Speak Lord: Risen Lord

P1000609a.jpg

When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.

They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you.”’

Alternative Gospel for Easter Day
Mark 16:1-8

Are we looking for Jesus of Nazareth?

We are not going to find him in the tomb that is empty.

We do not need to go to Galilee.

We will find him in those who live around us, and especially in those who are in need of the compassion and mercy of God, and us…

Fresco, Trocadero Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

 

Advertisements

Speak Lord: Servant even in death

DSC01780a Louvre.jpg

Unusually, today our reading comes not from Scripture but from an ancient homily, offered for prayer and reflection in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday.

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

How we are loved, how we are served…

May such love inspire us to seek to offer the same…

Ivory carving, Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Suffering Lord

DSC04839a Stoke.jpg

 

See, my servant will prosper,
he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him
– so disfigured did he look
that he seemed no longer human –
so will the crowds be astonished at him,
and kings stand speechless before him;
for they shall see something never told
and witness something never heard before:
‘Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,
like a root in arid ground.
Without beauty, without majesty we saw him,
no looks to attract our eyes;
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,
a man to make people screen their faces;
he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we, we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep,
each taking his own way,
and the Lord burdened him
with the sins of all of us.
Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,
he never opened his mouth,
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers
never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken;
would anyone plead his cause?
Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living;
for our faults struck down in death.
They gave him a grave with the wicked,
a tomb with the rich,
though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute,
he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
for surrendering himself to death
and letting himself be taken for a sinner,
while he was bearing the faults of many
and praying all the time for sinners.

First reading for the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion
Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The prophecy from Isaiah anticipates the Passion of Jesus, his suffering and his suffering for the nations. It also reveals the love and mercy of God who will reward this courage and this love.

From the love of Father and Son we find hope for our present and future: reconciliation that overcomes the faults of our pass and draws us into the future that is Spirit-filled and leads us heavenwards.

Earthenware plaque, attributed to Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood (c1760).  Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke on Trent. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Servant and Lord

DSC00174 Andrew White In Memoriam.jpg

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

Gospel for Mass of the Lord’s Supper
John 13:1-15

As hinted at in the painting above there is the closest relationship between the Eucharist and service of neighbour (symbolised in the washing of feet). Indeed Eucharist is service.

  • It is Christ’s service of us, and service of the Father in the once-and-for-all Sacrifice of Calvary.
  • It is that service re-presented in Christ by the Church, his Body.
  • It is service as the Eucharistic elements are given to the Church in Holy Communion for our spiritual nourishment.

It is service by Christ our head, directed to our life in him, and our life as him in service of the world.

In Memoriam, Andrew White. Exhibited in Chapel of Reconciliation, Walsingham. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The end of the beginning…

DSC04813

Passion Part 3 Ch15_15 to 15_47.jpg

The new Adam dies upon the tree that gives us fuller knowledge yet of Good and Evil.

And from that tree, that seems cursed by God but is source of all abiding blessing, comes fruit for eternal life.

The Lord is abandoned by his (male) disciples, but the women stay beside him, present as if for a new birth…

Detail of crucifix. Church of St Nicholas, Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Fear and Trembling

DSC04813.JPG

Passion Part 2 Ch14_32 to 15_15.jpg

The faithful Son of God is hunted down, betrayed, traduced, and condemned to an agonising death. God in flesh experiences something of the worst that human beings can experience and does it for us.

Mark’s Gospel regularly shows a liking for irony. It is evident even here: the Son of God is condemned to death, and Barabbas (a name which in Aramaic is evocative of the phrase ‘Son of the Father’) is set free.  The ‘joke’ hurts…

Detail of crucifix. Church of St Nicholas, Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Our Lord as food and drink

DSC04813.JPG

Passion Part 1 13 1 to 32

The Passion of Jesus begins with a woman’s act of kindness towards him. It is a good work which earns her criticism but is defended by Jesus, who knows and will know even more keenly rejection by those who would stand in judgement of him.

The woman is generous with her gifts, and Jesus with his – the gift of his very body and blood. At the Last Supper that gift is given to friend and foe alike: to Judas and all the twelve. Despite his great gift, his good work, all will betray him, all will lose faith, if they have not done so already. And yet he gives the gift, and will continue to seek to win them back – them and us: none of his are beyond his purview, each of us is cherished, and sought after…

Detail of crucifix. Church of St Nicholas, Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.