Sat, 25 April 2020
(Acts 2:14,22-33; Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11; 1Pt.1:17-21; Lk.24:13-35)
“God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.”
Peter stands up “with the Eleven” and proclaims to all the Resurrection of the Christ, that He who was crucified has been released “from the throes of death.” David “foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was He abandoned to the netherworld nor did His flesh see corruption.” The women who went to His empty tomb early Easter morning saw “a vision of angels who announced that He was alive”; this they declared to His apostles. And as for the two sojourning to Emmaus, “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread,” whereupon they “returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, ‘The Lord has been raised and has appeared to Simon!’” All reports converge. The earth cries out of the presence of the living God. He is risen!
“As you see and hear,” you who “invoke as Father Him who judges impartially,” “exalted at the right hand of God, [Jesus] received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured Him forth.” This truth is evident in all the words of Scripture, in all His holy witnesses, and in this bread and wine made the Body and Blood of our Lord. Do you not see? Do you not hear? Do you not know that “you were ransomed from your futile conduct… with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb”? Is it not you “who through Him believe in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory”? Is it not so that “your faith and hope are in God”? Do you not see? Do you not hear? Do you not know Him even as these witnesses? And do you witness with them?
Let us cry out with the words of our psalm, “O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot,” even as we approach His altar today. As we receive Him, let our eyes be opened to recognize His presence. Our hearts should burn as He speaks to us and with His witnesses “open[s] the Scriptures to us,” and in His breaking of the bread we should see Him. And then we should go forth, inspired as Peter, inspired as the women, inspired as the two disciples and all those gathered in His name, to proclaim that He is risen, that He is with us – that we see Him and know Him. Let all hear and understand that “He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time” for the sake of all. Yes, “the Lord has truly been raised.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (second part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, truly has your Son been raised from the dead,
and we with Him.
YHWH, open our eyes and ears to see and hear of your glory, of the resurrection of your divine Son. In the Scriptures and in the breaking of the Bread, in the preaching of your apostles let us come to believe in you and in your presence here among us even this day. How slow of heart we are to believe! Open our hearts and minds to your Word.
The Christ shall not know death and its corruption; He shall rise from the grave. This is declared to us by your prophets and kings, and is realized by all of faith. And our souls, too, shall not be abandoned to the nether world, if we but believe in Him whom you have sent, if we but live in the Spirit He pours upon us. O LORD, let us abound in joy forever in your presence.
Walk with us, O God, and speak to us along the way. Reveal your presence in the Sacrament of the altar. You are our portion and cup. In hope of your glory we dwell this day.
Fri, 24 April 2020
(1Pt.5:5-14; Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17; Mk.16:15-20)
“Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”
Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God. And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!” For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.”
“The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today. The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.” Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God. “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth. And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower.
And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them. Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe. Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him. “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.” The verse is true, my friends. And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name. The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear. Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission.
O LORD, though we suffer for His Name,
your Son is with us all the day,
and we walk in the light of His countenance.
YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ. May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved. Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand.
There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood. But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us. For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time. May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process.
To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness. Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.
Sat, 18 April 2020
(Acts 2:42-47; Ps.118:1-4,13-15,22-24; 1Pt.1:3-9; Jn.20:19-31)
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Jesus comes to the disciples, repeatedly appearing to them after His Resurrection, to make certain there is absolutely no doubt in them: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” He invites them even to put their fingers in His hands and their hands into His side. To Thomas He speaks, yes, but them all He teaches. For He is commissioning them to go forth in His name in word and sacrament to bring forth life to souls who are dying, to preach the salvation from sin by His resurrection from the dead. “Peace be with you,” He says to His Twelve. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And so He breathes on them the Holy Spirit, giving them power even to forgive men’s sins. Now, those to whom they shall proclaim that God “in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” will not have had the benefit of seeing the Lord. And so, how can one expect them to believe just by the word of another if the speaker of that word is not completely convinced of its truth? Their witness, their commitment, must extend even to the grave – as it shall – if it is to go beyond the grave.
And the strength of the apostles’ witness and the fruit it has borne – which, in turn, becomes a faithful witness unto others – is greatly evident in our reading from Acts. Here we are told the first disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Sharing all in common, their lives were centered on daily prayer and the Eucharistic meal, the feast of thanksgiving. And “with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people,” they lived their lives in truth, they lived their lives in faith. What Peter ascribes to the disciples of Christ we find in these: “Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now… you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” How effective his and the other apostles’ witness has been.
Brothers and sisters, “His mercy endures forever.” The apostles’ words reach down to us this day and the sacraments of their hands are still in our midst. And so “the joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” we too should know. We too should sing, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.” Though the Church has been made to suffer persecution and been dispersed to the ends of the earth, this is but to bring the Word forth, and through all suffering to make it perfect within us. For ultimately the kingdom is not in this place; heaven we cannot completely see. Only faith will lead us to the Lord’s risen presence.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (first part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us make our home in
the nail marks of your hands and the wound in your side
that we might rise to new life.
YHWH, how great is your mercy toward us! How great the wonders that come upon us through your Son, our Lord. For He reveals your ineffable presence to us, taking from us all hardness of heart come from doubt and sin that our eyes might be opened to your glory, that we might enter into your joy.
He has been rejected that we might be accepted. His hands and feet and side have been pierced and He has died that we might rise with Him from the grave. All our sin He would take from us, and so He leaves this power with His apostles and with the descendents of His apostles, who, though they have not seen Him yet have His Spirit breathing upon them to accomplish His merciful will in our midst, to reveal your merciful love to us, O LORD and God.
O let us fall at His feet! Let us proclaim His divinity. Let us join as one in prayer and in the breaking of the Bread in His Name. O LORD, let us be your blessed disciples and so know your salvation of our souls. Alleluia!
Wed, 1 April 2020
(Gn.17:3-9; Ps.105:4-9; Jn.8:51-59)
“Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
Abraham is a great man, the blessed patriarch, to whom God made the promise: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” So Abraham becomes “the father of a host of nations,” not just by lineage, but by faith in the promise God has given him and the keeping of the covenant with Him. Abraham is father to all who believe in the one God: the sons of Israel, the Jews; the sons of Ishmael, the Muslims; and all who worship the living Lord and “seek to serve Him constantly.”
Yet as great as Abraham is, as fertile as he has become, Jesus is the greater and the more prosperous, for He Himself is the Lord our God, from whom Abraham receives his promise and so his greatness. “Abraham rejoiced that he might see [Jesus’] day. He saw it and was glad.” For here come to us is the only Son of the God before whom he “prostrated himself”; here is the Lord of all the nations of whom Abraham is father.
Jesus is equal with the Father, coeternal and all-powerful. He does not make Himself so but receives such glory from the Father, with whom He is always. How hard it is for the Jews to hear this. Though according to their faith they have been waiting for just such arrival of the Holy One, of the Messiah, yet their hearts are unable to accept such divine wonder. And so “they picked up rocks to throw at Jesus” upon His solemn declaration of His divinity.
Is it not just so hard for all of us who call ourselves believers to come to terms with the awesome majesty of Jesus our God? It seems something so far beyond our belief, that God could walk in our midst. And yet HE IS; and so we must see how much greater than any man He is. For though fully a man born in time and murdered upon a cross, yet He is God, living forever as Lord of all. So great a gift, so wonderful a presence, is all that assures us that we “shall never see death” but be as He is, alive in the kingdom as He has promised. Keep His word, and the Word of Life will be with you.
O LORD, a greater than Abraham we have in your Son,
for He is God with you –
let us live forever in Him.
YHWH, your Son is God with you, dear Father, the great I AM; and He would bring us where you are, to a life that passes not away. How could we die if we were with you? For you are Life itself, and your Son with you.
Abraham is the father of many nations; many lives came to be through him and all of faith find a father in him who was of the greatest faith. But you are the Father of Abraham, dear LORD, and Jesus is your Son – and so Jesus Himself is as Abraham’s Father, coming before him and giving life to him as He does.
O may He give us life, too, Father on high. In your Name let Him speak to us of your surpassing glory, a glory He shares with you and which He would share with us (as He has shared it with Abraham) if we would but listen and believe. Be our God forever, LORD, as you promised Abraham.