The Great Three Days

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Today we enter the Great Three Days or Triduum of Holy Week - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. They all look toward and anticipate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday as did all of history up to that point. 

Liturgy is an interesting thing. By the Spirit of God, we encapsulate in time a moment that happened some two thousand years ago. And as we remember that moment by faith, its power and presence - the presence of Christ in that moment and in the here and now - are made real to us. So it will be when we celebrate and remember Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper at our Maundy Thursday service, tonight at 7pm. (Please don’t forget we’ll be meeting at White Rock Fellowship, 6800 Town N Dr, Dallas, TX 75231.)
 
Similarly, Good Friday’s noonday service of Meditations on the Stations of the Cross are more than sentimental recall. By faith we watch and pray with Jesus as he bears the cross for us, those who abandoned him and shouted “Crucify him!” a few short days before. 

And while we won’t have any services on Holy Saturday, I invite you to observe the day with quiet, resting, and reflection if possible. This Collect for Holy Saturday sums up the attitude of the day well as well as anticipates the joy of Easter:

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Remember, friends, the Easter joy we’ll share on Sunday is but a foretaste of the jubilant kingdom our God is bringing both now in faint whispers and one day in fullness as our risen Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 

Until then our worship will be by faith, but one day by sight. 

Jay+ 

Holy Week Beckons

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This Sunday will begin Holy Week. I encourage you to enter into this sacred week with all your heart, to turn down the volume of life so you can hear the voice of God as meditate on the mighty acts of salvation Jesus endured for us and the whole world.  

We’ll begin with Palm Sunday by remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with a palm leaf procession around the church. Then, inside the church, John’s Passion narrative will be read dramatically by our reading team where we will take up the shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” A sober beginning to the week indeed.

Wednesday morning we’ll continue with Morning Prayer and conclude by praying the Great Litany in procession inside the church. Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper with his disciples begins the Great Three Days. The service will end in silence and darkness as we prepare for Good Friday. 

At noon on Good Friday we will walk through the meditations on the stations of the cross, remembering Jesus’ bearing the hard wood of the cross through Jerusalem, outside the city gate, to be lifted up and glorified. 

It’s the most important week of our faith, and I look forward to the sober, solemn, life-giving time we’ll have together. 

Jay+

Being Put in our Place

Lent marches on this Sunday as we encounter three different stories of emplacement. In each lesson a moment of transformation precedes a statement of destiny or placement in a longterm context of grace. The most prominent of these stories is the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). 

Most of us are familiar with this parable that tells of a young man who asks for his inheritance, squanders it in loose living, comes to his senses to return home, whereupon his father lavishes an inordinate amount of love on him to reinstate him as a son, in a position of privilege and grace.  The son did not get what he deserved. He received grace upon grace. 

Jesus tells this story to show us what God is like, that He and all of heaven rejoice at the repentance of just one sinner. I’m not sure how Lent has gone for you so far, but I hope you’ve experienced this same kind of grace. And, I hope we bear in mind that it’s not just for us that Jesus came, but for the whole world around us. 

I’ll see you Sunday as we journey together in Lent -

Jay+ 

Why Study the Apostles Creed?

We still have three weeks left in our catechesis class, and I wanted to invite you all to join us this Sunday at 4 in the Parish Hall. We've been focusing on the Apostles' Creed, so I wanted to give you a sense of the things we've been talking about.

From very early on, the Church has used the Apostles' Creed, and other statements like it, as a way to teach the Christian faith. But the creed is much more than the basics, much more than Christianity 101. It's not something we "get" and then move beyond. We are continually invited to move deeper and deeper into its truths. 

The creed invites us to immerse ourselves in the realities it speaks to. What do I mean? Well, take the first statement, for example--"I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth." It is one thing to say we believe that God created everything, but it is another matter entirely to mediate on that reality. For instance, it is not simply that God created everything, it is God the Father who created everything and declared it good. So when we confess this we are confessing the goodness of creation. We are saying that the world, though fallen, is good. When we confess that God is Father, we are confessing at the same time the reality of His Son. We are saying that the Father and Son work in concert with each other, never against each other. So in the Incarnation, Jesus takes on flesh and becomes part of the created order, the world created by God, our Father. Jesus comes into the world to restore the goodness of creation and to show us the heart of the Father. The creed, in other words, tells the story of creation and redemption, and when we say the creed we are saying that the story it tells is our story. We are saying that the reality is speaks to is reality itself.

This week we will discuss these statements from the creed:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.

Please make plans to join us!

Chris+

Into the Wilderness

Lent is here. We began with Ash Wednesday yesterday when Chris reminded us that the three practices associated with Lent - prayer, fasting, and almsgiving - really serve to highlight our dependency on God, a sure sign of our being made from dust, of our mortality. 

We continue Sunday as Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, is led by that same Spirit into the wilderness to fast and pray and be tempted by Satan for some forty days. And Luke says: “And when they were ended, he was hungry,” and Satan spoke
(Luke 4:2-3). 

We all know the feeling of hunger. We all know the feeling of being in the wilderness. And perhaps we have experienced the forces of darkness pressing in upon us. Imagine all of these at once. After fasting. For forty days. 

Thus begins our season of Lent. I hope you’ll be present to yourself, to God, and to others in this season. You may have already been experiencing a wilderness or great hunger. I pray God speaks to you powerfully and shows you that he’s been walking alongside you the whole time. For on the other side of Satan’s voice is Jesus’ voice, quoting Holy Scripture, reiterating the goodness of God, and demonstrating his own dependence on the Father.

With you on the journey -

Jay+

A Fitting Bridge

This Sunday marks the final Sunday of Epiphany, the final Sunday before Lent, and our celebration of the Transfiguration. All of this will be encapsulated in our Instructed Eucharist. 

A fitting end to the season of Epiphany, the Transfiguration marks Jesus’ ascent of Mt. Tabor with his closest friends Peter, James and John. There, Jesus is transfigured - or transformed - before their eyes. The veil of this world is lifted, and Jesus is seen for his true nature - “dazzling white…the appearance of his face altered” (Lk 9:29). In the midst of this revelation, we discover Jesus has other companions with him. Moses and Elijah converse with the transfigured Christ symbolically giving the Law and Prophets’ blessing, as it were, of Jesus’ ministry. And what were they discussing? Jesus’ imminent “exodus," his soon to be accomplished triumph over death in the cross at Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). 

Hence, Transfiguration is not only an apt summation to Epiphany, but it is also a fitting bridge to Lent, that season where we’ll join Jesus on his journey to the cross for our sake, for the sake of the world. 

All this will happen during our Instructed Eucharist, a time when we’ll take a deeper look at the deep meaning behind the signs and symbols in our worship of the living God.  

Jay+

Comfort and Courage

Epiphany seems a lifetime away, and yet the season rolls on as we behold the revelation of God in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. This season began on January 6 when the Magi walked down our center aisle and presented their gifts to Jesus. In the subsequent weeks we’ve seen Jesus be revealed through his baptism, in his Church, through his own words at his hometown synagogue, and even in his escaping a near-death encounter at the hands of his fellow Nazarenes. 

This past week we beheld three different Divine - human encounters and discovered a pattern of confession, absolution, call and response. This Sunday Jesus continues to reveal himself in Luke’s version of the beatitudes. The same disciples he urged not to be afraid at the large catch of fish, he now comforts with words of blessing that are meant to both encourage and spur on. 

See you Sunday -

Jay+ 

What a Difference A Week Makes

Sunday we watched Jesus reveal himself as more than just a son of Nazareth in his hometown’s synagogue. The ensuing mob that sought to throw him off the side of the cliff proved the motivation and quality of the hearts of those involved. 

Continuing in the season of Epiphany, this Sunday we’ll see other distinct encounters humans have had with the living God, but the response is quite different. And in each case, an invitation to mission is issued. God’s word creates a fitting moment for each of us individually, and for our parish. 

See you Sunday -

Jay+