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This Mask is Too Hot!
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm
Masks Make the Man
“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”
― George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant
Easter in Time of Plague
Resurrection never crossed our minds when Meister Eckhart said that the savior’s birth is always happening. But if it happens not in us what does it profit? What matters is that he be born in us.
Resurrection never crossed our minds until we, too long removed from that day encounter him who was absent then, only to be fully present for all time. Sometime, somewhere, when we finally hit the wall that defeats the best moves of our egos — when we find something we cannot fix, there we will meet Jesus and Resurrection will finally cross our minds and he will not only be born in us but resurrected as well and it will be ENOUGH!
John W. Sewell
I don’t suppose anyone planned to give up this much for Lent!
THURSDAY OF EASTER III
May 9, 2019
LUKE 24:28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Our Lord took, blessed and broke the bread. In the Second Rite for Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer [page 364], the rubrics (stage directions) are emphatic on one point. After the bread is broken,
The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.
A period of silence is kept.
Then may be sung or said
[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
Although this is more often than not ignored, rushing as we are toward lunch, I believe it the most solemn moment of the service. Why? On a good day, humidity willing, an audible cracking is heard. This action, called the Fraction, is the moment when mystically the broken body of Jesus becomes one with all the brokenness in us. The words of the Prophet Isaiah (53:5) are fulfilled (or filled full), “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
In the face of such love and sacrifice, all we can do if fall into a length of silence. It is my practice at Saint John’s to pause for 10 or so seconds. Speechlessness is the only response to the magnitude of just what God has done for us in the resurrection.
In hope, in spite of the facts.
April 18, 2019
JOHN 13 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,
4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord— and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one her.”
When Jesus got to Peter with basin and water, Peter balked. It’s not that his feet were ticklish, it’s not that someone wanted to wash his feet, it’s because Jesus, who he loved and revered, came at him as servant.
In our own day, it is all about us. We are self-conscious about our feet. And in truth, by a certain age feet are pretty beat up. It is not, I have observed, washing feet that is so unacceptable even, no, it’s having our feet washed. That may seem backwards, but the ego “inside voice” says, “So, if this is going on at least I will be in control.” Sitting in chair with someone, not of ego’s choice, touching, handling and, at least symbolically washing our feet, is beyond self-absorbed ego’s tolerance.
Soul, on the other hand, while perhaps timid the first time, discovers a peculiar intimacy in the process. Suddenly, one is in a genuine religious experience, for such has an almost irresistible attraction.
Ego, sighs relief, re-seated in the pew, having survived an unpleasant experience. Soul is almost unaware of self upon reentering the pew. They are both moved, but consider the dichotomy. Attendance to Maundy Thursday is lower than other Holy Week services and I suspect the push pull of ego versa soul is the reason. Pedicures are not required. So relax, and pardon the expression, but meeting sole to soul is holy.
In hope, in spite of the facts. J
April 17, 2019
JOHN 13: 21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples— the one whom Jesus loved— was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. The New Commandment 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33
Let us get past the goofy notion that Jesus was never anxious (note verse 21). Notice that Jesus did not succumb to anxiety. Notice, in addition, that Jesus stated this anxiety with his inner circle. What he did that Thursday night was put it back into the system as a call to grow up. Jesus did this when he informed his inner circle that one of their number would betray him. As it always is on such occasions, the room got very quiet. Everyone looked around and wondered who on earth would do such. John, reclining near Jesus whispered near his ear, “Lord, who?” “Watch,” and he dipped a choice bit of hummus on fresh pita bread to Judas, who beamed at the mark of favor.
God warned Cain that his rage at his brother (and God) had attracted sin, crouching by the door to grab him. “You must master this.” Cain did not and Abel lay dead in the field, the first murder. On that dark night, Jesus knew that Satan entered Judas when Jesus gave him communion so he said, “Whatever you are doing, at least get on with it. Whereupon, Judas rose from the table and went out. Then, O blessed understatement: And it was night.
In hope, in spite of the facts. J
True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self, but the point is not only to get out, you must stay out and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.William James