Transfiguration Sunday; then... Shrove Tuesday Pancakes, andAsh Wednesday Ashes; Thursday Bible Study during Lent
March 2, 2019
"The Last Sunday after the Epiphany" may be the Prayer Book's name for this Sunday, but our Gospel reading is always about the revelation, i.e. the epiphany, that happened when Jesus was transfigured in front of Peter, James and John on the mountaintop. This amazing vision, came complete with special effects: "Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.'"(Luke 9:33) And with this final revelation, our season of epiphanies will conclude, and we will be set up for the journey to Jerusalem, to the Cross and Tomb.
To help celebrate the brightness of Sunday's celebration, the Altar Guild has brought out all of our white and gold hangings; and the Choir will be joined by a Youth String Trio for the Offertory Anthem, "O splendor of God's holy bright," by Monteverdi. Reminder to self: Bring a clean handkerchief!
This is also the last Sunday (until Easter) when the word "Alleluia" will be in our vocabulary. Our Sunday School children have prepared an "Alleluia Banner" that they will carry into the 10a.m. service at the Peace. After singing, their "Alleluia Song," they will invite us to join them in song, and then the banner will disappear! Only the children will know the banner's whereabouts.
To get ready for that journey, we have two special observances during the coming week:
As I write this message, the Weather Service has issued another "Winter Storm Watch" for Sunday afternoon through Monday morning. But right now, the sun is shining, the Green is white with (melting) snow, and the streets and sidewalks around the Green are all bare. So, my advice is to take advantage of Sunday morning as an opportunity to get out for worship, fellowship and formation before the next storm arrives!
The forecasts also offer hope that Bible Study will meet on Thursday morning, March 7. Because of our policy to not meet if Guilford Public School classes are cancelled or delayed due to the weather, we have missed three(!) gatherings; and my winter break led to the cancellation of another two gatherings. The upshot is that there is a lot of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians that we have not discussed. A consensus quickly developed for us to pick up again where we left off, with I Corinthians 13, Paul's "Hymn to Love." All are welcome to join the conversation in the Rectory, Thursday mornings at 9:30a.m.
I look forward to saying "Farewell to Alleluia" with you this Sunday, enjoying pancakes on Tuesday, and then heading towards Jerusalem with you in the days that follow.
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. Last Sunday's Rectory Forum conversation about Presiding Bishop Curry's recollection of non-violent resistance to Jim Crow laws -- in the sermon we discussed from his book, The Power of Love -- brought in Jesus' recommendation of non-violent resistance to Imperial Rome in last Sunday's Gospel reading, i.e. "turn the other cheek." In the midst of this conversation, the question was posed, "What about Pearl Harbor? Were we supposed to turn the other cheek to that?" Those are excellent questions.
Although Jesus never recommends war, he did acknowledge the reality of warfare (e.g. Luke 14:31-32 about a king considering war against another king). The Church has long wrestled with this reality; St. Augustine wrote about wise conduct for a "Just War." His term became the basis for what is called, "Just War Theory." The basic conditions for Just War include: Last Resort -- all other means of resolving the conflict have been exhausted; Just Purpose -- the restoration of a just peace; Just Means -- proportional use of force, without intentional violence against prisoners and non-combatants; Likelihood of a just conclusion -- force sufficient to bring about the end to the violence; and Just Authority -- justly constituted government. In Just War Theory, all five criteria are necessary for a "Just War." By these criteria, I think most moral theologians conclude that the U.S. entry into WWII was justified by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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