can greatly impact Uganda.
Your voice is needed in urging the pope to speak out in defense of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people’s human rights. Take action today by tweeting Pope Francis, sending him an email, or writing him a letter!
Email Pope Francis
Dear Pope Francis,
In less than a year, you have done as St. Ignatius asked of us and “set the world on fire” by creating greater welcome for gay and lesbian people in the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, not all have heeded your call to love each other regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, and several nations have passed laws which criminalize being gay. Currently, Uganda’s political leaders are considering such a law.
For the World Day of Peace, you wrote that fraternity can lead us to a more peaceful and just society when we recognize other human beings as our brothers and sisters under God. Help us to stop discrimination, hate, and violence against gay and lesbian people by condemning Uganda’s anti-gay bill and similar efforts in other nations.
Please defend the human rights of gay and lesbian people in Uganda and elsewhere, for their very lives may depend on our witness as Catholics to speak Christ’s love.
Click here to send this email to Pope Francis!
Write Pope Francis
His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City State, 00120
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Kris and Hootie in their new home
Kris has been homeless for many years. When he could he worked temporary odd jobs and sustained a room in someone’s house. He was a good painter and helped paint the ministry house in 2008. At that time he was caring for a beloved senior dog and spent most of his pay on dog food and Vet costs. We would also assist him with this. He was bereaved when his dog died in 2011. After serious injuries he could no longer lift his arm to paint or to do most odd jobs. He lived on porches, or when possible, slept on someone’s floor. While sleeping on an open porch Kris met a small black kitten, one of the many feral cats surrounding this house. He shared his food with her and patiently and lovingly befriended her. He called her “Hootie” because she turned her head like an owl.
Kris has no medical coverage and it has been hard to document his disabilities so his case is currently with a lawyer. Our church member, Doctor Teresa Sievers,MD saw him pro bono as it is her offering to Christ, and gave him a complete physical with testing for range of motion, etc. It was clear that he is disabled and that was finally documented. With no income housing is impossible except with HUD subsidized housing like Goodwill Industries Housing for the physically disabled. Kris had been on a list for one of their Units for over four years and had forgotten that he applied.
The miracle happened in March, his name finally was at the top of the GWI List. He could not contain his joy when on Friday April 11th he moved into his first home, a wonderful townhouse that was handicapped accessible. One of our church members, Judy Alves supplied all of his furniture, a gift from her sainted mother who went home to God the same week. We supplied a bed and other household items.
Kris in front of his home
Hootie could not move right in, however, she had to be spayed and have her shots first. On Friday April 18th our church member Linda Maybin taxied Hootie and Kris back and forth to Eastside Animal Hospital who helped us with a reduced rate. Kris could not wait for Hootie to join him in their home. His joy is complete as he describes her nestling in beside him and playing and even watching TV. This is a joy for both of them. “Now my buddy is here”, he said, adding “there is nothing like being loved” and “thank you, Good Shepherd Church and Pastors Judy and Judy”. We are delighted to house Kris and Hootie in a forever home.
Hootie and Kris and Hootie’s special corner in the background-Thanks be to God!
Ending homelessness in Fort Myers one person at a time,
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont,
Good Shepherd Ministries of Fort Myers, Florida
Thank God for Easter! Thank God for rolling away the stone. Thank you, Jesus for showing us how to walk the walk even unto your death. Most of all, thank you for rising again and showing us how to rise!
This year our Good Shepherd Community celebrated Holy Thursday and Good Friday long before last week. Young and old have had major illnesses, frightening surgeries, the onset of serious limitations, the daily challenges of poverty and homelessness and caretaking for the sick and dying, and violent deaths. We washed each other’s feet and “oh this feels good” could be heard from our hard working people. When we went through the Last Supper with Jesus and stripped the altar we remembered how our lives were stripped. When we walked the Stations of the Cross in the community our twelve year old boy, Jakein, who was baptized last June volunteered to “be Jesus” and carry the Cross. As we found a Colombian Serape that would fit his height, worn over a man’s white shirt our Jesus stood and smiled in all his glory. And we smiled and in our hearts we cried. For the young black men of our community have the hardest road of all. We have lost so many to gangs and violence both as victims and perpetrators. We prayed with and for this Jesus as he made his way through the streets with the community following.
We stopped as he was sentenced in front of the church and as he fell in front of a home that offered the community some hope because Builders Care was rehabilitating it. We remembered hope every moment of his journey-even when we stopped in front of a “crack house” where two men died within two years as they sat drinking alcohol in the yard. And, when we reached the shopping center where many stores were closed and boarded up we prayed for the community. Even the Bail Bond center was closed and we prayed for those in jail, wrongly and rightly. We prayed in front of Foreclosures as Jesus fell for the third time. We prayed for all who died unjustly or as victims, especially children. We prayed to learn how to forgive. Our Jesus helped us do that. But most of all our hearts were moved to feel a new joy as we lived Station 15, the resurrection. Our young Jesus got up and took a bow.
Jesus is risen from the dead! That is the miracle we believe and now live. Now we too must move from death to life. We now remember the joys and life we have. We rejoice in our young people who are now in college and working despite the odds and rough road! We rejoice in Natasha who got all A’s, will graduate from High School, and is accepted into colleges and preparing to go. We rejoice in the joy of our community. We rejoice in the parents, grand- parents, God-parents and community members who live Christ and guide our youth. We rejoice in a community that is one with the poor and outcast, the physically and mentally ill and struggling, accepting all. We rejoice in lives turned around, homeless housed, and sick made healthy with the love of God. We rejoice in Easter Love!
Only love gets you up in the morning and brings you to the tomb like Mary of Magdala and Mary. And only with the eyes of love will you be one of those who can see and hear and believe in the human impossibility of the resurrection. Only Love will let you know that YOU don’t have to move the stone away! Only some folks saw Jesus after he rose-I think they were those who could see with the eyes of love Only love will let you see that Jesus did not come forth as Lazarus did wrapped in the clothes of the dead-he came forth as a new and transformed being-fresh and new! (John 20:6-7) So take off your burial clothes. He folded that burial cloth that covered his face and left it there. His napkin was folded, he was coming back to the Table. Jesus the Christ rose from the dead and was not going to carry death with him.
Only love will let you see the empty Cross and let you deeply realize that Jesus the Christ is now let loose in our midst. The loving women (Matthew 28:1-10) saw that he was not there and ran to tell the others. Jesus met those faithful loving women on the road and commissioned them to “go and tell” to be the apostles to the other disciples, apostles to the apostles. They were the first to carry the message of his new life. Throughout the world, and in churches where they are forbidden to serve at the altar in equal manner as priests or even altar servers, women are treated not as blessed but as second class. Symbolically the altar is Christ, it was women who tended that body in life and death and women who first testified of his life. Loving God, forgive them for they know not what they do. Let the scales fall off the eyes of the Church and all who oppress and victimize women and children, men and all who are different and outcast. Bring Easter life back to the Church and to the world.
Let us look at our own lives and hearts. Are we still carrying the crucifix of a dead Jesus and wearing the burial clothes of life’s losses and disappointments? Or are we becoming fresh and new with the risen Christ? Do our lives point to the crucifix or to the risen Christ-full of new life, transformed and vibrant? Oh, loving God, give us back our joy, give us the fullness of new life no matter what Good Fridays we have faced or will face. Give us the joy of the resurrection!
Our loving God rolls away the stone and raises us from the dead with Christ. Let us keep on keeping on, let us truly become an Easter people! Not death but resurrection is God’s final word-new life- now and forever!
HAPPY EASTER !
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida
The reflection/sermon below by author Albert Butzer III on John 13:1-17 rings true to me. I remember declining a foot washing opportunity when asked by my much loved and revered people’s priest and mentor in Hartford, Connecticut, Fr. Al Jaenicke. I am not sure of all my reasons but I would give anything if I could turn back the clock and accept that most generous offer. Fr. Al went home to his loving God a few years ago. He is with the great cloud of witnesses and communion of Saints that continue to lead me on. Yet, I am not good on receiving. I think I am better at giving. Jesus was good at both. Remember how he accepted having his feet anointed with expensive oil by Mary,Martha’s sister who also wiped them dry with her hair? (John 12:1-7). Although he explained her anointing as burial preparation, he was also moved by the love of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. He loved them. We remember that the best way to love Jesus is to love one another-indeed to give and receive love is to follow Jesus.
My own ministry with the homeless here in Fort Myers began in the park in 2007 with washing the feet of a homeless man with diabetes whose feet were painfully swollen and ulcerated, That dear man is now thankfully housed and is still active with our ministry. And, indeed, he brings regular offerings that we graciously accept. He also serves his neighbors in many other ways. Tomorrow evening we will wash each other’s feet at our church and all feet will be washed, including mine. Then we will share Jesus’ last supper with his disciples which represents the ultimate level of giving one’s self for one’s friends. Thank you Jesus for showing us the way.
And thanks to Albert Butzer III for this timely reflection.
Receiving In Order To Give
By Albert Butzer III
(From his book Tears of Sadness, Tears of Gladness: Gospel Sermons For Lent/Easter)
According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus once said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Not surprisingly, all across the years the Church has agreed! What is the weekly offering but an opportunity for people to give rather than to receive? What are annual stewardship drives and special offerings like One Great Hour Of Sharing but opportunities to give rather than to receive? What are invitations to sing in the choir, teach in the Sunday school, volunteer at the soup kitchen, and go off on mission trips to far–away places like Mexico but opportunities to give rather than to receive? “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” said Jesus, and all across the years the Church has nodded in agreement.
Clearly, the reading from the thirteenth chapter of John contains a strong emphasis on giving. Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his outer robe, grabs a towel and a basin of water, and begins to wash the disciples’ feet. A moment later he says to them, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15). So we Christians understand ourselves to be a servant people, following the example of our Teacher and Lord.
Robert Holland, a Presbyterian minister before he died, spent his summer vacations at the Chautauqua Institute in New York State. One summer he had a neighbor who was a sculptor. “I’ve been thinking of sculpting you a figure of Jesus,” said the neighbor. “What do you think his most characteristic pose would be?” Holland thought long and hard about the question. What is the most characteristic pose of Jesus Christ? Is it theteaching Christ sitting on the slope of Mount Beatitude, the healing Christ reaching out to touch someone in need, the crucified Christ nailed to the cross of Calvary, or, maybe, the resurrected Christ standing in front of the empty tomb? Finally Holland replied, “I know what I’d like. I’d like you to carve me a statue of Christ with the towel washing the disciples’ feet. That’s the Christ I want the world to know – the serving Christ, the one who gives of himself for others.”1 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Don’t you agree?
Occasionally, however, we Christians discover that receiving is just as important as giving. Yet, for many of us, receiving is much more difficult. Consider, for example, Peter Gomes, the minister to Harvard University. Early in his career while teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he received invitations to preach from the pulpits of small, rural, black Baptist churches in Macon County. These little churches paid the visiting preacher by taking up a “love offering” immediately following the sermon, which, according to Gomes, became “something of a referendum on preacher and sermon alike”! “Early on,” he writes, “I refused these offerings on the grounds that these poor people and their poor church needed the money more than I did, since I had a decent salary from the institute, after all, and it was my pleasure to give.” But when Gomes mentioned his refusals to the dean of women at Tuskegee, she thundered, “Who are you to refuse to accept the gift of these humble people? You have given insult by refusing to let them do what they can for you.”2 Sometimes, you see, it is more difficult to receive than to give.
Most every congregation has a handful of saints like the woman about whom I’m thinking: Active in church all her life, she was one of the most tireless and selfless members of the congregation. While many of the members drove late–model luxury cars, she zoomed around town in a nine–year–old Honda Civic. Her wardrobe was similarly out of date. But with a shrug of the shoulder she’d say, “I can think of more important things on which to spend my money.” When a couple would arrive home from the hospital with a brand new baby, she’d be the first to drop by with a casserole, a plate of cookies, and a word of advice to the nervous parents about how to change a diaper or give the baby a bath. When the church needed someone to organize a potluck supper, fold the Sunday bulletins, or even tackle the troublesome junior high Sunday school class, she – God bless her! – would be the first to volunteer.
But then, tragically, she suffered a stroke, which left her partially paralyzed. Other church members tried to offer to help her, but she refused, fiercely independent soul that she was. “Thank you, dear,” she would say, “but I can get by just fine by myself.” Finally, in exasperation one of the deacons said, “She has been a care–giver all her life. But now she needs to learn how to receive help as well as give it.” For her, and for many of us, it is more difficult to receive than to give.
So it was for Simon Peter, and, perhaps, for the other disciples as well. For when Jesus takes a towel and a basin of water, Peter protests. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet? You will never wash my feet” (John 13:6, 8). I have a book on my study shelf that is filled with famous paintings of biblical scenes. The book includes a thirteenth century work by an unknown French artist that shows Jesus washing Peter’s feet while the other disciples watch and reluctantly wait their turn. The two disciples to Peter’s left, knowing they are next in line, are nervously brushing the dirt from their own feet before Jesus gets to them.3 How strange, but how characteristic of human nature!
If the truth be known, most of us don’t like to receive help, especially not from our friends, not even when that friend is Jesus. We want to succeed in life on our own. We’ve been brought up to be self–sufficient, self–reliant, and to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Like Peter we prefer to stand on our own two feet. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” he asks. “You will never wash my feet.”
But Jesus replies, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8). Jesus, filled with divine wisdom, understood how hard it is to be a disciple. No matter how many positive thoughts we think; no matter how many kind words we speak; no matter how many good deeds we perform, the world will eventually wear us down unless the grace we receive is as great as the grace we try to give. As the dean of women put it to Peter Gomes, “You will never be able to give, until you learn how to be a generous receiver.”4
Near the end of The Longing For Home, Frederick Buechner observes that Saint Paul begins virtually every one of his New Testament letters with words of grace. Says Buechner:
[Paul] points out that this grace he wishes them is “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” because he wants there to be absolutely no doubt about that. Grace is the best he can wish them because grace is the best he himself ever received.5
No where is this grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ more tangible than in the Upper Room on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. For during supper, Jesus got up from the table and laid down his robe, which in the opinion of eminent New Testament scholar Raymond Brown is a symbol of the way Jesus will soon lay down his life on the cross,6 and he began to wash the disciples’ feet.
Like Peter, we continue to protest. “Lord, you will never wash our feet.” Like Peter, we want to get by in life on our own. But Jesus reminds us that whatever power we possess for Christian living is not our own. It comes from him. “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” “You will never be able to give,” he seems to say, “until you learn how to be a generous receiver.”
1. Robert Cleveland Holland, Robert Holland At Shadyside (Pittsburgh: published by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, 1985), pp. 22–23.
2. Peter J. Gomes, The Good Book: Reading The Bible With Heart And Mind (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996), pp. 310–311.
3. Richard Muhlberger, ed., The Bible In Art: The New Testament (New York: Portland House, Publishers, 1990), pp. 110–111.
4. Gomes, p. 311.
5. Frederick Buechner, The Longing For Home (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1996), p. 175.
6. Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According To John (xiii–xxi) in the Anchor Bible Series, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1970), p. 551.
Rev. Chava’s Reflection
that he imagined himself in the Triumphal Procession into Jerusalem… and he
was the donkey. That’s a lovely image for us as church: to be God-bearers
for each other, bringers of love. We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t
have to get everything right: we can be humble bearers of the love of God.
I guess I was a God-bearer for a man I met this week who remembered the
done on those marches, holding out his arms to me and saying joyfully, “And
YOU were there, TOO!”Another day this week, I met a different man. This other man had cut
himself off from everyone in his life. Everyone he was related to, he spoke
of with anger and disgust. When I asked about God, he said, “There is no
God!” I listened to his litany of anger and rejection, and finally said,
“Sounds like a lonely life.” Tears filled his eyes. This man seemed to me
like a cell without water, unable to connect with anyone around him, not
even God. He didn’t want prayer but I told him I would send good energy his
way. He liked that. Maybe that’s a little crack of openness to love in his
soul. I hope so.
Lastly, a story from our Sunday Mass at St Romero’s last week. We were a
very small group. Just as we were about to share Communion, he left the
room, using his telephone. I was surprised but went on, serving communion
and praying, then just waiting for him. Finally he came back. “I just
remembered,” he said. “Jesus said if you’re mad at someone you need to
reconcile before you come to the altar. So I had to call someone and
apologize before I came to communion.”
Look for God wherever you are, this week! May we all be God-bearers for
each other, carriers of love and hope. Have a blessed Holy Week.
Blessings and love to all,
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality
402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620
The people of Good Shepherd Community gathered outside as Pastor Judy Lee blessed the Palms and Pastor Judy Beaumont read the Gospel telling of Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Our elderly people waited inside and Rev. Dotty Shugrue, who was visiting us, read the Gospel to them.
Shouts of Victory: Palm Sunday Homily with Rev. Judy and walking Through Holy Week with Rev. Deniray Mueller
Rev. Judy’s Homily-Palm Sunday April 13, 2014: Shouts of Victory
Churches all over the world will be adorned in palm branches this Sunday commemorating the joyful entry of Jesus into Jerusalem seated on the back of a donkey. In our church as in many Roman Catholic and other churches, people will gather outside in a procession to the church carrying palms and singing Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest, as was done for the first time by the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem.
The Gospel of Matthew (21:1-11) will be read and we will see Jesus enacting the prophecy about the coming of Zion’s ruler in Zechariah 9:9-10. “Rejoice in heart and soul….Shout with gladness daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your ruler comes to you: victorious and triumphant, humble, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”(TIB) The NAB translation of this verse read: “Shout for joy…See, your king shall come to you; a just savior he is, meek and riding on the foal of an ass”. The Peshitta (Near Eastern translation from Jesus’ Aramaic) reads “…he is righteous and a Savior, lowly and riding…upon a colt, the foal of an ass”. The fulfillment of this prophecy about the Messiah is why Jesus sent his disciples to get the colt he would ride on into Jerusalem. To ride on a donkey in that age was more a sign of humiliation than royalty, for only the poor rode on donkeys. Royalty rode on fine horses or in transport pulled by powerful steeds. So, here is Jesus the king of the poor and outcast, for he had loved them, healed them, taught them and won their hearts, now welcomed by them with great joy. They spread their cloaks on the ground before him and shouted “Hosanna” which means “Save” in Hebrew but is a song of praise. Matthew’s Gospel says “the whole city was stirred up” at his arrival.
The account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem is in all four Gospels. John’s Gospel (Ch 12) adds that the people recalled the raising of Lazarus and thronged around him. “Look, the whole world has gone after him! (12:19b). In Luke’s (Ch 19) account Jesus was asked by the Pharisees to quiet his disciples. He said that if they were quiet even the stones would cry out! This was a time of acclamation and joy, the universe itself was in accord. I think that the joyful shouts of acclamation filled Jesus’ heart and even for a short while he knew that despite what lied ahead, and he had already predicted that, he had accomplished his mission, the ordinary, the poor, the sick and the outcast along with his other disciples, men and women and children, knew who he was and would carry on his work. This deep knowledge and his always close Abba, Amma God (Papa, Mama) gave him the strength to face what was ahead of him.
And, then as he drew close to Jerusalem, Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the people as they did not accept the prophets before him, or him-“you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you”- and destruction not peace would come to them. The oppressors would win after all in Jerusalem and for this, he wept. Then, he entered the Temple and further enraged the authorities by throwing out the money changers and the sellers of animals, doves and others, for sacrifice. In essence, He set those birds and animals free and put the place where God was supposed to live back into God- perspective. God doesn’t want any form of animal or living sacrifice, God wants lives and hearts full of justice and love for everyone. This is to be a house of prayer! The ensuing parable of the tenants in the vineyard (Matt 21: 33-45) where the owner has to send his son because the others collecting the debt were killed and the son is also killed but the vineyard is given to other tenants, tells us what will happen next.
On Palm Sunday I like to savor the victory with Jesus. Jesus joy was short lived because his work was not done-he kept on going with his actions and his teaching. I think the strength of the Heartfelt Hosannas propelled him on. I also think that it may well have been a different crowd that shouted “crucify him” while his loyal group of lowly folks, lowly like him, were overwhelmed by the greater powerful interests of the religious establishment and the Roman Oppressors.
The Roman Catholic Liturgy really rushes Jesus’ moments of victory as once the palms are placed down, the entire Passion is read for the Gospel. Yes, Jesus will be killed in a brutal and slow tortuous way. But even there he will make a statement of victory. When we rely on the English translations from the Greek alone we may miss this shout of victory from the Cross. In Matthew 27:46 we have Jesus saying the Aramaic words “Eli, Eli, L’mana Sabachtani.” In English that is translated “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is phrased as a question and is taken to mean the abandonment of God. But Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico (Let There Be Light, pp. 12-13) points out, it can also be understood as a declaration: “O God! O God To what (a purpose) You have kept me!” or “O Sustainer, O Sustainer! To what a purpose you have left me.” “Left” does not mean abandoned but it means spared to fulfill an end or destiny”. God never forsook or abandoned Jesus, and God will never forsake us. It is a cry of “I have accomplished it” (Like the “it is finished” in other accounts). The Lamsa version of the Aramaic translates, “for this was my destiny!” In other words, in addition to the words of forgiveness and inclusion (for the thief) from the Cross we have a sense of completion of Jesus’ work -only to be topped by the resurrection! And that indeed is the conclusion of Holy week-rising from the dead!
Amen to the Victory of Palm Sunday and the Victory of the Cross-God is with us until the end, and will raise us up! Amen!!!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
HAPPY HOLY WEEK by Rev. Deniray Meuller -The Garden Community Outdoor Church ,Ohio
This past weekend was beautiful — sunny (finally!), with bright flowers starting to pop out everywhere and little birds singing. Winter seems to have finally left, at least for a little while. A friend of mine, said to me, “You must be busy getting ready for Easter. So what’s the thing to say — do you tell people “Happy Holy Week?’”
“Well,” I said. “You could say ‘Happy Easter,’ when it’s actually Easter day, or ‘Christ is Risen!’. But until then it’s kind of confusing: there’s a lot of different stuff going on in Holy Week.”
Think about it. During Holy Week, we wave palms in the air and hail Jesus as king, the long-awaited messiah who’s going to save us, then we change our minds and scream that the Romans should crucify him; we share a loving last supper with Jesus and he washes our feet, then we sneak out after dinner and betray him. Jesus begs us to stay with him, we promise we will, then we don’t. We abandon him, he’s arrested and beaten; he forgives us, then we run away. Then Jesus is killed; we lay him in the tomb and weep; we go back for him, then he’s gone, then he’s back, and then — wait! — he’s not dead at all.
We call this week before Easter Sunday ‘Holy Week’ because it was originally the time of the Feast of Passover when the Jews were saved in Egypt, and because of the miraculous things that Jesus did in the last week of His Life.
We witness to Christ in song and story throughout Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday we process with our palms and incense and songs. We celebrate Jesus triumphantly riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Men, women and children lined the streets yelling ‘hosanna’ and waving palm branches. They were greeting the messiah who they believed had come to save them.
Holy Monday we remember Jesus’ throwing all the money changers and vendors out of the Temple. The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of worship for the Jews and they were required to present money and animals for sacrifice to the priests when they visited. Animal vendors, and money changers had set up booths in the court. People believed that God actually lived in ‘Most Holy of Holy Places’ the inner sanctum of the Temple. This desecration angered Jesus so much that he turned over the tables of the money changers and ran all the animal vendors out.
On Holy Tuesday, Jesus spent most of the day on the Mount Of Olives, where he preached what we now know as the’ Sermon on The Mount’, telling crowds of people what the Kingdom would be like and how we could join Him.
On Spy Wednesday we remember Judas Iscariot, a zealot, who thought he was doing the right thing by agreeing to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He thought that if Jesus was jailed, the people would rise up and overthrow the Romans.
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus shared a common meal with his disciples – this has become the celebration we call Eucharist or Communion. Many churches strip their altars and cover any icons and statues on Maundy Thursday in preparation for the mourning of Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday. There will be no celebration of Communion until the resurrection.
Many other churches hold feet washings, washing each other’s feet, to commemorate that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus reminds us that we are to love each other as he loved us.
After the meal, Jesus went to the Garden at Gethsemane to pray. He asks the disciples to stay and pray with him, but they all fall asleep. Jesus is left to pray for strength for what is to come by himself, abandoned by his own disciples.
Judas then identified Jesus for the Roman guards with a kiss and He was taken away by the soldiers.
We don’t know why this Friday got the name of ‘Good Friday’ – it certainly was not a fun day. Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor, and sentenced to death. He was then forced to walk to the Hill of Golgotha, carrying the cross on which he will be crucified. There is a commemoration of this walk called the ‘Stations of the Cross’ where participants remember each of the steps to the crucifixion. Here at Trinity, we do a Stations of the Cross around the Statehouse, interweaving Jesus’ trials with social justice issues.
It is generally accepted that Jesus was nailed to the cross around noon on Good Friday and died after three hours. Many churches, including Trinity, hold a vigil with readings and music during this three hour period. The Bible says that when Jesus died, the world turned black, which scientists think was a solar eclipse in the middle of the day.
Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross and buried in an unused tomb.
Holy Saturday ends the season of Lent for Easter Sunday will be a celebration of new life. Holy Saturday is a day of waiting for the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Some churches hold a twilight or midnight vigil waiting for the resurrection; others have people praying throughout the night, waiting for Easter Sunday.
The word ‘Easter’ comes from the German ‘ostern’, meaning the direction from which the sun rises, celebrating the spring sun, when all things return to life again.
Some churches, if they do not do an Easter Vigil, hold a sunrise service to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as the sun comes up. This is a day of great celebration with banners and special music and great feasting. We have left the penitential season of Lent and are reveling in the fact that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we all have new and eternal life. All our sins have been forgiven with His death and have been promised a place in Heaven for eternity.
So this Holy Week, think about each of the days and what preparation you can make to be ready for the festive celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, was we approach the week of the trials of your Son, let us remember our own shortcomings and vow to cleanse ourselves of those things that keep us from you. By raising Christ, your Son, you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Rev deniray mueller
Diocese of Southern Ohio
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