"This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe.
But Easter isn't cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever."
Queen Elizabeth II April 11,2020)
2,000 years ago Jesus walked the earth, so He knew what it was like to be us. He also knew what it would cost Him to save us… and yet He chose to do it anyway. Today, we celebrate His power over death. Because He lives, so can we!
The Holy Week & Easter Sunday
April 5 – April 11, 2020 - Year A
During Holy Week, Christians recall the events leading up to Jesus’ death by crucifixion and, according to their faith, his Resurrection. The week includes five days of special significance.
Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ humble entry (on a donkey) into Jerusalem to observe Passover. According to the Gospel account, he was greeted by crowds of people who spread their cloaks and laid palm leaves in his path and proclaimed him the Son of David (Matthew 21:5). In many Christian churches Palm Sunday is celebrated with a blessing and procession of palms.
Maundy Thursday marks Jesus’ institution at the Last Supper, thereafter a central element of Christian worship. Now we can say, with a much louder voice, "It is right to give God thanks and praise!" Now, when we remember and celebrate how he loved us, servant hood and ministry for others. Now, when we open our hands to receive his body and blood, we can feel, with great devotion, the power of this gift and the meaning of its mission.
Good Friday commemorates Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. Jesus Christ was betrayed and abandoned, yet from the cross he asked God to forgive us. Know that no matter what you have been or what you are now, forgiveness is offered to you this day in Christ Jesus. Accept this forgiveness and share it with others for his sake.
"From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'" (Matthew 27:45-46)
On Good Friday, Jesus breathed his final breath. Prior to this heartbreaking event, He quoted and fulfilled Psalm 22:1. Though Jesus had previously known only unbroken divine fellowship from all eternity, He experienced the horrible abandonment of his Father as God poured out his wrath on his Son as he bore the sins of the world. "But Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many." (Matthew 27:50-53) At that moment, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). This refers to the veil separating the holy place from the most holy place (see Exodus 26:33). Since the curtain was torn from top to bottom, clearly God did the tearing. In an instant, full access to God's holy presence, through Jesus Christ, was granted. No further sacrifices were necessary. Truly, as Jesus declared, "It is finished." (John 19:30) (Tony Evans Bible Commentary)
Holy Saturday, also called Easter Vigil, is the traditional end of Lent.
Easter Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection, according to the Gospels, on the third day after his crucifixion. (https://www.britannica.com/story/holy-week)
No matter what you’re facing today, Jesus’ resurrection means evil doesn’t win — because Jesus is Risen. Have a blessed Easter!
The High Priestly Prayer
“Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17)
Prayer of the Faithful
For all the families of Church, gathered around Christ in their homes to be nourished by prayer, the Scriptures and Spiritual Communion; and for the sufferings of all people.
Lord, have mercy.
For all ministers, elders and leaders, called to serve their people with love and humility as they open the Scriptures; and for those who minister among young people and the sick.
Lord, have mercy.
For the suffering people of our world, for the gift of peace and hope for refugees in war situations, and for religious freedom and persecuted Christians.
Lord, have mercy.
For healing for the sick, strength for families, courage for care givers, and for the Spirit's wisdom for leaders and medical teams making decisions for the common good in this time of the pandemic.
Lord, have mercy.
For an environment in families that will nurture the call of God, for the spiritual and physical well-being of all parishioners and for those facing pain and agony.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, thank you for loving us more than life itself.
God, life is hard and uncertain. So much pain, hurt, and heartache seems to surround us. And yet, knowing this, you still willingly gave up your life and became God with us and God who rescues us.
Because of Your sacrifice, we can spend eternity with You. There is no pain You cannot conquer, no hurt You cannot heal, and no life You cannot transform. Your death and resurrection proved that nothing is impossible for You, and that we are more than conquerors because of You.
Today and every day, help us to fix our hearts and our minds on You. And as we do, please give us more of Your joy, hope, and peace. We love You, and we want to worship You. Amen!
The Fifth Week of Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent - March 29, 2020 - Year A
This week is filled with drama. We continue to prepare ourselves to be open to God's graces. We continue to try to choose Lent, to act Lent, in very concrete ways. We are examining our patterns and realigning our priorities. Our hearts are being renewed, as we experience God's reconciling love and beg for the gift of healing.
All this is wonderfully supported by the drama of the daily liturgies. We begin with the raising of Lazarus(John 11:1-54). During the week, we have powerful stories about the healing image lifted up in the desert (Numbers 21:1-9), the three faithful witnesses who survive the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-30), the account of God's covenant with Abram (Genesis 22:1-19), Jeremiah's fearful trust in the midst of the plot against him (Jeremiah 42:1-22; 431-7), and Ezekiel's incredible vision of restoration of the nation - that God will make a new and everlasting covenant. (Ezekiel 37:1-28)
Each of these readings is matched with a gospel from John. We hear about witnesses and testimony and judgment, about his being lifted up (on the cross and in glory), about the freedom/liberation he has come to bring, about himself as the fulfillment of God's covenant, the new and everlasting covenant. And, we can feel the opposition rising against him. And we grow in devotion, and grace, as we realize that it is all “for me.” (https://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/fifthweek.html)
"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So, the sisters sent word to Jesus,“Lord, the one you love is sick.” hen he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So, then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him. Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So, they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (Gospel of John, Ch. 11)
PRAYER for our world
God, You alone are worthy of honor, glory and praise. With You, we can overcome every storm – including the global impact COVID-19 is having on our world.
Right now, we are asking You to:
Heal those who are sick and protect those who are not.
Give our leaders extra wisdom as they navigate this pandemic
and economic uncertainty.
Strengthen Your global Church. Reveal to us how we can partner together to reach the needs of those around us.
Calm our fears. Fill us with Your hope, joy, and peace as we continue to trust in You. Use this pandemic to pave the way for spiritual renewal.
We want Your glory, power, and healing to be on display. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen! (https://web-assets.youversion.com/html-email/2020-03-prayer-of-the-day-world/2020-03-prayer-of-the-day-world-en.html)
With this week, we begin the second part of Lent. We ask more and more deeply to be with and like Jesus. We desire to celebrate the approaching mystery of our salvation with greater freedom and greater joy.
Each day's gospel will now be from the Gospel according to John. We can't avoid the feeling of being in a court room for a grand trial. There are "witnesses" and "testimony." It is a battle between the forces of Darkness and the Light. The opposition to Jesus mounts. It is inevitable that he will be killed. But we know that the ultimate Judgment in the trial is against Sin and Death. We grow in gratitude and grace as we experience more deeply that this is all "for me."
The Fourth Week of Lent
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” Then He spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So, the man went and washed and came back seeing! The Jewish leaders for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this “What did He do?” they asked. “How did He heal you?” “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see! He healed my eyes.” We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, He couldn’t have done it.” When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man answered, “Who is He, sir? I want to believe in Him.” “You have seen Him,” Jesus said, “and He is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said; and He worshiped Jesus. (Gospel of John, Ch. 9)
Almighty and faithful God, graciously look upon your Church, O God, which you have enlightened with the Christian faith and anointed with the oil of gladness. By the power of your Holy Spirit, open our eyes and deepen our faith that we may confess our faith in Jesus, the Lord and the Light of the world, who lives and reigns forever and ever. All authority is Yours, but You have given authority to leaders to protect and guide us. Today, we ask that You would give all our leaders wisdom, discernment, strength, and resolve. Keep them healthy, safe, and rested so that they can continue to guide us through this troubling time.
Give our government leaders wisdom about what needs to be done to stop the virus and stabilize our economy.
Give our spiritual leaders Your discernment on how to meet people’s needs as they continue to glorify Your name and encourage the Church.
Give our medical leaders insight into how to stop the virus. Strengthen their resolve and honor their hard work in creating a treatment for COVID-19.
Give our civic leaders inspiration, courage, joy, and strength to meet the needs of their communities.
Help us, as leaders in our communities, to display courage, hope, generosity, and kindness. Would the way we honor others inspire those around us.
Shield those who are weak, heal those who are sick and keep my family, friends and loved ones safe. Please watch over them always, and let good health, happiness, and blessings befall them. Protect and bless them while they go about their day and let no harm come to them.
Comfort those around us who are mourning, touch them with your healing hand and give them the comfort, strength and peace they need to get through.
Through Your Word and breath of life take away the spirit of sickness, fear and anxiety but fill us with strength and help us to rely on Your power and faithfulness.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen!