Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Thursday Reflection 4.27.17

I had a most thought provoking experience last Thursday afternoon.  At the request of a Diocesan contact, I was interviewed by three Fordham University students as part of their assignment in a Theology course.  They had a series of questions they were posing to clergy from various Christian and (as I found out later) non-Christian traditions.  (I have never been anyone’s homework assignment before!)

Now from what I discerned from casual pre- and post- interview conversations, one of them is Roman Catholic, at least culturally, one is Jewish and one is a “none” as in “no religious affiliation.”  But all three of them happen to be taking this Introduction to Theology Course from such differing personal perspectives.

Now there were the expected questions for which I had been prepared:  comparison of the Anglican vs. Roman Catholic and or Protestant traditions (they never remember there is another “half” of Christianity in the East); the theodicy issue (“justify” a loving God in light of human suffering and evil – so judgmental when in college; where are we on the creation vs. evolution debate.

Then the surprise:  I was asked when I was 20 (their age, I presume) where did I “see myself” in 50 years as opposed to where I am today.  I was not only surprised by the question, but when we talked about it, one of them confessed that he often has asked this of his parents, and is shocked to have his question dismissed.  They never even asked this question that he seems (by his admission) so seriously concerned about – not obsessed but close!

Now I am wondering if this new generation of young adults who are going to replace us are all so far reaching in their concerns.  Of course the world of the early 1970’s would be so utterly foreign to this group.  Heck, my parents only just bought their first color TV in 1972.  How can anyone know what the next 40 or 50 years will bring: Internet and smart phones on the one hand, but 9/11 and world-wide terrorism on the other.

And yet, I find it hopeful that they are thinking in that direction.  It should remind the rest of us that we need to live for more than just the “here and now.”   Jesus’ retort to Pilate at his “trial” that His kingdom is “not of this world” should remind us all that we’re only passing through this earth for a few short years.  When I graduated high school some 50 years ago, I had no idea where I would be or what I would be doing in 2017.  Our purpose is to pass through this time and place and space we call our life, live out our commitment to Christ as best we can, touch other lives and bring others to that peace “that passes all understanding” as is our mandate.

The veil between now and your future is pierced only by God’s vision.  You need only be willing to be that disciple, be that Christian who will “love one another as (He) has loved you.”   And if you do, years from now, you will be where God has intended you to be.

An Easter Message from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, join together in proclaiming the triumphant victory of our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead. The message of Easter, which was first announced in Jerusalem, and has echoed down the centuries, now resounds again in Jerusalem, the city of the Resurrection.

This year we have witnessed the restoration of the Holy Aedicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, two centuries after the last renovation, and almost one hundred years after steel girders were installed to support it. The completion of this challenging work is testament to the support from around the globe involved in the project, and to thank them for their prayers and support.

The service to celebrate the unveiling of the restored Holy Aedicule was a testimony to our spirit of Ecumenism and a celebration of our unity in Christ. We stood together, as one body, one voice, around the empty tomb. We stood as Christians united in offering hope, perseverance and determination to transform this world under the banner of Christ who conquered all evil through his Resurrection. The sacred history of Jerusalem, and particularly of the Holy Sepulchre, is a constant reminder for the whole world that in this place and at a certain time, the Resurrection was proclaimed for all people and for all time. The Resurrection inspires a resolute steadfastness in the living stones (local Christians) as living witnesses in the Holy Land.

It is our prayer that the hope established through our risen Lord will enlighten the leaders and nations of the whole world to see this light, and to perceive new opportunities to work and strive for the common good and recognize all as created equal before God. This light of Christ draws the whole human family towards justice, reconciliation and peace, and to pursue it diligently. It draws us all to be unified and to be at harmony with one another. The power and resonance of the Resurrection permeates all suffering, injustice and alienation, bringing forth hope, light and life to all.

Through the Resurrection and the empty tomb, we need to remember that pain, suffering, and death do not have the final word, it is God – who has the first word, and the last. This was the message of the Easter angel, who challenged the first disciples – both women and men – “Why do you look for the living among the dead? [Jesus] is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24.5).
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

+Patriarch Theophilos III,
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian,
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa,
Apostolic Administrator, Latin Patriarchate

+Fr. Francesco Patton, ofm,
Custos of the Holy Land

+Archbishop Anba Antonious,
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Aba Embakob,
Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey,
Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate

+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage,
Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate

+Archbishop Suheil Dawani,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

+Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

+Bishop Pierre Malki,
Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

+Msgr. Georges Dankaye’,
Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

An Easter Message from our Presiding Bishop

Easter 2017 Message from Our Presiding Bishop

It’s taken me some years to realize it, but Jesus didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. He wasn’t on vacation. He wasn’t just hanging out in town. Jesus was in Jerusalem on purpose. He arrived in Jerusalem about the time of the Passover when pilgrims were in the city. When people’s hopes and expectations for the dawn of freedom that Moses had promised in the first Passover might suddenly be realized for them in their time.

Jesus arranged his entrance into Jerusalem to send a message. He entered the city, having come in on one side of the city, the scholars tell us, at just about the same time that Pontius Pilate made his entrance on the exact opposite side of the city. Pilate, coming forth on a warhorse. Pilate, with soldiers around him. Pilate, with the insignias of Rome’s Empire. Pilate, representing the Caesars who claimed to be son of god. Pilate, who had conquered through Rome the people of Jerusalem. Pilate, representing the Empire that had taken away their freedom. Pilate, who represented the Empire that would maintain the colonial status of the Jewish people by brute force and violence.

Jesus entered the city on the other side, not on a warhorse, but on a donkey, recalling the words of Zechariah:

Behold your King comes to you
Triumphant and victorious is He
Humble and riding on a donkey

Jesus entered the city at the same time as Pilate to show them, and to show us, that God has another way. That violence is not the way. That hatred is not the way. That brute force and brutality are not the way.

Jesus came to show us there is another way. The way of unselfish, sacrificial love. That’s why he entered Jerusalem. That’s why he went to the cross. It was the power of that love poured out from the throne of God, that even after the horror of the crucifixion would raise him from death to life.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to start a movement. A movement to change the face of the earth. A movement to change us who dwell upon the earth. A movement to change the creation from the nightmare that is often made of it into the dream that God intends for it.

He didn’t just happen to be in Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday. He went to Jerusalem for a reason. To send a message. That not even the titanic powers of death can stop the love of God.  On that Easter morning, he rose from the dead, and proclaimed love wins.

So you have a blessed Easter. Go forth to be people of the Resurrection. Follow in the way of Jesus. Don’t be ashamed to love. Don’t be ashamed to follow Jesus.

Have a blessed Easter.  And bless the world.  Amen.

            The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

 

A Thursday Reflection 4.6.17

Last Saturday we had another of those power glitches where the area around the church (as far as the traffic light at Rt. 35 and Rt. 123 east and who knows how far west) lost electricity.  So for almost three hours, all my plans for updating lists and schedules, prepping documents, writing sermons for Holy Week, downloading and printing our Canon Law class notes – all those wonderful plans I had made came to a crashing halt!   Once again, I learn that as much as I plan out my schedule and think I am in control of my life, I get rudely reminded of how little control of my life I truly have.
I won’t speak for all clergy, but I know “me.”   I want to have things organized, processed and controlled weeks ahead of time.  I think I need, can and must “do it all.”  Whether I believe I can do it “well” or not never crosses my mind.  Whether it is really all that important or not, the most important question, hardly ever gets asked.
Approaching Holy Week should remind me (and maybe the power loss was a not-so-subtle reminder from my Boss) that what ultimately matters in terms of eternal value has nothing to do with what I accomplish.   The Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection has been God’s way of telling us all: it’s not about what YOU do, what or whom YOU love, or that YOU have to merit divine love, forgiveness or redemption.   It is NEVER about what I have to prove.  Redemption is gift.  Redemption is grace and it is given not because I am so perfect but because I am not!  “When I survey the wondrous cross…” – so goes this hymn!  These events we remember and celebrate next week:  it is never about us, but it is always about what was done for us!