VOLUME 2, NUMBER 24, MAY 8, 2011
Easter Hope and the Holy Eucharist
The scene takes place on the first Easter Sunday, and, though they have heard some of their fellow disciples say that Jesus was alive, they weren't yet able to process or accept it. So these two disciples, after having spent the most powerful, transforming, alive time of their lives walking toward Jerusalem with Jesus—their teacher, their Master, their friend—walking toward that holy city, toward hope, toward freedom, toward the enthronement of the new King and the beginning of a new Kingdom, now walked away from it without him. Their hope had been broken when the powers of this world arrested Jesus, tried him, hung him on a cross and killed him.
We had hoped he would be the one who would redeem Israel. They had hope that he would redeem Israel, a small, insignificant people outside of the circles of power, marginalized and oppressed throughout their history, from their seemingly perpetual slavery, exile and occupation. They had hoped that this Jesus, who had stood outside of the circles of power and so with the powerless: the weak, the poor, the sick, the orphan and widow (really, women and children in general), the blind, the deaf, the lame, the hungry, the sinner and all of those who had been shut out of the mainstream of history and whose futures were closed off, shut down, a little more each day. They had hoped that with him, just maybe, everything was going to change.
And then those who were in the center of power stepped in, and took him, and killed him, and so, killed that hope.
But as they walked along the road to Emmaus, a stranger joined them on the road. Who knows where he came from? They hadn't gone looking for anyone. He had come to them and started walking with them. And as he walked and they told him the story of the last three days, he then began to tell them about their own lives and the whole history of Israel and the world, but did so in a way that opened their eyes in a new way to those events, to their own lives and their own history, even their own scripture. And then he ate with them—broke bread with them—and everything changed.
In the breaking open of the story of their lives and of history and in the breaking open of bread, they recognized Jesus, the one they had hoped would redeem Israel, against all hope, alive and with them in this meal.
This one who had stood outside the circles of power and with the powerless was, even after death, now alive in their midst. He was alive. And if he was alive, then a new history had been opened up—a future undreamed of—for the disinherited, the non-people with a non-history. A new possibility, a new life had been given for those who had no possibilities and who had no life.
Today, and every time we come to this altar, we share the same meal those two disciples had with Jesus. Christ speaks to us, though we might not always recognize him, giving us new ways to see into scripture, into our history, into our lives. And there he is, breaking bread and giving it to us. And what is he giving us in it? Even in the places that seem most shut down, most closed off, he gives new possibilities and new hope—even to (especially to) those who have no hope and no place in the world of the powerful.
In a world in which it seems the future is already written in favor of the rich and powerful and violent, Jesus gives us a new future. That is what we share here. That is what we celebrate in the Eucharist. That is what we receive in the new life he gives us: an impossible future made possible; a history that seems shut down and closed off now opened up; a new life in a new kingdom; Resurrection.
The Fifty Days of Easter continue. Happy Easter!
-- Father Rhodes
Welcome mother Lindstrom... The Reverend Marjorie Lindstrom, Seaman's Church Institute chaplain and friend of this parish and of the Rector, will again be our guest celebrant and preacher this week while the Rector is away. Please welcome Mother Lindstrom back to Grace Church.
Feasts near and at the conclusion of the easter season... Easter is a fifty day celebration which ends on the Feast of Pentecost. Forty days from Easter Sunday is the Ascension, the day on which Christ was carried up into heaven as described at the end of the 24th chapter of Luke's gospel and in the 1st chapter of it's sequel, the Acts of the Apostles. We will celebrate that fast with a Mass at 7:30 pm on June 2. Following Ascension by about ten days (June 12) is the second greatest feast of the Church year (after Easter), Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday for the white garments placed on the newly baptized (Pentecost being the second most appropriate day for Baptism after the Great Vigil of Easter). We are lucky to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism on that day at the 10 am Solemn Mass. The next two Sundays are also celebrations of some import and will be celebrated with Solemn Processions and other ceremonies at the 10 am Masses on those days: Trinity Sunday on June 19 and Corpus Christi on June 26.
WESTWOOD HERITAGE DAY... Grace Church will be participating in Westwood Heritage Day on Sunday May 22nd. This is a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. Please talk to Debbi about volunteering for set-up, clean-up, and/or manning the table for some period of time. WE ALSO NEED DONATIONS. Please bring new items we can sell at the table to raise money. You can bring your donations in at any time from now until May 21st and give them to debbi. Any questions please email or call Debbi. THANKS!!!
"THE MANY FACES OF OPERA"... The Palisades Opera Company will present "The Many Faces of Opera" on Friday evening, May 27 at 7 PM here at Grace Church. Featured will be pieces from "La Boheme", "Tosca", "Carmen" and more. Tickets are $15, seniors $10.
FOOD FOR FRIENDS, AN EASTER THOUGHT... Easter is the greatest feast of the Christian year, and the Easter season lasts for 50 days. During that time, we can surely reach out to include needy persons in our continuing celebration, especially by donating to the Food for Friends food barrel on Sundays through Pentecost, June 12 this year. During these times of unemployment and underemployment, the need is great. The Food Pantry especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's CDC and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.
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