Showing posts from 2017

The Road to Emmaus

This painting shows a depiction of the Disciples walking with Jeus on the Road to Emmaus.  I find it interesting the symbols in the painting...subtle reminders of  The Cross, the hand resting on the invisible shoulder of Jesus, and more.  They stand to remind us that God is with us, even when we do not recognize His Presence.  We'll talk about that next Sunday at worship.


Antonio Ciseri's painting of Jesus in the tomb with his followers and his mother. At about 3:00 PM, Jesus let our a loud cry and died. Joseph of Aramithea permits the body to be interred in a prepared tomb in his garden. For his goodness, Joseph will be hounded out of Jerusalem and he will move to England.


GOOD FRIDAY. Early in the morning, Jesus is condemned to death by crucifixion. His disciple who betrayed him, Judas, hangs himself. At approximately 9:00 AM, Jesus is condemned. Jesus is brought to Pilate, who tries to avoid his death by using a custom to have one of two prisoners freed and the other punished. Pilate asks the people to choose between Jesus and a criminal who has committed awful crimes: Barabbas. The people of Jerusalem choose to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Pilate relents to the custom, although he states that he "finds no fault" in Jesus. Jesus, who has been whipped and is wearing a crown of thorns, is paraded through the streets carrying his cross. The route through which he is taken (The Via Dolorosa) leads to Golgotha, the "place of the skull," where hi is crucified at about noon. By 3:00 PM, Jesus is dead. By 6:00 PM, Jesus body is interred in a tomb in the garden of Joseph of Aramithea, who later flees Jerusalem to England to escape pe


This is the day when tragedy strikes. Jesus goes into Jerusalem to eat The Passover Meal with his disciples.  They are directed by Jesus to an upper room where they prepare the meal. When the hour is come, Jesus ends the meal with the breaking of bread and sharing of wine, which prefaces the Christian Church's practice of The Eucharist, or Holy Communion.  All the disciple share, but Judas, who Jesus sends away after he takes the bread.  The Gospel of John tells us that, "When Judas had taken the morsel of bread, he went out, and it was night." So, The Scriptures tell us that the meal lasted until dark.  "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out."  Judas has already gone, and we know it is night: both physically and spiritually; it was night. While praying in The Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is arrested after being betrayed by Judas.  He is then taken before the Sanhedrin where he is abused and questioned all night.  They are trying to prove he is bl


Wednesday of Holy week: the Bible is silent. I am reminded of the marvelous novel SILENCE , by Shusaku Endo: a story from the 1600's in which a Catholic Priest, Fr. Rodriguez, is imprisoned in Medieveal Japan.  His crime: claiming Christ.  The thing which will allow his release: to deny Christ by trampling on an icon of Jesus; which, in the end, he does after years of crying out to Jesus to speak to him and tell him what to do, but Jesus is silent.  Only after he curses Jesus, does Jesus speak to him and let him know that Jesus' mission is to bear our betrayals and sins.  The silence of Jesus finally leads him to understanding and to faith. Mother Teresa's confessional letters to her confessor are collected in a little book called Come Be My Ligh t.  Pope John Paul II allowed these letters to be published so people would know how much Mother suffered from the Silence of God. St. John of The Cross titled these dark moments when God is silent: when God seems remote,   


On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus travelled from Bethany to Jerusalem where he has more confrontations with the priests. Following that, he and his disciples go the The Mount of Olives, where Jesus talks with the crowd and teaches them.  On the way there, he is hungry and stops at a fig tree to get some figs.  The tree is barren, and he curses it, and it withers.  He compares the fig tree to people who are barren of spiritual fruits in their lives.  The example of the fig tree reminds us that we are called to bear the fruit of our spiritual life in terms of how we influence the world about us.  We are called to bear fruit. While Jesus is teaching, darkness is encroaching.  Judas leaves the disciples and goes to the priests and Sanhedrin and negotiates to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Followin his teaching at The Mount of Olives, Jesus returns to Bethany where he will stay all night, and all Wednesday, so far as we know.


Well, it's five twenty on the Monday of Holy Week.  By this time on that day, Jesus had already entered Jerusalem on a donkey, with palm branches being waved and people shouting "Hosanna."  At the end of the parade, he was confronted by the Priests and Pharisees and Saducees who questioned his authority.  He told them he would reveal the source of his authority if they would answer one question: did John's authority come from man or God.  Knowing that, if they said "man," John's disciples who followed Jesus would probably kill them, and that if they said "God" it would reveal their complicity in having John killed as blasphemy and they would be killed; they chose silence.  Jesus then refused to answer their question. Shortly after that, he went into the temple and dealt with the money changers rather harshly.  This was a blow to the temple rulers, for it was a prime source of their lavish incomes and lifestyles.  They firm up their intention

Saturday Night before Palm/Passion Sunday

Saturday night before Palm/Passion Sunday leaves me in a quandary: do I try and preach a typical sermon on Palm Sunday, or do something different.  I've probably read dozens of sermons on Palm Sunday this week and the week before...but none of them spoke to me... By "speaking to me" I mean that none of them did anything special for me...none of them touched me in the way I wanted them to.  There were all sorts of approaches to the day and week, but none of them made me want to stand up and say "Eureka"  "I have found it." So, I've decided to approach the week from two dimensions: the historical and the theological.  I'll be talking about the events and how they have shaped the teachings and practices of The Church over the last two thousand years. I hope you'll join us for this Sunday We may just find ourselves on a cobblestone street in an ancient city shouting "Hosanna."

Saturday Night

Saturday Night... A time when ministers go over their sermons, pray for those in their congregations who are in need, and prepare spiritually for the worship service on Sunday. This Sunday Dr. Juan Quintanilla and I will preach dialogically on the Creedal section in which we proclaim " I believe in The Church Universal." It has been years since I reached a dialogue sermon, and I'm looking forward to it.  Having a fellow preacher who is also a seminary professor is also a great incentive. So, I'm prayerfully anticipating this experience.  It is also my prayer that someone will be touched by what is presented, and that God's Holy Spirit will guide our worship.


After much trepidation, the ACA (Obamacare) debacle is over for a time.  The AHCA (Trumpcare) did not pass, and the ACA remains the system in place in our nation. Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts took the conservatives backing the AHCA to task and simply used scripture as the basis of his argument.  He noted that we are, according to Scripture, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, care for the hurting, and more.  He gives a powerful witness in his belief that we are all our brothers' keeper. In 2012, while working on a sermon, I found a quotation from Margaret Meade's works.  A student asked her what was the first archaeological sign of civilization.  Meade remarked, "A healed femur."  A broken leg means the person can't walk without assistance, must be cared for, must be fed and kept warm...a broken leg that has healed is the sign of civilization: for Meade's belief was that civilization only came when humans practiced kindness. When the dust i

Two A.M...Night Prayers

Writing prayers in the night... When the stom is just past And the air is growing cool With an oncoming change... For the Better? Better for those who suffer, Better for the old, The poor, The hungry child, The fearful immigrant The longing heart? There is a longing upon the world... A longing for truth (Jesus often said: "I Tell You the Truth), A cry for justice: ("And Justice shall roll down like the waters") A cry for peace: ("And He shall be called The Prince of Peace") A cry for a New Day When all of us will be brothers and sisters, Every child will eat and be filled, Every person will be valued No matter their station, wealth, age, color, sexual identification, Or religion... Oh, Lord, In a time of great cruelty, I'm praying in the night. 3/22/2017  CR

Time Change Sunday

We had a great message from Dr. Juan Quintanilla today on "I Believe in Jesus Christ..."  Juan's understanding of Jesus as servant was truly touching, as he relived his journey toward his own acceptance of his personal mission of discipleship as one of servanthood. I was truly impressed to see how many of our members were present on the Sunday we all basically hate: time change when we lose an hour of time by "springing forward" one hour.  You have to get to church an hour earlier, and we all are sleepy.  For me, it takes about two weeks for my body to get used to the time change. It was a great service, even though we were all a bit sleepy. Next Sunday, I'll be preaching on "I Believe in the Holy Spirit."  We'll talk about spirits, ghosts, and The Holy Spirit.  I'll introduce you to my Grandmother's love of ghosts and ghost stories.  We'll talk about rabbit's feet, buckeyes, and other good luck charms from my childhood.  
This morning I finished the novel: The Muralist ; by B.A. Shapiro. It is the story of a young Jewish artist, Alizée Benoit, whose family is caught in the clutches of the Nazis in France, where all her family dies at the hands of The Third Reich. The story is woven into the development of American Expressionistic painting of the time, and it is also woven into the shameful influence of Breckinridge Long, the State Department official in charge of U.S. visas. Long, an extreme nativist, manipulated U.S. State Department rules to stop Jewish refugees from Europe from getting visas to the U.S. The deaths of some 190,000 European Jews is attributed to Long's hateful blocking of visas for refugees. In light of Trump's blocking refugees entrance into the U.S., the book is a timely reminder that certain ancient evils circle back upon humanity again-and-again.  

I believe in Jesus Christ

Next Sunday we will hear a message on our belief in Jesus Christ.  Dr. Juan Quintanilla will be preaching for us.  To prepare for his message, I would love for us all to begin thinking of exactly why we believe in Christ, and also, what we believe about Jesus. Lent is a time for reflection.  We are using this Lenten season to talk about what we believe.  We began this Sunday with the words: "We believe in God the Father..." Next Sunday, we examine the words:                     "We believe in Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord...                     God made flesh in a person for all humanity,                     God made flesh in an age for all the ages,                     God made flesh in one culture for all cultures,                     God made flesh in love and grace for all creation." I hope you will read those words, ponder them in your hearts, and pray about them.  That way, when Juan preaches next Sunday, your own study and prayer will enrich his

This Sunday

March 4, 2017 This Sunday we'll begin our series of studies/sermons on what we believe.  We'll be using The Hispanic Creed from the United Methodist Hymnal, Mil Voces.  This week, we begin with the statement: We believe in God, The Father Almighty                                                  Creator of the heavens and the earth;                                                  Creator of all peoples and all cultures;                                                  Creator of all tongues and races. The question we'll be facing is: "Do you actually know what you believe, and why you believe, and how you act out that belief in the world." We'll hear that marvelous song:  "All Creation Worships You" by Tony Melendez.  We'll also experience Richard Strauss' magnificent work: "Thus Spake Zaranthusra." Come and join us for the experience. Curtis