Look for the Wounds and the Victory

Luke 24 [35] Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. [36] As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

 

In a sermon preached by Sister Veronica Aryeequaye, OSH, on March 28, 2008, she recounts the following:

 

“My nephew who was in the military told us that when he was enrolling into the Navy, he was given a physical medical examination. He said that the guy in front of him was asked if he had any scars or identifying marks on his body. He answered, “No.” The medic at the table, with much surprise, said, “Boy, everybody has some scars or other identifying marks. You better tell me yours or I’ll have to take you outside and give you some!” Suddenly the guy remembered a scar or two he had.

The medic was right, of course. It seems that everyone has a scar or two and a story to tell about them. Some scars are visible and some not so much visible. The more invisible the scar is, the more painful memories they bring, and their stories, so bitter to recall. Some of the stories are great and some simply teach us lessons about life. I have two visible scars and the one I see everyday reminds me of some hard things about my life. I know you have yours too …”1

 

Jesus, raised from the dead, appears to the disciples as they listen to the report of His appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples are not sure it’s Jesus. Perhaps it’s a ghost. Our Lord offers His glorified scars as evidence of His real presence. St. Jerome, the great Biblical scholar of the ancient church comments: “As he showed them real hands and a real side, he really ate with his disciples; really walked with Cleophas; conversed with men with a real tongue; really reclined at supper; with real hands took bread, blessed and broke it, and was offering it to them… Do not put the power of the Lord on the level with the tricks of magicians, so that he may appear to have been what he was not, and may be thought to have eaten without teeth, walked without feet, broken bread without hands, spoken without a tongue, and showed a side which had no ribs.” (From a Letter to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem 34, 5th century)

There is, we are led to conclude, in God’s economy, some essential connection being shown us between our faith in the risen Christ Jesus and the scars being borne by the same Christ Jesus. Jesus accomplished the work of glorifying the Father in both His death and resurrection. The sign of His victory, mysteriously enough, is testified in and through His scars. The Christ of Easter isn’t “scarless”. He bears the marks of His death on Good Friday. Being raised from the dead did not erase His scars. It did something else to the scars. The scars are glorified!! They become glowing scars of glory.

The scars of His humiliating death are used by the Father to do two things. First, they unite His death with His resurrection. Secondly, the scars become the sign to disciples in all ages of the victory of His self-emptying love. Our Lord Jesus Christ was confidently known to His disciples by the display of His glorified scars. See especially the story of Thomas – John 20.24-28. Thomas recognized him as risen only by seeing and touching(?) his scars. Not only the astonishing triumph of the Father, in His Son’s great victory over death and defeat, but His victorious presence are, displayed in scars of the Son.

What sign, therefore, can we look for by which we might have the same confidence that the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ is present in our midst with the same power to transform our lives and He transformed the lives of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and the eleven apostles and myriads of other believers whose names are recorded in the New Testament?

 

There are a number of signs by which the Lord makes his presence known. It is important to be trained up in the knowledge of the “signs of His presence”. Among the signs is that of the appearance of His glorified scars.

 

The Lord Jesus took upon Himself the suffering of this fallen world and everyone in it (see the suffering servant song in Isaiah 53). His scars are His redemptive identification with every form of wounding, scaring, suffering, futility, and decay. There is no wound that Christ by His choice has not made His own. If we are to seek and serve the risen and glorified Christ in our life and the lives of all persons and circumstances, then let us look for the scars of suffering in their lives. This is where the scared hands, feet, and side of the Lord to be found and therefore the Lord. This is a form of “stigmata” if you will – a bearing of the wounds of Christ in and through our woundedness of life faithfully submitted to Him for redemption and the testimony of His victory.

 

The Lord invites and commands us to look for Him in the places He chooses to be found. Where are those “who travail and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11.28f)? He is there carrying the burden. Where are those in “need of a physician” because of their spiritual sickness(Mark 2.17)? He is there. Where are the naked, sick, prisoner, hungry, thirsty, and the stranger (Matthew 25.31ff)? He is there bearing the scars of their woundedness.

 

Sister Veronica reminds us:

 

“There is something about scars that seems to make a person “very human”. We are sometimes apprehensive about people who seem to be “too perfect”; about children who grow up with only soft knees, about teenagers who don’t show any signs of acne, about models whose hair is perfect the moment they step out of the surf, about people who are in their “twilight years” and who have no signs of graying hair or wrinkling faces. There is something about our scars that make us real, believable, and trustworthy. Maybe it is because we know that life hands out its damaging blows to all people of all ages, of all backgrounds.”2

 

We know that the intersection between God the Father and ourselves is the incarnate Son of God, Jesus the Christ. The supreme point of identification is His crucifixion. The scars of Christ in His risen body speak of the place in our lives where that re-union of God and man is most powerfully possible. It is in our scarred humanity that Christ Jesus is most present to seek and to save.

 

We, who look for the scars in the midst of circumstances and the lives of others out of faith with hearts that yearn for the revelation of the risen Lord will, in the midst of difficult circumstances and broken lives, find the Lord manifesting Himself to us in and through all those scars. By this, the disciple experiences the presence of the risen Lord at work. We, as that disciple, in experiencing the presence of the risen scarred Jesus, have hearts that are comforted and strengthened by the knowledge that all the seemingly unredeemable circumstance or tragic life into which the Lord has placed us are in fact redeemed.

 

But the Lord desires more. The account of the scared risen Jesus concludes with a commandment to be witnesses of Him to others. The Lord desires for all who behold Him in His scared risen glory in the midst of the wounds of people and scared circumstances to be His witnesses according to the Holy Spirit’s instruction (Luke 24.47-48). Our Lord desires for all to know that those scared circumstances and people are redeemed in Him. The redemption of woundedness does not depend on the bearer of the scars choosing for their scars to be redeemed. It only depends on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of the believing disciple present in the circumstance appropriately witnessing to Christ’s redemption of the woundedness. That is enough. The Lord takes care of the rest.

 

Therefore, if we find the wounds, we, by faith, will find the risen and glorified Christ powerfully present “in all His redeeming work” (collect for the 3rd Sunday of Easter in the BCP). We will also find an opportunity to witness, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance to the victorious character of those wounds when submitted to the scared risen Christ.

 

Now, I am sure, that you can give plenty of examples of this dynamic from your own life and your involvement in the lives of others. But, if you cannot, then take some time to be alone or talk with a trusted brother of sister in the Lord and endeavor to see this wonderful dynamic at work.

 

Paul was willing to testify to the union between Christ Jesus’ scars and his own. He said, “…For I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”  (Galatians 6:17) Let us join Paul and enter into the adventure of seeking and serving the victorious Christ in the wounds we find within ourselves and all around us as He calls us to do so.

 

Let us pray…

 

Collect of the Third Sunday of Easter

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. Amen.3

 

Collect for Morning Prayer of Wednesday in Easter Week

Lord Jesus Christ, you revealed to Your disciples the mystery of Your risen and glorified humanity. Grant us the eyes of faith to seek and serve You present in the lives of all persons and in so doing to truly seek and serve all persons, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.4

 

Fr. Thomas Brindley

 

1)      http://www.osh.org/aboutus/vero_2easterB.html

2)      Ibid

3)      Book of Common Prayer, pg. 224

4)      Magnificat, April 2009, pg. 158

 

4-18-09

The Divine Liturgy — The Way/Shape and Dynamic of Life in Christ Jesus

This post is a work in progress. It will be updated from time to time as I collect material and receive inspiration. So, with the following disclaimer I begin to offer it.

“This is my meager limited, not even close to finished or complete, temporal reflection on an abundant limitless, accomplished and ever being accomplished, eternal mystery. Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Grant me, by Your grace O Christ my Lord, to offer nothing that is at variance with You, and to share in Your Divine Life.”

1.       It is CRUCIAL for the celebrant or presiding officer to know the dynamics of the Liturgy so she/he can minister “in spirit and in truth” for the salvation of the people and the world. It is not acceptable, if I may be so bold, for the celebrant to be uninformed and therefore unprepared to minister the Mystery. Paul warns us of the harm we can do if and when we minister the power of God without understanding and perception … We, first and foremost and beyond all, must be convinced of the nature, workings, and power of the Divine Liturgy even if no one else present is… We are accountable.

2.       Form and Content – means of our salvation and icon of LIFE

a.       Incarnation

                                                              i.      Spirit “material-izes” thereby fulfilling the created purpose of the material world – “… and it was so”

                                                            ii.      Matter “spiritual-izes” thereby fulfilling the created purpose of the realm of the spirit – “the heavens declare the glory of God…”

b.      Pentecost as continuation of incarnation (bringing forward in fulfillment all that has been begun) “…Jesus began to do”

c.       Likeness of Christ

                                                              i.      Form – Shape of Christ  in every aspect

                                                            ii.      Content – Filled to overflowing with Holy Spirit (Christ Jesus, in whom the Spirit dwells, dwells in you)

d.      Sacred time, sacred space and things, sacred people

e.      God portrayed “as He is”

                                                              i.      Transcendent – unapproachable and unknowable – “dwelling in light inaccessible from before time and forever”

                                                            ii.      Immanent – approachable and knowable – “the Word became flesh and dewlt among us” and “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…”

                                                          iii.      The Liturgy is a participation/communion in both aspects of God

3.       Divine Liturgy as icon or type

a.       Liturgy is a snapshot of the Christian life

                                                              i.      Constituent parts in relationship with each other

                                                            ii.      Liturgy is teacher

b.      Liturgy is opportunity to receive the reality it teaches – we are nourished and changed – conformed into the likeness of Christ to a greater degree in a lived way

c.       Revelation and offering – Real thing right now not merely symbolic of something real at another time in some other realm

                                                              i.      Contemplation – Belonging

                                                            ii.      Incarnation – Believing

                                                          iii.      Mission – Becoming

4.       Divine Liturgy as journey vs. event

a.       Event – static reality that exists independent

b.      Journey – continuum

                                                              i.      Meaning

                                                            ii.      Direction

                                                          iii.      Transformation

                                                           iv.      Maturation

1.       Seasonality

2.       Transition

c.       Beginning – middle – end

d.      Present ongoing

                                                              i.      Reference the past and future in the context of the present

                                                            ii.      Reference the future in the context of the present

                                                          iii.      The past and the future have their right influence in this priority structure

                                                           iv.      It is in the present only that we experience reality

e.      Pilgrimage

                                                              i.      Journey of transformation

                                                            ii.      Leaving with the intention to never return

1.       Can’t go back if we are transformed

2.       The “back” no longer exists as it was because we have matured even though it may appear to be the same (place, people, occupations, etc.)

                                                          iii.      Always forward into newness fulfilling that which has gone before

5.       Eleven aspects of Jesus praying in and through the disciple depicted in the Liturgy

a.       Adoration           I love you

b.      Praise                   I celebrate you

c.       Thanksgiving     Thank you / Gratitude

d.      Penitence           I am sorry / Confession / Repentance / Lamentation

e.      Oblation              I am yours / I give myself unreservedly

f.        Intercession       Help someone else

g.       Petition                               Help me

h.      Listening             I am actively seeking your voice – word and direction

i.        Contemplation I am at rest and receptive

j.        Consecration     Set aside / used to display God’s grace – Kingdom reality consummated

k.       Blessing               Benediction / Deposit of God’s favor

6.       Constituent parts of the liturgy

a.       Gathering

                                                              i.      We do not gather by our own initiative – we do not invite the Lord into our presence

                                                            ii.      We are gathered by the Holy Spirit – we are invited into the Lord’s presence – it is in His presence that ALL WILL OCCUR

1.       we are beloved and belong

2.       we can care for others in the same way (“love one another as I have loved you” / “you shall love the Lord … and your neighbor”)

3.       we are taught

4.       we are healed (saved)

5.       we are nourished

6.       we are sent out

                                                          iii.      “There am I in the midst of them” – The closer we are drawn near to Christ, the closer we come to each other

b.      Preparation

                                                              i.      Intentionality

                                                            ii.      Enliven a spirit of remembrance

c.       Declaration – behold, I am the Lord (“I saw the Lord and He was high and lifted up” Isaiah 6)

                                                              i.      Proclamation of the identity of God – The Trinitarian Mystery (“Who do you say that I am?”)

                                                            ii.      He is the One who has drawn us to this place at this time

d.      Confession – realization of conflict between “God’s true truth” and “my/our false truth”

                                                              i.      Proclamation of the identity of the gathered ones – our identity (“And I say you are…”)

                                                            ii.      Statement of agreement that expresses our heart of agreement – personal and communal (who I am and who we are is essentially connected)

                                                          iii.      Healed

                                                           iv.      Restored

                                                             v.      Forgiven

                                                           vi.      Freed

e.      Intercession/petition – cry out in trust; pour out self in trust

                                                              i.      Give to others (give to others before we get for ourselves)

                                                            ii.      Pour out our lives on behalf of the other first in prayer and later in service

                                                          iii.      Enter into the perfect intercessory ministry of Christ at the throne of the Father by the power of Holy Spirit – the prayer of Jesus becomes our prayer by His invitation

                                                           iv.      “Watch and pray with me”

f.        Voiced-word of God

                                                              i.      God spoke, speaks, will speak

1.       Dynamic voice of God that integrates past, present, and future in the truth that is intended to be lived reality

2.       God desires us to hear

a.       Involves preparedness – await it

b.      Involves responsiveness – act on it

                                                            ii.      Lectionary based

1.       Independent of my bias

2.       Balanced in content

3.       Seasonal – reflective of the life and ministry of Jesus (participation in His LIFE)

a.       Prophesied coming

b.      Nativity – embodiment

c.       Childhood maturation – He grew

d.      Baptism/Theophany

e.      Ministry

f.        Passion/Crucifixion

g.       Resurrection

h.      Resurrected teaching

i.        Ascension

j.        Pentecost

k.       Ongoing ministry in and through the Body of Christ

l.        Second coming

4.       Participation in His LIFE

                                                          iii.      Regular diet

1.       Old Testament

2.       Psalm

3.       Epistle

4.       Gospel

                                                           iv.      Lectio Divina

1.       Lectio

2.       Meditatio

3.       Oratio

4.       Contemplatio

g.       The Peace

                                                              i.      The kiss of peace as a salutation of salvation we receive from the Lord and are challenged to offer in a lived way toward each other

1.       “Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Luke 24.35)

2.       After his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and greeted them, saying: “Peace be with you!” Peace is what this saving salutation truly is since the word “salutation” derives from the word for “salvation”. What more could one hope for? Man receives greetings of salvation in person, for our salvation is Christ. (St. Augustine, Sermon 116)

                                                            ii.      Peace sharing requires the work of reconciliation

1.       “So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5.23-24)

2.       Contrast the kiss of peace which we accomplish as we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus with our mouths and the kiss of betrayal offered by Judas

                                                          iii.      Approaching and receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus outside the parameters of peace is powerfully destructive

1.       “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (1 Corinthians 11.27-30)

                                                           iv.      We are not worthy to approach the Father’s altar except in Christ Jesus with the knowledge that we desire the consummation of our perfection in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. The important thing is the condition and direction of our heart. What is the direction of my heart – toward reconciliation and conformity to Christ or away from it?

h.      Preparation of the table/altar

                                                              i.      Present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord which is your spiritual worship – for the life of the world (like Christ in Christ)

                                                            ii.      The world is collected and presented to God for redemption

                                                          iii.      The gifts of the people become the gifts of God

                                                           iv.      The which is offered Mysteriously (divinely) becomes more than is offered and is received (and ultimately offered to the world by those who receive)

i.        Anaphora – see also handout “The Anaphora”

                                                              i.      Offering back to the Father what we have received from the Father to receive it again as redeemed in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                                            ii.      Addressed to the Father – “author” of our salvation

                                                          iii.      Jesus mediates – “means and end” of our salvation

1.       The necessity and transformative power of participation in the life of Jesus (birth, baptism, temptation, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, coming again)

2.       Took

3.       Blessed

4.       Broke

5.       Gave

                                                           iv.      Holy Spirit achieves – the “finisher” of our salvation

                                                             v.      Human cooperation essential

1.       Union of divine intention/will and human intention/will

2.       Union of divine action and human action

                                                           vi.      The material universe achieves its created goal (this bread is become My Body and this wine is become My Blood) in the hands of the Divine/Human person – Christ Jesus

j.        Communion

                                                              i.      Effective communication

                                                            ii.      Effective transformation

1.       What happens to the bread and the wine happens to us in the offering and the receiving

                                                          iii.      With the Lord

                                                           iv.      With one another through the Lord

                                                             v.      Revelation of the interwoven character of human reality – personal and communal – we are truly members one of another

                                                           vi.      We temporally and eternally become what (Who) we eat

k.       Thanksgiving

                                                              i.      The power of the interdependent working of gratitude, humility, and perseverance

l.        Blessing

                                                              i.      Consecration of the people to continue in the world that which is accomplished here

                                                            ii.      The people are the Body of Christ / ministry of Christ in the world

m.    Dismissal – Sent Out

                                                              i.      Apostolic calling

                                                            ii.      We do not go where we will – we go where and when we are sent

                                                          iii.      It’s not over until God says its over

                                                           iv.      Apostolos

                                                             v.      Commission passages

1.       Sheep in the midst of wolves but stay sheep (don’t become a wolf)

2.       Serpents and doves

                                                           vi.      Dispersal – divided and shared and yet never broken or lessened

4-16-09

 

 

 

“On the night that he was betrayed …”

What was Jesus’ characteristic response to being treated badly, suffering injustice, being misunderstood, rejected, and betrayed?

 

1 Corinthians 11 [23] For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, [24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” [25] In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

 

John 13 [33] Little children… [34] A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. [35] By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

What is my characteristic response to being treated badly, suffering injustice, being misunderstood, rejected and betrayed?

 

Matthew 5 [43] “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

 

Often I lash out… Why do I lash out?

·         I am overwhelmed

·         At that moment I do not trust God enough to resist defending and providing for myself

·         I believe I need/must defend myself and guarantee that the truth of the matter is know and administered

·         I do not seriously believe that spiritual warfare is taking place. The devil seeks to thwart the purpose of God in my life and I am not in the moment vigilant regarding the atmosphere spiritual warfare in which I and those in the circumstance are living

 

Psalm 43 [1] Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from deceitful and unjust men deliver me!

 

James 4 [1] What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? [2] You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war

 

1 Peter 5 [8] Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.

 

What can I do?

·         Repent – acknowledge the truth I know and ask for the appropriate truth I do not know, acknowledge my helplessness in the face of the power of the hurt

·         Believe and depend – press into the truth, allow God to persuade me regarding His practical faithfulness, surrender to God’s power available to strengthen me inwardly and act through me outwardly. I can do nothing apart from Christ Jesus. I is not I who live but Christ Jesus in and through me by the Holy Spirit

·         Stay accountable – the devil loves solo Christians; I can easily be isolated, drawn into self-defense and self-provision when I go it alone; I need to stay in fellowship with others through the circumstance

·         Obey

o   Let the Holy Spirit educate me and keep me watchful – the devil’s strategies work best on me when I am uninformed and slumbering

o   Let God love me inwardly and love through me outwardly – do good to and pray for my relationship with those who have hurt me

 

Ephesians 4 [22] Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, [23] and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness…. [27] … and give no opportunity to the devil… [29] Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. [30] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [31] Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, [32] and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Romans 12 [9] Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; [10] love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor… [14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. [16] Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. [17] Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

 

James 4 [1] What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? [2] You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war… [7] Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. [9] Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. [11] Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. [12] There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?

 

What is the shape of my life if I persevere in the desire to be one with Christ in this way?

·         The Father is glorified

·         I bear much fruit that lasts

·         The world can know I am a disciple of Christ Jesus

·         The joy of Christ lives in me, and my joy is full

 

** Credit: I am indebted to pastor Art Greco,  head pastor of Marin Covenant Church, for the basic idea for this sermon. Thanks Art !!