Monday, March 30, 2020

Sunrise and Shrimpers

Monday: on the new routine, my day of the week to post our lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday, Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion. Walk this morning: quite short because most of the hour we sat on benches at the Middle School door of HNES, chatting about remembering When! 

Out on the Bay last evening, one shrimp boat and the same shrimp boat finishing up early dawn as we had coffee on 7H porch:

here docked at StAndrewsMarina, a shot of LoverBoy showing her stern:

From 7H porch watching her glide back and forth, she seems so tiny, enormous up close but easily identifiable by the stern ladder.

Before the Storm it was common to see six or seven shrimpers out on StAndrewsBay all night long, and working from the Pass down to Tyndall Bridge, and the close channel from the hairpin turn to Hathaway Bridge. Anymore and since Cat5HMichael, LoverBoy is the only boat we've seen out shrimping. In due course, I suppose all will be well from the hurricane, and in another due course, from covid-19. Everyone sheltering in place, nothing open. But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, even if quite different. 

The Liturgy of the Palms
The Gospel
Matthew 21:1-11
When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, `The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
"Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

The Response
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Confitemini Domino
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
"His mercy endures for ever."
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 "This is the gate of the Lord; *
he who is righteous may enter."
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing, *
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! *
Lord, send us now success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; *
we bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord; he has shined upon us; *
form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.
28 "You are my God, and I will thank you; *
you are my God, and I will exalt you."
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.

The Liturgy of the Word
The Collect
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament
Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens--
wakens my ear 
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious, 
I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 
he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?

The Response
Psalm 31:9-16
In te, Domine, speravi
9 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; *
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
and also my throat and my belly.
10 For my life is wasted with grief,
and my years with sighing; *
my strength fails me because of affliction,
and my bones are consumed.
11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbors,
a dismay to those of my acquaintance; *
when they see me in the street they avoid me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; *
I am as useless as a broken pot.
13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd;
fear is all around; *
they put their heads together against me;
they plot to take my life.
14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord. *
I have said, "You are my God.
15 My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
16 Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me."

The Epistle
Philippians 2:5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God 
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, 
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself 
and became obedient to the point of death-- 
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name 
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.

The Gospel
Matthew 26:14- 27:66
One of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd, 
the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 

Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man 
seated at the right hand of Power 
and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday School March 29, 2020: κατα Λάζαρον

Well, okay then, a joyful Sunday morning to you, remember, a Sunday IN Lent is surrounded by Lent, bracketed by Saturday of Lent and Monday of Lent; but is not Sunday OF Lent. In fact, there are no Sundays OF Lent, and no Sundays are Fast days. Sundays in Lent are, like all other Sundays (BCP p.16), feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ: enjoy chocolate, eat ice cream, spread butter on your cracklin' bread and eat two big pieces, eat fried chicken, say the bad words you swore to give up for Lent, you're clear, because Sundays are not part of the forty-day Lenten fast. If anyone gives you a ration about it, come to me for Absolution!

Thinking that the rector may preach on the Gospel lesson this morning, I normally would not do a Sunday School lesson on it; but today's different because I'm pretty sure what's in my mind for John 11:1-45 will not be in his sermon. This is what I would bring to the table if we were gathering in the parish library for our 9:15 to 10:15 session.

The first thing is that, reading this gospel aloud, I "correct" the Greek word Ἰουδαῖοι from its usual English rendering "Jews" to "Judeans". I've done that in the written text below (using Ἰουδαῖοι in each case without taking time to bring over the Greek noun's grammatical case in John's NT Greek) (verses 8, 19, 31, 33, 36, 45). Granted, many scholars have said that whoever wrote the Gospel according to John was anti-semitic; but Ἰουδαῖοι can be translated either Jews or Judeans. Seeing that Jesus himself is a Jew, and the Galilean disciples with him also are Jews, and I believe the beloved disciple and evangelist may himself be a Judean Jew, it makes most sense to me that they are not afraid of "Jews" but of the Judeans who are murderously hostile toward Jesus the Galilean Jew.

My second issue is John 11:3 where the sisters say specifically ἴδε ὃν φιλεῖς "he whom you love". It is not erotic, mind, the evangelist's word is φιλεῖς, reflecting Jesus' love for his friend. The verse is, to me, most significant, because it's the first identification in the gospel of the disciple Jesus loved, the beloved disciple, who in closing identifies himself as the gospel's author. From John 11:3 on, this carries through the rest of the story, and there's a logic to it. I think (and I'm not alone, any number of scholars have written about this) it's the gospel writer himself, quietly, subtly perhaps because the Christians by then were being persecuted, but tenderly with precious memories from long ago, identifying himself as the disciple Jesus loved:

The one (13:23) ὃν ἠγάπα who sat at table with Jesus during the Last Supper. 

The one who, being a "local" (Bethany was a "suburb" of Jerusalem, just over the hill) prominent and wealthy young man who lived nearby, was (18:15,16) well known to the high priest and therefore had ready access and took Peter into the courtyard where Jesus was being questioned. 

The one who (19:26,27) was standing at the foot of the cross, ὃν ἠγάπα to whom Jesus said Behold, your son and Behold, your mother; who, because he lived just over the hill in Bethany, was able to take her into his home that very hour. 

The young man who (20:2), when alerted by Mary Magdalen on Easter morning, ὃν ἐφίλει outran the older Peter in racing to the empty tomb, and courteously honoring Peter's age, entered the tomb after Peter.

The one who (21:7), there with the disciples when they saw Jesus cooking breakfast on the beach, ὃν ἠγάπα told Peter, "It is the Lord".

The one (21:20f) to whom Peter pointed ὃν ἠγάπα and asked Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" and Jesus retorted "What business is it of yours if I want him to remain until I come?!"

Finally, most astonishingly and notwithstanding that many scholars observe that John chapter 21 is a second final ending and not unlikely addendum to the Gospel, (21:24) the one who identifies himself as the Gospel writer. Whom history has named "John the beloved disciple" over the ages, but who in fact was Lazarus, the disciple Jesus loved, the beloved disciple. We have here the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ κατα Λάζαρον according to Lazarus.

I'm serious. I'm not kidding. I'm not alone. Make what you will of the varying NT Greek words the evangelist uses for loved - φιλεῖς and ἠγάπα - it makes no difference: Jesus' special friend and beloved disciple, of whom Peter obviously was jealous (20:21) because Lazarus was closer to Jesus (13:23 and all the rest of the story), was Lazarus.

Den Jesus liebte: er heißt Johann, aber er war Lazarus.

I suggest as well, a Sunday School Lesson For Another Time, that this same Lazarus is also the unnamed young man who, in Mark's gospel (Mark 14:51) escapes from the guards, whose clothing is ripped off as he jerks loose and runs away naked. And that it's the same unnamed young man spoken of in Secret Mark, original to Mark but later for two obvious reasons, excised from Mark chapter 10.

κατα Λάζαρον
John 11:1-45 New Revised Standard Version

11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45 Many of the Ἰουδαῖοι Judeans therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Top: Rembrandt van Rijn 1630-1632

Center: Giotto di Bondone, 1306

Bottom: attributed to Christoph Schwarz, Germany, 16th century. Enlarged, the detail in this painting is absolutely spectacular.

It's not without issues of course, questions. A Palestinian, Judean, Jew writing in Greek some sixty or more years after Good Friday and Easter; but it's not unlike the questions about the Jew Matthew, first century tax collector, writing forty years on, in koine Greek, to persuade members of his Jewish Christian church to stick with Jesus despite the tensions between them and their Jewish families, and possibly official persecution. I'm sticking with my notion about Lazarus.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Seems like

Have you noticed how quiet it is? I don't mean the vehicle traffic, businesses closed and hardly anyone on the sidewalks. Seems like war has stopped for the moment. Or at least we aren't hearing about it. 

We aren't hearing so much about politics either, are we, the raving and fist-shaking. 

I don't think we're coming together, we can still hold on to our hatreds, keep them in the back of our minds, because we'll surely want them later when we get busy putting the world back like it was. God forbid.

Sure, covid-19 is worrisome and scary, and I'm as concerned as you. We're sheltering here in 7H, as safe as we can reasonably make ourselves, pretty much following the guidelines. It's nice to be concerned about self and others for the moment instead of hating Red or Blue people and drone targeting people in other countries who hate us. 

It was this way for a while after 9/11 also, remember? People came together, united for a while. But then ...

Humans come together against a common enemy, there must be something instinctive about it. If we're to come out of the current covid-19 damage and scare perceiving something positive about it, maybe we can say that for a while it made us love our neighbor as ourself. Covid-19 is not "the will of God", and anyone who thinks it is is either exceedingly simple or worships not God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, but some nasty deity such as the Evil Eye, or Satan again set loose on Job. Covid-19 is one of those "evil in the nature of things" moments that happens from time to time in the created order. It is God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit who may lead us to bring something good out of it, perhaps an awakening that we could all always be united for the common good against a universal enemy. 

Such as hatred of people who are different from us.

I can pray so. So might you.

In the meantime, sheltering in place here, as usual I'm not satisfied simply to read, finish, and re-read books I already have. So I order a couple related to my peculiar interest. One, already dropped at the front door and I'm 86 of 418 small print pages into it, is Tapping Hitler's Generals, transcripts, observations, and analyses of secret conversations 1942-1945 edited by S Neitzel. Why'm I fascinated with them? I think because I cannot fathom bottomless evil taking over the minds of an entire people, Volk. What happens to the personality, individually and corporately, of folks who once seemed civilized, that turns us into barbaric monsters? It's more than a rhetorical question. Interested because I was a boy growing up watching the Third Reich expand and collapse. Interested because I identify shamefully as of German descent, some of my cousins would have saluted and participated. Interesed because, witnessing My Lai, I know it includes us. Indeed, I see it happening now, here in the evil certitude of bitter political division and in anti-semitism, for a while guiltily suppressed but now spreading shamelessly again across Europe. I wonder, Genesis 6:5-7, if it's Time for Noah & the Flood again, or (James Baldwin) The Fire Next Time. Or at least a warning - - I know what you're thinking, I've dismissed that and I'm not going there. Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah would perceive it and go there, but I don't and won't.

Also in the meantime, besides books, other treats to enhance contented isolation here in 7H, an order to O&H Bakery in Wisconsin for Kringles &c. Those are busy folks: I ordered Wednesday afternoon, status email came right back accepting my order and saying it was being packed and shipped, status update almost immediately that FedEx had picked up the order and it was en route, another status update saying it was in Memphis, another update saying it was on the FedEx truck in Lynn Haven and out for delivery. A knock at the door and a status update saying it had been delivered.

Bite of cherry, cranberry & cream cheese Kringle with black coffee for breakfast.

Everything seems different and other. Seems like we could make everything better as we work through it and come out of it.

Picture, I need a picture. Think I'll post this one again. Seen yesterday during the walk past HNES, a prayer & hope fence.


Friday, March 27, 2020


Hope Fence. Snapped on the walk this morning: prayers at Holy Nativity Episcopal School.


It isn't prison, it's the balcony rail of our stateroom

here on our cruise ship. We're not certain where we're going, but it's delightful here. Certainty has never been part of my baggage anyway, religious certainty, and now in the current health crisis, certainty is out the window for all of us and we are left with hope. 

But then, it has always been that way, hasn't it, hope; we're just not conscious of it, working as we do on assumptions that settle as fair certainty. 

I remember, and so does Robert, we've talked about it on our walks

walking buds for the past eight or nine years, 
friends since I guess 1942, 
went to each other's 7th birthday parties, 
both grew up on Massalina Bayou, 
Cove School class of 1949, Bay High 1953,
had crushes on some of the same girls - - 

we remember days at Cove School when we contemplated the year 2000, so far in the future, and we would be 65, for eight and nine and ten year old boys, old age beyond comprehension, certainly no one could live so long. Now we are two decades beyond. God willing, Jesus tarries, and the Evil Eye don't knock, we both turn 85 this year, Robert in May, me in September. No certainty, but hope.

As I say, when it comes down to it, hope is what it has always been anyway.

Looking at Sunday's lectionary readings from the Bible, I'd say something about Paul's lesson from Romans 8 this morning, but Paul can leave me cold. The Old Testament is stories, many of promise and hope, the Gospels are stories of love and victory, Revelation is a great and scary story with a bright and happy ending. But Paul is theology; yes, hope too. 

The psalm for Sunday is prayerful, and filled with hope. Well suited as a liturgical song in response to Ezekiel's encounter with the Dry Bones and God's promise to restore his people Israel from death to life. As we hunker down sheltering in place, the psalm is equally well suited to our own hope these days. 

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, 
O Lord, who could stand?

For there is forgiveness with you;
therefore you shall be feared.

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; 
in his word is my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, 
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;

With him there is plenteous redemption, 
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.


Maybe my favorite shelter in place picture so far

Right Shoe First & Praise The Lord


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sanctify a fast

Seven levels up and looking down, around, east down 9th Street and north out Beck Avenue, nothing. No living soul moving in StAndrews,

nor machine. Traffic signals at 11th, 15th, and Hwy 98 by once quick and lively St Andrew Baptist Church, change red green yellow red green yellow red green for traffic that is not there. From 7H porch scanning StAndrewsBay east, west, south, a dull, humid, colorless day with overcast sky, flat, gray Bay. White haze lays a gauze between me and where Shell Island ought have been. An apocalyptic image of a world that has up and rid itself of its one enemy since "Let there be light" and there was light, the sixth day, let us make אָדָ֛ם in our image. earthlings: dust, to dust returned.

While the picture is that gray and hazy, reality is not so dire. History will judge, there being historians to tell. Providence may put us on the endangered list, but we in God's image are fighters and survivors. Earth abides, Ish clinging to dominion precariously as in some places (Lord, give us a sign) monkeys come up and snatch food from us. Monkeys, rats, dogs. Black bears.

What do I think? It doesn't matter what I think. I think by the time football season starts again many Americans will have died; I pray most will have lived as full and satisfying a life as I. I think the scaffolding will still be up. I think, Congress concurring, the White House will cancel the 2020 election based on it's too risky to let people out to vote and certainly far, far too dangerous to risk changing leadership amidst the crisis. I think the locusts. I think Ezekiel & the Valley of Dry Bones won't be the only story of God's people USA. Joel 1:1-20.

Nevertheless, irregardless, & notwithstanding gloomy Thomas Hardy, I think that as long as there's deer sausage for breakfast, Life Is Good. Sausage bun, mayo, smear of yellow mustard. Mug of hot, black coffee.



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday morning Bible study

From the Revised Common Lectionary, our Bible readings for this coming Sunday, March 29, 2020, the 5th Sunday in Lent, Year A, are these:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

Reading these Propers, as we call the set of readings appointed for the day (which I posted here on my +Time blog day before yesterday, Monday), we perceive a “theme” for the Sunday, and the theme is resurrection, being resurrected, brought back from the dead. If I were preaching Sunday (I’m not), I might enjoy working with Ezekiel and the Dry Bones, a good old Sunday School Bible story if ever there was one:

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

When pulling together a mid-week Bible study session, I never tried to arrive at class with a sermon equivalent, but an introduction of sorts that would put everyone in a frame of mind for whatever discussion we’d have that day. This is different in that there’s no class assembled to chat with each other and get conversation going. So what I think I’ll do, and I’m thinking as I type this, is put together some observations about this story, and the resurrection theme of which the lectionary framers made the stories of Ezekiel and the Dry Bones the introduction, and Jesus raising Lazarus the climax.

An immediate take is that God who in the beginning said “Let there be” and it was so, can do anything simply by his Word. That’s a theme of the seven day creation story in Genesis Chapter One. That’s also a theme of the Easter story when, Episcopal priest the late Martin Bell, author of The Way of the Wolf, wrote, God stepped into Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning, said “Get up, Son”, and they went home and colored Easter eggs. 

So, Word. Just as, in Sunday’s gospel story, Jesus, whom Gospel John acclaims as the Word of God, stands outside his friend’s tomb and shouts, “Lazarus, come out!!!” and the man who was dead stumbles out, obedient to the Word.

Although it's not offered as history but as Heilsgeschichte, a holy story, we see the same power of the Word at work in Ezekiel's vision of the Dry Bones, God's authoritative and commanding Word working through Ezekiel the prophet. Adonai Elohim, the Lord God, tells Ezekiel what to say, Ezekiel says it, and the music starts, the bones begin to stir and reconnect, and, word after word from God, they are remembered (which means putting the members back together, reassembling the parts), and as the story ends, what once was dead is alive again, a vast multitude.

Like Judaism, our heritage, we Christians are a religion of stories, and our stories witness to the life-giving power of God's Word, power to bring us out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life, as our Eucharistic Prayer says.

We have experience with that in real life as individually and in community we continue to recover from Category 5 Hurricane Michael, still hurting and healing, yet in some ways coming back together better than ever. With this covid-19, we are there again, hoping and praying that the power of God working in us does infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, lifting our spirits as we work through this crisis.

At any event, what I’d do with Ezekiel is look at the Sitz im Leben, the situation in life from which Ezekiel speaks as God’s prophet. Ezekiel is in exile, remember?! He begins (Ezekiel 1:1f) “In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel is among those in forced detention of Judeans in Babylon after the Babyonian conquest of the kingdom of Judah in 598/7 and 587/6 BC. The homeland is desolate. Jerusalem is destroyed. The southern kingdom, Judah, is dead. The people have been carried away into captivity. Ezekiel’s heart is heavy, and the hearts of all Judeans in captive exile with him. So heavy that the people’s yearning and fury is well and truly told in song: 

Psalm 137:

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, 
when we remembered you, O Zion.
As for our harps, we hung them up on the trees in the midst of that land.
For those who led us away captive asked us for a song, 
and our oppressors called for mirth: 
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
How shall we sing the LORD'S song upon an alien soil?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you, 
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

Remember the day of Jerusalem, O LORD,
against the people of Edom, who said, 
"Down with it! down with it! even to the ground!"

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, 
happy the one who pays you back for what you have done to us!
Happy shall he be who takes your little ones, 
and dashes them against the rock!

In exile, the people are in anguish, homesick, enraged at their captors. And so the Lord commands Ezekiel to speak words of encouragement with promise of resurrection, that Israel will live again. Ezekiel tells God’s promise as prophecy in the story of the Dry Bones, a story that carries God’s assurance. The bones are dead Israel, and God will bring all Israel back to life. 

It’s a good story, Ezekiel and the Dry Bones, and teamed with Jesus and Lazarus it's a great story. A good spell. A gospel. Blessed assurance!

Along with the world around us this morning, we are in our own exile, sheltering in place. We need encouragement, hope and promise of relief, life again, especially from the Holy One. Ezekiel and the Dry Bones is a creation story, isn’t it. A new creation by God’s Word, full of hope and love.

This morning as you shelter in place against covid-19, try to identify with God's people Israel in Babylonian Exile: like them, how might today's "exile" affect your own feelings, your mood, your state of mind?

The Babylonian Exile lasted a long time, years. Imagine God's people Israel dealing with their frustration and anger and boredom to keep their sanity, to keep from going crazy: how might recalling their struggle and determination lift your spirits and help you use your time in exile fruitfully?

As illustrated in Psalm 137 (yes, it has a shockingly murderous ending!!, but did you ever feel road-rage against a stupid driver?!), in exile, God's people Israel developed bitter hatred for their Babylonian captors. Remembering their feelings, what feelings of blame and resentment may begin to stir within you as our "exile" continues?

Songs, music, art, Psalm 137 as an example, can be an outlet for facing, expressing and dealing with anger and frustration. Draw a picture, or write a poem or song, or a paragraph or two, about how this shelter in place exile is getting  to you. If you don't feel creative, sing (scroll down) "By the Rivers of Babylon" with Boney M. Then sing "Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones". If you don't know the tune, make up one.

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
Shin bone connected to the knee bone
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the back bone
Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
Neck bone connected to the head bone
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again.
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Read the lesson again, Ezekiel and the Dry Bones. Now visualize God: calm, loving, coming present in your life in exile today, as God came present with his people Israel in the Words of Ezekiel’s encouraging prophecy of hope and promise. We shall overcome, people will get through this time of trial, just as they did, to rebuild the city walls 
and the Temple, 
and put Jerusalem back together.


Boney M "By the Rivers of Babylon"

"Rivers Of Babylon"
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Requiring of us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land

Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered Zion

By the rivers of Babylon (dark tears of Babylon)
There we sat down (You got to sing a song)
Ye-eah we wept, (Sing a song of love)
When we remembered Zion. (Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

By the rivers of Babylon (Rough bits of Babylon)
There we sat down (You hear the people cry)
Ye-eah we wept, (They need their God)
When we remembered Zion. (Ooh, have the power)