Friday, March 30, 2018

John 18:1-19:42

            Then Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples went in.
            Judas, his betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus and the disciples often met there.

            So, Judas brought a band of soldiers along with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.

            Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, "Who are you looking for?"
            They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth."
            Jesus stated, "I am."
            Judas, his betrayer, was standing with them.
            When Jesus said to them, "I am," they stepped back and fell to the ground.

            Jesus repeated his question, "Whom are you looking for?"
            And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
            "I told you,” Jesus answered, “ I am. So if you are looking for me, let these men go."
            (He said this to fulfill the words that he had spoke, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.")
            Then Simon Peter had a sword. He drew it, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
            "Put your sword back into its sheath,” Jesus said to Peter, “Do you imagine I am not going to drink the cup my father has given me?”

            So the soldiers, their officer, and the Judean police, arrested Jesus and bound him.
First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Judeans that it was better to have one person die for the people.

            Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. The other disciple was known to the high priest; he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.
            The woman at the gate spoke to Peter:
            “You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?"
            He replied, "I am, not."
            It was cold. The slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire. They were standing around it, warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

            Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching.
            "I have spoken openly to the world,” was Jesus’ reply, “I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Judeans come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why are you asking me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said."
            When Jesus said this, one of the police standing nearby slapped him on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?"
            "If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered, “testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
            Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

            Meanwhile, Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?"
            He denied it saying, "No, I am not."
            One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, spoke up, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?"
            Again Peter denied it, and instantly the cock crowed.

            Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, where the governor was stationed. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, because they were anxious not to become ritually unclean, and unable to eat the Passover meal.
            So Pilate went outside to ask, "What accusation do you bring against this man?"
            “If he wasn’t wicked,” they replied, “we wouldn’t be handing him over to you.”

            “Then take him yourselves and judge him by your law,” Pilate replied to them.
            “We are not allowed to put anyone to death,” the Religious Leaders replied (This was so that the word of Jesus might come true, when he had indicated what sort of death he was going to die.)
            So Pilate re-entered the Praetorium, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
            “Was it your idea to ask that?” Jesus responded, “or did others tell you about me?"
            “I am not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied, “Your own people, and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"
            Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Judeans. Clearly, my kingdom is not that sort of kingdom.”

            “So!” Pilate said, "you are a king?"
            Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
            “What is truth?” Pilate asked him.

            With those words, he went back out to the Crowd, who had gathered, and told them, "You have no case, he is not guilty. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you ‘The King of the Jews’?"
            “Not this man,” they shouted in reply, "No, give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas was an insurgent.)

            So Pilate re-entered the Praetorium. There he took Jesus and had him flogged.
            The soldiers wove a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and dressed him up in a purple robe. They would approach him, announcing, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and then strike him on the face.

            Pilate went out yet again, "Look,” he said, “I am bringing him out to you, so that you will know that I still find no case against him, he’s without guilt.”
            So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.
            “Behold!” Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"
            When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
            Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find him not guilty."

            They answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he claimed to be the Son of God."

            Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He re-entered the Praetorium and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?"
            Jesus gave him no answer, so Pilate said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"
            "You would have no power over me,” Jesus replied, “unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
            From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the crowd cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."

            When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and he sat on the judge's bench,

The bench called “The Stone Pavement” (or in the Hebrew, Gabbatha).
            It was about noon on the day of Preparation for the Passover. “Look,” said Pilate, "Here is your King!"

            They cried out: “Away with him! Away with him!” and “Crucify him!"
            Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?"
            The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor."

            Then he handed him over to them to be crucified and they took Jesus away.

            Jesus carried his own cross

and he went out to what is called “The Place of the Skull,” (or in the Hebrew, Golgotha), that was where they crucified him. They also crucified two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
            Pilate also had a notice written and put on the cross.
            Many Judeans read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

            Then the chief priests said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"
            “What I have written I have written,” Pilate answered.
            When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic, which was made of a single piece of cloth. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but diced for it, to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says, "They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they decide with dice."
            And that is what the soldiers did.
            Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
            Jesus saw his mother and beside her, the disciple whom he loved.
            “Mother,” he said to her, “here is your son."
            Then he spoke to the disciple.
            "Here is your mother."
            From that hour the disciple welcomed Mary into his own home.

            After this, when Jesus knew that all was completed, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty."
            A jar full of sour wine was standing nearby, so they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.
            Jesus drank it, and then said, "It is finished."
            Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

            It was the day of Preparation. The coming Sabbath was an especially solemn and sensitive one, so the Judeans did not want the bodies left on the cross during that time. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed.
            The soldiers came and broke the legs of the men who were crucified with Jesus, first the one, then the other. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead. They did not break his legs.

            Instead, one of the soldiers thrust a spear into his side, and at once blood and water came out.

(He who saw this has testified truthfully. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth, so that you too may believe.)
            These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken."
            And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."
            After all this, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Religious Authorities.
            Pilate gave him permission; so he came and took his body.
            Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, came too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.

They took Jesus’ body and wrapped it with spiced cloth, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
            Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. So, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sermon: Christ Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Christ Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

          Nicholas, the meal you will receive this evening
—Holy Communion,
your first communion
—is a special meal.
It is a meal that reveals Jesus Christ to you, to us…
Reveals Jesus Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,
in this meal we find the Christ of Memory, Christ in our Midst, and the Christ to Come.

          Today we remember,
today we experience the Christ of Memory
-the Christ of Memory… in this church today, at that table right over there, we remember the words the Apostle Paul passes on to the Christians in Corinth as they wrestle with question of how to eat together as equals, in a world that insists on inequality.
-The Christ of Memory… Paul remembering words he’d received from Jesus’ disciples, described in multiple gospels, the words Jesus said on the night before he was handed over to Rome, killed by the powerful and the pious. Jesus’ promise, his covenant with us, made in this meal.
-The Christ of Memory…Jesus’ last meal also a Passover meal,
Passover a meal of memory too
—remembering God saving the People down in Egypt, a meal of flat bread for fast escape out of Egypt.
The Christ of memory in this meal of memory…

          Today we experience God with us, Jesus Christ in our midst, in this meal…
-Christ in our midst… God is everywhere, that is true, but here in this meal we experience him, because he promised to show up, so we are uniquely conscious of him—here in this meal Christ with us,
and where Christ is there is always forgiveness and love.
-Christ in our midst…the physicality of this love, a meal, consuming it, the promise becoming part of you,
-grit in your teeth, love
-the warmth of wine, love.
-Christ in our midst… the physicality of it… love…
love commanded at our feet…
love not only described but enacted
—the intimacy, the closeness, the tenderness
—love one another in this way, kneel in service to one another, love one another with humility and amid one another’s humanity and mess…
-Christ in our midst… yes, here in community, here in word, here in meal, here in service of neighbor.
Christ is in our midst in this meal.

          Today we look for the Christ to come, the Christ of the future, the future feast to come, which is already here
-Christ to come… when we become smug, confident in our own powers, we’ll look forward to the Great Feast to come and realize the Great Host will humble himself and wash our feet and be self-giving to the point of giving his very life.
-Christ to come… when we have been stripped bare, empty-handed, tears in our eyes, shell shocked by life, we’ll look forward to the Great Feast to Come, where every tear will be wiped away and we shall be sheltered by the wings of the Mother Hen, fed with the bread of life and cup of salvation.
-Christ to come… this future feast, running backward like water down a hill, filling our present with it’s power, shaping us to live into that which shall be—a gravity, an unseen force pulling us into the future.

The Christ to come in this meal today.

Christ Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Christ in this meal which is an amazing exchange, the very commerce of the City of God. Christ and all His holy ones taking on all that is wretched within us and replacing it with all that is blessed, that we might continually turn ourselves to our neighbors in need, continuing this great exchange, for God does not need what he has already blessed us with, however our neighbor does.
Christ with all who cry to God, even in their silent yearnings, for freedom and an end to slavery.
Christ in this meal with friends, betrayers, deniers, doubters
—disciples all.
Christ in all times and places, in Catacombs and Cathedrals and infant’s crib, by bedside and graveside.
Christ closer than we will ever know.
Christ known in grit and fire, the physicality of our life
—this very moment.
Christ in emptiness and in fullness, the weighty pull of both.
Christ calling us forward to the future feast.
In this meal, the Christ of Memory, Christ in our Midst, and the Christ to Come.