Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday in Easter Week

Saturday in Easter Week
We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us
from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the
kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he
has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal
joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Saturday in
Easter Week
or 118:19-24
Acts 4:13-21
Mark 16:9-15,20

Mark 16
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ 4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.* 
The Shorter Ending of Mark
[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.* ]] 
The Longer Ending of Mark
9 [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.* 15And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news* to the whole creation. 16The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes in their hands,* and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.*
+++   +++   +++
For the most part, modern Bible scholarship says that the best ancient manuscripts conclude the Gospel according to Mark with verse 16:8, the women fleeing terrified after meeting the young man dressed in white (presumably an angel). Early church fathers (Origen, Clement, Eusebius, Jerome) seem to have no knowledge of a longer ending. Verse 9 (shorter ending) and verses 9-20 (longer ending) seem to have been added later to smooth out the original abrupt ending. Knowing this seems important as part of the task of discovering what the original author meant to say and why, and what he intended to achieve. 

Mark’s thesis throughout his gospel is that no one understood that Jesus was the Son of God except Jesus himself (revealed to him at his baptism), some demons that he cast out, and the Roman centurion who saw him die. Mark’s agenda seems to be to persuade his audience that Jesus is the Son of God and to make us exasperated that nobody understood when it is so obvious. Superlative evangelism. Adding material at the end to make a better story defeats Mark’s purpose.
Moreover, verses 16-18 seem incredible, incompatible with what Jesus would likely say, and perhaps more suited to a later agenda of threatening those who might fall away from the Church..
Shalom: Peace.
Sabbath: right shoe first.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday in Easter Week

Friday in Easter Week
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away
the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always
serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus
Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Yesterday a friend sent me a car quiz. 

My score was 100% (48 correct out of 48 questions). 

And several cars were saved that I remember loving from my earlier years. 

Having saved them, what to do with them?

Share them

But one, none of these cars are made any longer. Match them up: 
Kaiser Manhattan, 

Packard Patrician, 

Buick Roadmaster

DeSoto Fireflite, 

Hudson Hornet.
Sorry this was not all that religious. For religion come to my Sunday School class, 9:15 to 10:15 in the Mary Stuart Poole Library at HNEC. As I will be away the following two Sundays, this will be our final class until fall.
Today: Royal Wedding

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Psalm 8

Thursday in Easter Week
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery
established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all
who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body
may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Lectionary for Thursday in Easter Week (BCP 894)
Psalm 8 or 114 or 118:19-24
Acts 3:11-26
Luke 24:36b-48
Until the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, all of our prayer books used the Coverdale Psalter from the sixteenth century Bible of Miles Coverdale (1488-1569). It precedes the seventeenth century King James Bible (1611) and was the familiar and beloved psalter of Anglicans for centuries. The 1979 book has a contemporary translation of the psalms, which are for the most part good, but lose some of their richness and memorability for both reading and singing. Of all the twentieth century changes to the prayer book, leaving the Coverdale Psalter is the one sadness that still hangs on in my heart. Songs and poetry should be modernized little or not! TW+
Psalm 8. Domine, Dominus noster.
O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world; thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens!
Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast
thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies,  
that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, even the work of thy fingers;  
the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; 
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?  
and theson of man, that thou visitest him? 
Thou madest him lower than the angels,  
to crown him with glory and worship. 
Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands;  
and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet:
All sheep and oxen; yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;  
and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the Emmaus Road: The Lord's Supper

Wednesday in Easter Week
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his
disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith,
that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives
and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever.
Lectionary Readings for the Day 
Psalm 105-1-8
or Psalm 118:19-24
Acts 3:1-10
Luke 24:13-35
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles* from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad.* 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth,* who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.* Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah* should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But 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. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They 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?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (NRSV)
Ah, now perhaps we see why yesterday’s reading from Acts stopped before the verse about the breaking of the bread, eh?! It seems that yesterday was indeed meant to focus on Baptism before today’s reading, a post-Resurrection appearance that focuses on the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, The Mass, The Eucharist, the Breaking of the Bread. This story, meeting Jesus on the Emmaus road, took place on the evening of that first Easter Day.

Not so in John, but in the synoptic gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, when Jesus “breaks bread” with anyone, he performs what the Church terms the four eucharistic actions: taking, blessing, breaking, giving -- thus lending eucharistic, though not necessarily sacrificial, meaning to the event. As it was so in the feeding of the five thousand, so in the feeding of the four thousand, so at the Last Supper, just so now with two believers on the road to Emmaus.

Very early on, even in time of Roman persecution when Christians had to meet secretly in homes and even in the catacombs to worship together, the Church held up the Breaking of the Bread as the central act of worship on the Lord’s Day. It is still so for us today. The body of Christ, the bread of heaven. The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. 

Apparently in those days of persecution and fear, Christians gathered for prayer, to read from the Hebrew Bible -- and in time from the letters of Paul and the gospels that began circulating among the faithful and eventually were canonized as our New Testament -- and to hear proclamations about the Risen Lord. Then the unbaptized were dismissed, perhaps with The Peace, and those who were baptized would know the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread. 

That practice would be the early situation establishing the tradition that only baptized Christians were invited to stay for the Eucharist; and that as much a precaution against Roman spies as anything. 
In our Baptismal Covenant we are asked
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
And we promise
I will, with God’s help.

The Holy Eucharist is still our central act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day. 

Some asked for a copy of my Easter sermon last Sunday. For nearly thirty years my practice, required by my supervising rector in Pennsylvania, has been to print several copies of every sermon. I still do that. There was a day and age when I took time and trouble properly to show all my references and citations; I no longer do that scrupulously and for that reason my sermons may not be emailed or posted or circulated on the internet. But anyone who ever wants a copy can pick one up in the parish office. TW+

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday in Easter Week
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus
Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to
light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may
abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the
Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever.
Lectionary Lessons for today (BCP 894). 
Psalm 33:18-22, Psalm 118:19-24, Acts 2:36-41, John 20:11-18
Acts 2. 36 (Peter preaching to those gathered) “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ 38Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:36-42, NRSV)
Many people are in Jerusalem for Shavuot (“Weeks”), the Jewish festival of weeks, with great anticipation counting down seven weeks from Passover to celebrate God giving the Law to Moses and also to celebrate the grain harvest. Jews from many nations would gather in Jerusalem for the celebration -- which Greek-speaking Jews called “Pentecost” (fifty days) -- and so those gathering round to hear Peter’s speech would have included not only native Judean residents of Jerusalem, but Jews from many places. Luke, the anonymous author who wrote both the Gospel according to Luke and the book of the Acts of the Apostles, relates that Peter’s preaching brought some three thousand people to Christ that day, and that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 
Oddly, the Lectionary selection stops at Acts 2:41, doesn’t include verse 42, which says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” It seems strange that the Lectionary would omit such a powerful statement; why might that be? Two reasons perhaps. One might be that the Lectionary selection intends to focus on the baptism conversion, Easter being a baptism season. 
Second perhaps, scholars generally date Luke’s writing to about 80-130 A.D., when the Christian Church was coming into its own; when the reference to apparently firmly established Baptism, Prayers and the Lord’s Supper could reflect later liturgical development toward the end of the first century as the church grew, contemporary with Luke but not contemporary with Peter’s time.
Whatever, my preference is to include verse 42; and my nature is to ponder why it was omitted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday in Easter Week
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with
awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to 
everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer provides for each day of Easter Week, Monday through Saturday, a Collect and Eucharistic Lectionary with psalms and lessons. For today:

Psalm 16:8-11
Psalm 118:19-24
Acts 2:14, 22-32

Matthew 28:9-15

Never in my over 75 years as an Episcopalian have we been in a parish that had Easter Week services. Might find that at a large church with daily mass though or one with a specially devout priest and congregation.
Psalm 16 and Acts 2:14, 22-32 are appointed for next Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter. Matthew 28:9-15 tells about the chief priests bribing the tomb guards to testify that Jesus‘ disciples came in the night and stole away his body. 

Psalm 118:19-24 is from an old Hebrew hymn that the Church now appoints to sing as a celebration of the Resurrection. Put on your right shoe first and sing:

Swing wide the city gates—the righteous gates!
      I'll walk right through and thank 
   This Temple Gate belongs to 
      so the victors can enter and praise. 
Thank you for responding to me;
      you've truly become my salvation!
   The stone the masons discarded as flawed
      is now the capstone!
   This is 
God's work.
      We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!
   This is the very day God acted—
      let's celebrate and be festive!
 (The Message)

Actually, I prefer the King James Version:

Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.



Sunday, April 24, 2011

A & J Easter

Yesterday morning Joe phoned from Winston-Salem, and “requested permission” to put the Annie & Jennie in the water. My son is an artist, a craftsman at building models. He is so patient, deliberate and careful, and everything he works on turns out perfect. Modeled after the fishing schooner Annie & Jennie that was wrecked in a storm at the old east pass in January 1918, this boat is a gift of love to me and a tribute to my uncle Alfred, who drowned at sea that night. 
The little twin-masted schooner sailed beautifully in a North Carolina lake yesterday and Joe emailed pictures, which I share on Easter Day. 

I pray that your day is as blessed as mine. Six months ago I never expected to be here Easter. But here I am, alive, restored, healed, alive, restored, healed, alive!!!
Come to church this morning. Children, music, a fantastic story. One Easter Day years ago, the late Reverend Mel Harper, rector of Nativity, Dothan, stepped up into the pulpit to deliver his Easter sermon. Mel proclaimed, “Christ is risen! What more can I say,” and stepped down!   
Χριστός ἀνέστη!  
Christos anesti
Christ is risen! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Holy Saturday
During a Lenten Wednesday evening program at Holy Nativity the subject of Holy Saturday services came up. I have offered the Holy Saturday liturgy at times in the past, but no one ever came except me and Linda so I gave it up years ago. When asked what my service consisted of I couldn’t remember, so I looked it up (BCP 283) and here it is. It begins with the collect for the day and includes a reading from 1 Peter, a brief homily, the Apostles' Creed, the anthems from the Burial Office, and concludes with the Lord's Prayer and the Grace.  
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.
1Peter 4:1-8
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 3You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. 5But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.
7 The end of all things is near;* therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
+++   +++   +++
Holy Saturday: God is dead. The perfectly serious Christian theological question today is, “Christ is God. On this day God was dead. Who was in charge while God was dead?”
If the answer seems self-evident be careful. If one says, “Why, God the Father was in charge, of course,” that may be a theological problem. If God is dead, God is dead. If God the Son is dead but God the Father is alive and in charge, do we imply two Gods, not one God? 
Anyone who thinks this is foolishness doesn’t realize the things that serious theologians will ponder! “Who was in charge on Holy Saturday” is one of them.
Where was Jesus on Holy Saturday? According to to our traditional English translation of the Apostles’ Creed he descended into hell a (Greek κατώτατα - “the lowest’, Latin inferno - Hades). The assertion “descended into Hell” has long been controversial but comes from two places in First Peter. The first is  3:18-19 “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison.” The second is part of the epistle reading for Holy Saturday, 4:5-6 “But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.” (NRSV). 
Christian tradition is that Jesus went down to hell, hades, inferno, the lowest, to offer salvation to those who had died without knowing and accepting the gospel.
Instead of “He descended into hell,” contemporary ecumenical English translations of the Apostles’ Creed say “He descended to the dead.” 
+++   +++   +++

The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.
    The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.
On Holy Saturday the Prayers of the People are the anthems from the Order for the Burial of the Dead: 
In the midst of life we are in death;
of whom may we seek for succor,
but of thee, O Lord,
who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty,
O holy and most merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts;
shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer;
but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty,
O holy and merciful Savior,
thou most worthy Judge eternal.
Suffer us not, at our last hour,
through any pains of death, to fall from thee.
The Holy Saturday liturgy concludes with the Lord’s Prayer and the Grace. 
Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our tresspasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and
the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore.
Go in peace.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Preeminent twentieth century theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) is reported to have said that a preacher should get in the pulpit with “a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” One plus or negative of this internet age is that it is so easy, instantaneous, to check the validity of whatever goes round and is coming round. For example, a ten second search reveals that Barthian scholars and researchers can’t find that Karl actually ever said that. It was a good thought though and Barth was brilliant: if he had thought of it he would have said it. Although if he were alive today he would be 125 years old and would say get in the pulpit with your iPad in one hand and hold on with the other so you don’t fall.
An iPad is a marvelous wonder. Any portable computer with mobile wireless telecommunication is a wonder. You don’t need a Bible or newspaper anymore. Every morning the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Automotive News are all sitting here ready to read soon as the screen lights up. And every conceivable translation of the Bible in every conceivable language is always here at my fingertips. Not only that, right here on the same computer are all my sermon notes. Really then, it isn’t necessary to take anything but my iPad into the pulpit. 
NYT headline just now: Nation’s Mood At Lowest In Two Years, Poll Shows
WP headline: Obama Authorizes Drone Strikes In Libya

AN headline: Toyota Sees At Least Six Months Before Normal Production
Bible headline: Crucify Him. Crucify Him.
“Why, what evil has he done? There is no fault in the man.”
+++   +++   +++
Think about it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday and Papaya

With mama at Community Health & Rehab this week, Linda and I were able to get out, so Tuesday we drove over to Destin Commons to select a wedding gift for Lauren at Williams Sonoma. After that we went to Fresh Market for our occasional browse and to get lunch at the deli. In the browse I picked up some whole wheat angel hair pasta, some walnuts and some shaved almonds to sprinkle on morning cereal. A strange breakfast cereal that obviously is healthy because it’s packaged in a ruggedly coarse looking box. A roast beef hoagie, ate half Tuesday supper, a quarter Wednesday supper and still a quarter in the refrigerator. Can’t load up a container from the olive stand anymore, loaded with salty brine, strictly forbidden. Linda scolded me for buying a few boiled shrimp, so I sat in the back seat and ate them while she was driving home (hey, it’s better than eating fried shrimp, nicht wahr?). Also picked up my favorite thing there, half a papaya. It’s for early breakfast this morning.
My first papaya was May or June 1966. I was officer in charge of a Navy branch office in Yokosuka, Japan and we were consolidating with the regional office in San Diego. Our commander had left and I was appointed to close the place down. Flew to Honolulu for a conference about the transition. Ocean front Waikiki, view of Diamond Head. For breakfast in the hotel one morning I ordered half a papaya and forever thereafter was smitten.
See this is the kind of inanity folks would get if I posted on Facebook. Orange juice instead of coffee soon after four a.m. while contemplating whether to write a +Time post. Maybe fruit, this morning papaya for sure. See Kristen off to Bay Hi at 7:10 then do my walk. Breakfast on return. Hot cereal with strong flavored grade C maple syrup. Or cold cereal with 1% milk walnuts and almonds, unprocessed wheat bran. About five a.m. LInda comes down, has coffee, reads the PCNH and works the crossword puzzle. 
On the History Channel last evening a show about the crucifixion which I only saw out of the corner of my eye because I find their religion shows disappointingly more sensational than serious. Major attention to the Shroud of Turin, controversial Roman Catholic devotional relic from the fourteenth century. Six post-resurrection appearances documented on a time line, though to do this one must combine all the canonical gospels and yield a fifth gospel that isn’t faithfully any of the Four. Another bit of sensationalism from the History Channel.
Maundy Thursday. Maundy apparently from Latin mandatum because at the Last Supper in John’s gospel Jesus gave his New Commandment mandate: “love others as I have loved you.” In the synoptics at the Last Supper Jesus instituted what we now celebrate as Holy Eucharist. Tonight 6:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist, reservation of the blessed Sacrament, stripping of the Altar.
Time for papaya.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


In the Liturgy of the Palms last Sunday we heard this gospel:
Matthew 21
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying 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. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.*4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 
5 ‘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.
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd* spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The 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!’
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Mark, Luke and John report Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey or a colt. Unfortunately, knowing Greek but obviously not Hebrew, and with his literal mind, Matthew presents a ludicrous image of Jesus riding into Jerusalem sitting astride two animals, a donkey and her colt, in order to fulfill prophecy.  Why is this?
A typical Greek-speaking Jew of his day, who was not brought up on the Hebrew Bible but on the Greek version of it, and a man who loves the Lord Jesus devoutly but is no rabbinical scholar, Matthew is writing to a Jewish-Christian audience. His agenda is to persuade his listeners that Jesus was the Messiah. More than the other three gospels, Matthew’s method is to proof-text verses of Old Testament scripture lifted out of context to show Jesus fulfilling Messianic prophecy. Here, Matthew is taking literally the words at Zechariah 9:9 as he understood it from the Septuagint, the Greek language translation of the Hebrew Bible (to us, the Old Testament): 
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is meek and riding on an ass, and (Greek kai) a young foal.
Here, Matthew does not seem familiar with Hebrew writing style. Perhaps he didn’t grow up attending shul. Matthew knew Greek but he evidently didn’t know Hebrew. In Zechariah the verse is meant to be lyrical, poetic in typical Hebrew style like the parallelism in the psalms, not literal. Matthew didn’t see that. From the Septuagint he takes the Greek conjunctive kai to mean “and” instead of “even” and applies it literally, and reports Jesus riding into Jerusalem astride two animals. 
From the Hebrew Bible the rabbis translate the Hebrew language into English as follows:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee, he is triumphant, and victorious, lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.

On what did Jesus ride into Jerusalem? It depends on which gospel one is reading. I’m going with Mark, Luke and John: he rode on a donkey, even a donkey colt.
And I’m going with our New Revised Standard translation that reads simply as follows:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
   Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
   triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
   on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NRSV)