Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2020


Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church

The First Sunday in Advent

29 November 2020

 

 


“Come!”

 

Isaiah 64:1-9

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18

 

INI

 

Rend the heavens wide!

 

I spent several years of my life living in Missouri. There were the six years at Saint Paul’s High School and College where I went to boarding school, and then there were four years at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. During those years I often heard and began to understand the state’s nickname, “the Show Me State.” The culture there demands proof – show me the proof of what you are telling me. It has reached an unfortunate result in these days, as people distrusted the news about Covid19, demanding proof, and only getting it in a surge of sick people, and in record deaths. We pray for those who are ill, and the repose of the souls of those who have died.

 

This attitude, a very human attitude, we see in the scriptures. In the first reading from Isaiah, we have a human complaint that is all too common in the scriptures, especially in the history of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures. Isaiah sees the following progress in his reception of Israel’s complaint. The process begins with a remembrance of God’s mercy. 

 

“The loving deeds of the Lord I will recall,

The glorious acts of the Lord,

Because of all the Lord has done for us,

The immense goodness to the house of Israel,

Which (God) has granted according to (God’s) mercy

And (God’s) many loving deeds.” – Isaiah 63:7

 

It is a delightful recounting of all that God has done, and we hear passages like it often in the Hebrew Scriptures, especially in the psalms. The recollection, however, does not end there – There is more.  What follows is confession, oddly one that reverses its intent and that blames God:

 

“Why do you make us wander, Lord, from your ways,

And harden our hearts so that we do not fear you?” – Isaiah 63:17a.

 

It is a strange confession, one that does not tie the sin to the sinner, but rather blames God for the confusion and difficulty of the time. Rather than looking to the consequences of their own faithlessness, these people look elsewhere. It is an attitude of selfishness that we might see in our own time as well. The final result in Isaiah’s progression of prayer is a heart-rending plea from the people. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you,” You may be familiar with an Advent hymn sung often in Lutheran Churches, “O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide.” Here is the yearning for God to appear again, and to make things right. Here is an understanding of God, as not only the One who intervenes, but as the One who is Creator and Savior. 

 

“Yet, Lord, you are our father; 

We are the clay and you our potter:

We are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:7

 

The question then is, in this troublesome time, as we await Christ’s coming again, what shall we be molded by God to be? To add to the difficulty, as the Gospel for today so graciously tells us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” It matches our own dilemma – when will Covid be over, when can we return to our normal lives, when can we be with those whom we love? And a similar wondering about how we shall be accompanies not only our actual lives in this time, but our liturgical lives as well.

 

Enriched in him

 

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and gives thanks for them. In his address to them he recognizes in them the success of their political and cultural life – Corinth was wealthy and prosperous, just as we are. He also reminds them of the wealth of their spiritual gifts. These were gifts, just like ours, unrelated to physical things – something beyond money, buildings, and things. Paul recommends to us a style of waiting that knows that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift. 

 

As the people of God, we begin a period of waiting in Advent. This year we are well prepared for it, for we have been called in these days to be alone, in our waiting. We are apart in our longing. We are isolated in our prayers. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, and yet God promises to be with us as we wait. Jesus gives us clues as well. It is a most appropriate example for you who live in what was a land of orchards. 

 

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” – Mark 13:28-29

 

Take the awareness with which you perceive daily life (when you watch TV, or your neighbors, or read the newspaper, or just observe things on a socially distanced walk) take that awareness and apply it to your spiritual life. Know when it is time to pray. Know when it is time to console a friend or neighbor. Know when it is time to meditate and keep silence. Know in your hunger for it, your love of the Eucharist. See and feel these things as you wait. It is Christ’s promise to gather us in, to redeem us, and to save us. And more than that, to gather in, redeem, and to save the outcast as well.

 

There is in the psalm for this morning, a passage that might make for a good prayer during this Advent – a prayer that you might say as you light the candles of your Advent Wreath. 

 

“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;

Show the light of our countenance, and we shall be saved.”

 

Finally, there is a prayer that I have shared with you before. It is one that I love, and that I think is perfect for us and for you in this time of difficulty. I hope you will use it in your private prayer and in the prayers of the people of Saint Mark’s Church:

 

Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

SDG

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Sermon for Thanksgiving Day, 26 November 2020

 





 


Preaching at 

Saint Mark’s Church

Thanksgiving Day

26 November 2020

 

“Who’s Invited?“

 

Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Psalm 65
II Corinthians 9:6-15
St. Luke 17:11-19

 

INI

 

Our custom at Thanksgiving, which we will not be able to do this year, is to travel to Texas, and there to join with family to visit, give thanks, and eat the joys of togetherness. The preciousness of being able to gather has come to a sharper focus in our time, a time when to travel, to gather, to embrace is not available to us. Yet we all shall attempt to keep the feast, to gather virtually, and to eat in solitude, but remember and give thanks in community.

The first reading from Deuteronomy minds us of the traditions of this day. When I was a child, the women of the altar guild of St. Peter’s Church in Monte Vista, Colorado, would gather sheaves of corn, pumpkins, gourds, autumn leaves, corn cobs, and decorate the altar for this day. It was a reminder of the abundance that God gives to the people. Like the people of Israel, the people of Monte Vista, and indeed ourselves, “were brought into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing…You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that (God) has given you.”[1] For the people of Monte Vista, however, one would have to add another precious fruit, the red McClure potato – the mainstay of this farming community’s economy. That is what comes to our mind when we think of thanksgiving – the abundance of good things that are available to us. The psalm for this day reminds us of this as well:


            “You crown the year with your goodness,

                        And your paths overflow with plenty.”[2]


Such is the tradition (and may I say, myth) of abundance in this country of ours. Abundance of food, of freedoms, of possibilities, of peace – we are taught and reminded to celebrate these things as Americans. As Christians, however, we need to be mindful of something else.


            In the Gospel for this day, the Evangelist Luke reminds us of something that is easily forgotten on this day: the uninvited. Luke clues us in to this in subtle ways as he tells the story of the ten lepers. Like many of us at Thanksgiving, Jesus was on a journey. It was not a journey home, however, but a journey to Jerusalem, where he would be called upon to face difficult things. In many respects, he himself was the uninvited, the outcast. Luke sets this story in “a region between Samaria and Galilee.” There is no such place in reality. Luke betrays his ignorance of the Palestinian countryside and regions, but also makes us keenly aware of not only a vision of the so-called Galilean backwater, but of the dismissal of the Samaritan people. He is met “at a distance”, (sound familiar?) by a band of lepers – and here we have another set of outcasts. They have a prayer of request, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” They appeal to the “Master” a Greek word which implies authority and power. In this strange land, amongst these outcast people, what will the outcast Jesus do?


            Who will not be coming to your Thanksgiving dinner? Well, lots of people, because we are celebrating in a difficult time. But let me ask the question again, and think back to last year, or look forward to the hopes for next year. Who will not be coming to your Thanksgiving dinner? As I think back on the thanksgivings that I have celebrated with others in the past it has been largely family and an occasional guest who have been invited to the dinner. The day, in our imaginations, is one of family unity, or at least the unity of friends. The second reading might give us something to think about at this point. Paul writes to the Corinthians:

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”[3]


The sowing we are invited to do, must be just that – indiscriminate, broadly cast, abundant! And here is where the outcast comes in, the uninvited. They must receive of our bounty, which is really God’s bounty. Jesus dispenses grace upon these ten lepers, one of which was a Samaritan, a double outcast.

            Hot Meals[4], and programs like it, it are so important. Here, however, (and in this I preach to myself as well), it needs to be more than institutions that grant these mercies, it is we as individuals who must grant them as well. I had a companion priest teach me a lesson once, while walking along Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. As we came up to someone begging on the street, he stopped, give his name, and asked theirs, and then after a brief conversation gave them some money for a meal. This happened several times as we proceeded along the avenue. Then, he stopped, but a bundle of small bills in my hand and said, “The next ones are yours.” In humility, I drank in the lesson – a hard one to learn, and even harder to do. In many respects my teacher was an outcast as well, for a variety of reasons – yet he did this. Jesus, the outcast, does it as well.


            When we are confronted with this story, we may be tempted to disdain the nine who do not give a proper thanksgiving to Jesus, who heals them. After all Jesus says no healing words, but just directs them to show themselves to the priest, as prescribed in the Law. One does come back, the Samaritan, and offers thanks, in which Jesus recognizes the Samaritan’s faith. What are we called upon to recognize in others, what faith, what needs, what healing? The remarkable words are, “Get up and go on your way.” Like Jesus, this leper is asked to continue the journey, as are we. 


            You have been invited to this feast, and yet you will not be able to eat or to drink. In this you will be like so many others who do not have the means to eat or to drink. We are, all of us nevertheless, bound to give thanks, to sow seed generously, and to recognize God’s works of mercy in our midst. The waters of Baptism, the words of Forgiveness, and the graces of the Eucharist are these works of mercy. In our Eucharistic Fast, forced on us by the pandemic, recognize in your hunger for the bread of life, the hunger of others, in your thirst for the cup of salvation, the thirsting of others. Listen to Paul as he quotes Psalms:

"He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;


his righteousness endures forever."[5]

 

May we like Jesus, the outcast who gathered in those who were outcast, gather in and feed those who hunger and thirst – feeding them with the bread of life, as well as the bread made for our survival. Thanks be to God!

 

SDG



[1]     Deuteronomy 8:7-10, New American Bible translation.

[2]     Psalm 65:12, Book of Common Prayer

[3]     II Corinthians 9:6f.

[4]     “Hot Meals” is a monthly feeding program at Saint Mark’s Church, which has continued during the pandemic.

[5]     Psalm 112:9

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sermon for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 28 15 November 2020

 



 

Preaching at Saint Mark's Church

The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost 

Proper 28

15 November 2020


"The Day of the Lord"


Zephaniah 1:7,12-18
Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

 

INI

 

It is an odd coincidence that today, ten years ago, I preached my first sermon at Saint Mark’s Church as I began a term as Interim Rector. So it is with a great deal of joy that I return at this same time to speak and learn with you as we look at the readings for this Sunday. I can recall in my sermon at that time that I mentioned to you that we are in what I call Advent Shadow. The original season which originated in Gaul and then later in Spain and northern Italy was six weeks. Later it was reduced to five, then down to the four weeks that we know now. Some of the readings, however, remained the same – mirroring a darker pensive time that anticipated the second coming of Jesus. So, let’s take some time, during this period of waiting (Pandemic, Election, etc.) during our own time to see what our waiting as Christians might be like.

 

The readings for this day all seem to revolve around the notion of the Day of the Lord. A few words about that, first: The popular thought about the Day of the Lord in ancient times anticipated God’s intervention in human history, most particularly national history in which God would bring victory over enemies. That idea should not be unfamiliar to us in this day and age when political rhetoric seems to be centered on this notion that God would send some kind of messiah to rescue us from our sin (and here you substitute in your favorite or most despised social ill). The ancient prophets, however, found it necessary to disabuse people of their popular thought on the Day of the Lord. The prophet Amos wrote, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light.” Isaiah has a similar warning, “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and they shall be brought low.” Here he anticipates Luke’s version of the beatitudes with is blessings and its curses, and in Mary’s song, the Magnificat, “he has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.” It was, I guess, a great reversal – a pause during which all could rethink their relationships with both God and neighbor.

 

Zephaniah, the author of our first reading has a stunning beginning to his poem on the Day of the Lord. “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand.” Whenever there is a liturgical direction to be silent for a time, a general nervousness sets in, for we are forced into our own thoughts and not the motions, thoughts, or words of others. We are bound to confront our own self. Zephaniah goes own, however, and does not see the hopeful richness of introspection. He suspects that there is something else that needs to be confronted. He thinks that the real thoughts of people are: “The Lord will not do good, nor will God do harm.” Zephaniah suspects an absence of God, at least in the hearts of people. I have often wondered in these days if there is indeed a great silence, a great absence of God. God, neither here nor there.

 

Why does Zephaniah envision such a day of darkness? He fears that Judah has not asked of God, has not sought from God, necessary spiritual gifts. Zephaniah pictures God searching for a faithful people. “I will search Jerusalem with lamps.” As I read the commentators on these oracles, many suspect that the thing that was keeping Judah from her relationship with God was her success, her abundance. Zephaniah warns them, “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them.” This is a good warning for our own time. Perhaps our waiting during this time of illness and political chaos should be directed at what we really need to ask of God. 

 

Which brings us to Paul and the Thessalonians. Paul wants his readers in the second lesson to forget about “the times and the seasons.” One can anticipate the coming of the Day of the Lord, but not know its particulars. It will come, as Paul says, “like a thief in the night.” Paul uses a wonderful light and darkness theme in his thoughts on the day of the Lord. He reminds the reader that they are children of the light, and therefore their waiting for the Day of the Lord needs to be informed by that notion. So, as we ask, like the Thessalonians, “What then shall we do?” we need to understand what is required of us as we wait, as we live life in expectation.

 

In last Sunday’s Gospel we read about the Virgins – those who prepared, and those who did not. The temptation here is to think badly of those who were ill prepared, and to lionize those that did. Paul takes a different tack as he looks at the question of how we ought to live during a period of waiting or expectation. Listen to this: “so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.” It seems to be a more forgiving attitude than what we experienced in the parable. It allows for periods when we are less aware, when we are not being vigilant. Nevertheless, Paul pleads with us to keep and to be watchful. Watchful for what? On one level we need to be watchful for ourselves, for our own personal experience of the Day of the Lord. However, if we follow the great commandment, honor God, neighbor, and self, then our watchfulness will include those around us and their needs. That was Zephaniah’s advice when he writes in the second chapter, “Seek justice, seek humility.” That is how we ought to wait – with others.

 

Finally, there is another aspect to the waiting that we are invited to do as we anticipate the Day of the Lord. In the Gospel we read the parable about the servants who are left behind as the landowner (God) goes on a journey and is absent from them. The landowner endows them with wealth which he expects them to put to work – enabling more wealth. Usually, we look at this parable and our final thoughts and focus are on the servant who buried his endowment in the soil because he knew that the landowner “was a harsh man, reaping where he did not sow, and gathering where he did not scatter seed.” It’s a rather harsh judgment, but it would obtain for a great number of wealthy people both then and now. I think we ought to turn our attention to something else that may be affecting our ability to wait for the great Day of the Lord. That aspect is the absence of the landowner. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking or feeling that God is at a great distance both then, and now. In the midst of pestilence, and national doubt I strain to hear God’s voice, or to know God’s presence. That attitude is made even more acute with the absence of the Eucharist, and the Assembly that gathers around it and is made real within it. There is absence, and there are gifts that we have been given. Here it is helpful to understand the talents that are invested with the remaining servants as gifts – not necessarily money, but talent, wisdom, opportunity and the like. I am reminded of the attitude of the people that Zephaniah is writing about, “The Lord will not do god nor will he do harm.” In other words, the silence of God, God’s absence tempts us to disregard God’s will and way. If God is not looking, then we can become lazy about how we use the gifts that are given. 

 

The wealth that we rejoice in is not our silver, gold, stocks, bonds, property, or investments. The gifts that are left to us are our redemption and salvation, and in addition to that, life itself. Psalm 90 has a lesson to teach us about all that God has given us and will continue to give us. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” How will we use our days and the wisdom that God gives us for our own benefit and that of our neighbor? If God is quiet in our time, how have we been God’s voice and good news? We are, all of us, friend and enemy, loved one and stranger, we all wait in this time. Shall we then wait upon the God who sent the Son to save us, and shall we then love our neighbors as they wait as well? Let our actions and living be evidence of the great Day of the Lord. And let us begin, as Zephaniah suggests, with a great silence – a silence in which the Word of the Lord might be heard.

 

SDG

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 11, 19 July 2020



“Seed”

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 11

19 July 2020

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley, California

 

 

Isaiah 44:6-8

Psalm 86:11-17

Romans 8:12-25

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 

INI

 

            There is something precious that we are learning in our time, perhaps not very patiently. What we are learning to do, what we have to do is to wait – patiently wait. Of course we have always been called upon to wait for various things, but to wait for our lives to return to what we have deemed as normal is a new demand, indeed, a new necessity. There are aspects to this waiting, for us as individuals, employees, family members and friends. There are aspects to this waiting that call us as Christians. In the readings for this morning, we have examples of what we are called to both be and do in this difficult time. Let us see what that might be.

 

            Do you remember, in school, when you were a kid – taking a Styrofoam cup, some potting soil, and a seed? We took the potting soil and gently laid it into the cup, placed the seed in the soil and then we watered it. It was at that point (and here we need to remember what time is like when you’re a kid) we waited. It seemed like an eternity, as the seed worked its genetic magic beneath the surface of the soil, sending out roots, and then final a finial of leaves. We waited upon the seed to form a plant. Such waiting brought joy and learning in our young lives, and, if we planted it, a tomato!

 

            In the Gospel for today, Jesus tells another parable with a sower. This one, however, is peculiar to Matthew. It is different than the parable of the sower we heard last week in which the seed was all good, and the different placements of the seed in various environments was the telling point. The seed was the word, and the environments were representative of where and how the seed (word) might be received. Matthew’s parable has a different import. Here is the distinctive clue, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom.” We are the seed; you are the seed. We are the ones who are to grow into something that gives evidence of the Kingdom of God.

 

            Jesus’ field, in this parable, is different in another way. It is not the difficulty of soil that frustrates the sower’s intent, but rather the fact that someone (an enemy) has sown darnel amongst the wheat seeds that the Son of Man has sown. Darnel is not just a weed. An ordinary weed wouldn’t be all that difficult in this situation. Darnel, however, looks just like the wheat. Would the one tending the garden wish to weed out the darnel, she would find that to be a very difficult task. Which one is darnel, which one is wheat?

 

            And here is our challenge, and it is unique in a way to Matthew. Let me explain. Matthew writes from a Levantine or Palestinian perspective. Mark wrote briefly and concisely to tell the story of Jesus. Luke wrote with an eye to the gentile and the Roman world of which he was a part. John had an eye for the mystery of the story, and a delivery informed by Greek philosophy and the Hebrew story. Matthew, however, saw the church gathered from some of the families of Palestine – families in which some of the members looked to Jesus as the Messiah, and some not seeing that same vision. It was a wheat and darnel situation. The question was, how do you operate in a world where everyone looks the same, but are at cross-purposes with one another. Does this sound familiar? 

 

            Jesus asks his followers to be patient – to live in a permanent Advent of waiting for the final plant to appear. In the parable, the harvest, which is held at “the end of days” (a truly eschatological harvest), would be the proof of the pudding. Angels sort out the weeds, the darnel, from the wheat, and destroy the weeds. We are, perhaps I really ought to say, I am, seeing a lot of darnel these days: People and churches and institutions that seem to have been sown with bad seed, and horrible intentions. It is a world of good and bad, and we are called upon to sort it out. Second Isaiah reminds us, in the first reading, of what is necessary. He pictures God as speaking out for God’s good intentions and desires: 

 

“Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,

Let them declare and set it forth before me.

Who has announced from of old the things to come?

Let them tell us what is yet to be.

Do not fear, or be afraid;

Have I not told you from of old and declared it?

You are my witness!

Is there any god besides me?

There is no other rock; I know not one.”

 

God is asking us to give witness to what we have seen and heard. In our own lives we have often been redeemed from bad situations; life circumstances and challenges that seemed to be obstacles to living. Isaiah asks Israel to remember the God who redeemed them from Egypt, and now he asks them to be seeds of witness and proclamation. 

 

            In our time, in this day and age, we are called to be good seed, witnesses, those who proclaim. God has redeemed this world, and yet there are those who claim to follow in Jesus’ footsteps who still see the redeeming God as one who hates, who condemns some to misery, who makes distinctions between those into whom God has blown the breath of life. If we are to announce anything, it is that this is wrong – that we live in a saved world, black, white, brown, native, immigrant, man, woman, rich, poor, sick, healthy, gay, straight – all saved, all loved of God. If this seems obvious to you, know that it is not obvious to everyone. We must patiently announce the good news over and over again. 

 

            Angels are coming to gather the harvest, to bring in the produce of the field. How might you be involved in the redeeming of our world and land? What are you called upon to patiently proclaim?

 

SDG

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross

In the Name of the Father + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.

We will glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In whom is our salvation, our life and resurrection.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The First Station – Jesus is condemned to death.


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin* kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two*came forwardwho stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.’” The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” But Jesus was silent.* Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed!* What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy;66what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!”

God did not spare God’s own Son:
But delivered the Son up for us all.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Second Station: Jesus takes up his Cross

















We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium* and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak* about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns,* they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him* and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all:
For the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Almighty God, whose beloved Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption: Give us courage to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Third Station: Jesus falls the first time

Note: the image and text display a metaphor of falling – here the seed cast on different soils.



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Surely he has borne our griefs:
And carried our sorrows.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Almighty God, whose beloved Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption: Give us courage to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Fourth Station: Jesus meets his afflicted mother.


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

To what can I compare you*—to what can I liken you—
O daughter Jerusalem?
What example can I give in order to comfort you,
virgin daughter Zion?
For your breach is vast as the sea;
who could heal you?

A sword will pierce your own soul also:
And fill your heart with bitter pain.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
O God, who willed that in the passion of your Son a sword of grief should pierce the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary his mother: Mercifully grant that your Church, having shared with her in his passion, may be made worthy to share in the joys of his resurrection; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Fifth Station: The Cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me:
Cannot be my disciple.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who , following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, the needy, and the ill; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, you Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Sixth Station: A woman wipes the face of Jesus



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

He grew up like a sapling before him, 
like a shoot from the parched earth;
He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
no beauty to draw us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem. 
Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God* and afflicted, 
But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed. 


Restore us, O Lord God of hosts:
Show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness form glory to glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.
Note: the image and text display a metaphor of falling – here the prayer in the garden



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,* and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,* and began to feel sorrow and distress.Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.* Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father,* if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

But as for me, I am a worm and no man:
Scorned by all and despised by the people.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
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; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?

Those who sowed with tears:
Will reap with songs of joy.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children’s children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time
Note: the image and text display a metaphor of falling – here the seed buried in the soil.



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.I am troubled* now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter
And like a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he opened not his mouth.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made and instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.* But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. After they had crucified him, they divided his garments* by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And they placed over his head the written charge* against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

They gave me gall to eat:
And when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Two revolutionaries* were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads40r and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, [and] come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel!* Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.’ He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.

They pierce my hands and my feet:
They stare and gloat over me.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of You; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.  Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.” But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.* The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Christ for us became obedient unto death
Even death on a cross.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; who lives and reigns now and for ever. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Thirteenth Station: The body of Jesus is removed from the Cross.



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus.He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.

Her tears run down he cheeks:
And she has none to comfort her.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen.

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb.



We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen60and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

You will not abandon me to the grave:
Nor let your holy One see corruption.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
O God, your blessed Son was laid in a tomb in a garden, and rested on the Sabbath day: Grant that we who have been buried with him in the waters of baptism may find our perfect rest in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

Holy God, 
Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

Concluding Prayers:

Savior of the world, by your cross and precious blood you have redeemed us:
Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord.

Let us pray.
There is silence for a time, then:
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 for ever. Amen.

To Christ our Lord who loves us, and washed us in his own blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


All images are copyright © 2013, Michael T. Hiller