Holy Week: A Mere Seven Days That Changed The World

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Holy Week: a mere seven days the changed the world and remains at the heart and soul of what all Christians hold so sacred and dear.

Palm Sunday is a celebration, a joyous occasion. Jesus is home to Jerusalem and everyone gathers to catch a glimpse of this carpenter’s son, this miracle worker. Capes and palm branches are thrown to the ground in a show of respect and reverence. Jesus rides into town upon a donkey in a show of humility. This sight certainly made people think. People questioned is this truly “the one” who is to be our leader? There is no chariot or team of stallions leading him in. What kind of king is He? Doubt enters their minds. The enthusiasm and exuberance begins to wane.

The joyfulness turns to bitterness and pain. Agony and sorrow defeat and wipe away any remnant of happiness. His closest friends abandon and deny Him. Seven days after Jesus’ triumphant entry in to the city, He undergoes a most Passionate of times and ultimately surrenders, giving over His body to human death.

How can a people change their attitude so quickly? What was it that changed their feelings? Who was it that altered their thinking? What polluted their hearts? What infected their minds? Was it mere human folly, ignorance or fear? Did the people want some one with more strength, more authority, some one much more outspoken and defiant? Or was it simply Scripture being fulfilled?

My sisters and brothers, this week is truly a celebration for in this week we celebrate our salvation. It is in the death of Jesus that we are born to eternal life. His sacrifice brings us the joys of Paradise, for us and for all God’s people.

Let us in earnest prayer be mindful of the immense gifts that we receive. Let us be ever aware that Jesus, our most Holy Redeemer, though he died in human terms, never left us, never abandoned us and never leaves our side. Jesus remains our closest and most loving friend. Is this not reason for celebration? Is this not a cause for rejoicing?

My prayers and blessings are with each and every one of my St. Nicholas community members: I pray that we lay bear our hearts to feel something of Jesus’ suffering. I pray our minds are open to comprehend the totality of this historical encounter, when heaven and earth co-mingled is such a miraculous manner in order to afford us the gift of a life more glorious.

Celebrate and let us keep our eyes fixed on the prize that awaits us.

Let us all celebrate a most blessed and joyful Holy Week.

Let us all celebrate a most blessed and joyful Easter.

God keep, strengthen and sustain us, one and all.

Amen.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Vicar’s Corner: One Amazing And Uplifting Gathering

To reiterate something I wrote last week: ‘no one really likes having to attend a meeting.’ Then again, last Sunday’s St. Nicholas Annual All-Parish Meeting was not your “run-of-the-mill” meeting. Absolutely not. What we had was one amazing and uplifting gathering. When all was said and done and the closing prayer was said, truthfully, I hated to see everyone leave. There is a comfort, a sense of belonging when we’re gathered together; as a community, as a family of believers. What a joy it is for me to have this divine opportunity to serve such a church and such a wonderful community.

So much was accomplished in a relatively short period of time. We elected our new members to the Bishop’s Committee. Two delegates and two alternates to the 2015 Diocesan Convention have been elected. We discussed the updates to our church and what is yet to come. Finances were talked about, openly and with full transparency. We talked about where we want our church to be, what we envision for our house of worship and our dreams of what could well come to be. There was a lengthy conversation about our desire to become a “parish,” to drop the term “mission” from our title. There are both pros and cons to this move. However, there seems to be a rather strong and healthy head of steam for us to pursue this very matter. We will move carefully, judiciously and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As members were sharing their thoughts and concerns, I took some liberty and looked out at the many faces that filled the Hall. Certainly, I was paying attention to what was being said, be assured of that. However, looking out at this, my parish family, I felt such an overwhelming sense of pride, of happiness and a love that is so rare and special.

My friends, we did ourselves proud. We accomplished much, we focused our attention to the work that was before us, we ate our fill and we left the Hall in probably better condition than when we started. Truly in good ol’ St. Nicholas style and fashion, we did it right and we did it our way!

To everyone…you are forever in my prayers and always in my heart.

Blessings to one and all, and a million times over…thank you.

Amen.

-Manny

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Vicar’s Corner: The World Waits

It is a pure joy and honor to be gifted the opportunity to experience the culture and beauty of another country. I had been to Mexico once before and fell in love with the people, the atmosphere and the absolute wonders of the countryside. The rainbow of colors of the plants and flowers; it’s almost too much. As if God and nature just lost control and threw it all out there without any rhyme or reason but only to see just how many colors they could create. Such vibrancy; it would be understandable were someone to say it is overwhelming. I have to admit; I was beginning to believe that our cold, upper Midwestern winters had somehow muted my sense of sight, (could it be that I’m simply getting older?) These colors are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Then again, in time and due season, I shall savor our spring flowers and take in the beauty and bold, blood red of a blooming rose or the bursts of purple, orange and yellow of a climbing clematis. And I will gaze at our St. Nicholas gardens come late summer and early autumn and marvel at the beauty of the mums and the awesome display of hues and shades and I’ll swear I’ve not seen colors such as these.

Yes: all things in due time and all things have a season. As a Church, we remain in the season of Advent. We are about to enter the fourth and final week of this holy season. This weekend we light the last of our four candles. The entire wreath will glow and the feast of the Nativity will be that much closer. This glorious and joyful scene will be played out in every church that has an Advent wreath, in every house of worship that is waiting, anticipating and expecting the joyful news. Regardless where we are; whether in the warmth of Mexico or in the chill of the Midwest, we celebrate what is just, right and good and we do so with excitement and joy.

Perhaps it is because of my Michigan upbringing that Christmas, cold and snow are synonymous. They are supposed to go together, right? Not so in the tropic: for snow there is the sand that blows at will and the cold is the ice that gently slides down the frosted glasses. Still, we — the good people in Mexico, the good people in the north and all Christians the world over — await the birth of the Lord. We anticipate with excitement and glee the bells that will ring to herald the New Born King.

I read recently a quote of the Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, something that seemed rather well-timed and which I’d like to share with you now: “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” Ah yes, to recall the beauty of such as a rose in the bleak, cold midwinter truly gives our hearts and souls pause for joy and peace.

Yes, the world waits. Whether in the cold of the north or the balmy breezes of the south, we all await the birth of Jesus. To celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ entry into our world just as we have been celebrating for over 2000 years. All things in due time and in their season.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150