Daily Archives: April 22, 2011

Failure, Rejection, and Ineffectualness

[Shusaku] Endo locates the point of contact between Japanese life and the Gospel in what he observes, and has experienced personally, to be the essence of Japanese religious awareness. This he sees as the sense of failure in life and the subsequent shame and guilt that leave a lasting impact upon a person’s life. Such theological notions as love, grace, trust, and truth are intelligible only in the experience of their opposites. Endo sees them incarnate in the person of Jesus through his own experience of failure, rejection, and, most of all, ineffectualness. Only rarely has modern Christianity presented the story of Jesus as the one to whom those who had failed, were rejected, lonely, and alienated could turn and find understanding and compassion. Endo argues that it is our universal human experience of failure in life that provides us with an understanding of Christian faith in its depth.

–Fumitaka Matsuoka, The Christology of Shusaku Endo, Theology Today (October 1982) [emphasis mine]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Japan, Theology

Of Which Wood Shall we Eat this day?

The ancient and saintly fathers and theologians have contrasted the living wood with dead and have allegorized that contrast this way: From the living wood came sin and death; from the dead wood, righteousness and life. They conclude: do not eat from that living tree, or you will die, but eat of the dead tree; otherwise you will remain in death.

You do indeed desire to eat and enjoy [the fruit] of some tree. I will direct you to a tree so full you can never eat it bare. But just as it was difficult to stay away from that living tree, so it is difficult to enjoy eating from the dead tree. The first was the image of life, delight, and goodness, while the other is the image of death, suffering and sorrow because one tree is living, the other dead. There is in man’s heart the deeply rooted desire to seek life where there is certain death and to flee from death where one has the sure source of life.

–Martin Luther, “That a Christian Should Bear his Cross With Patience,” 1530

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

How shall I measure out thy bloud?

O My chief good,
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?

Then let each houre
Of my whole life one grief devoure;
That thy distresse through all may runne,
And be my sunne.

Or rather let
My severall sinnes their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sinne may so.

Since bloud is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloudie fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sinne:

That when sinne spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sinne may say,
No room for me, and flie away.

Sinne being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sinne take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

And Another Good Friday Prayer

O holy and adorable Redeemer, by whose condemnation we are acquitted, by whose stripes we are healed, by whose death we have life, by whose cross we gain our crown: Keep us, we beseech thee, ever mindful of thy boundless love; and when thou dost call on us to bear for a while thy cross, like Simon of old, make us to rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for thy sake, and accept our feeble sacrifice, through the merits of thine eternal redemption.

–W. E. Scudamore (Rector of Ditchingham and Fellow of Saint John’s College, Cambridge)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Still Another Good Friday Prayer

O God, the Father of mankind, who didst suffer thine only Son to be set forth as a spectacle despised, derided, and scornfully arrayed, yet in his humiliation to reveal his majesty: Draw us, we beseech thee, both to behold the Man and to worship the King, immortal, eternal, world without end. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

All generations shall lament and bewail themselves more than him

St. Bernard was so terror-stricken by Christ’s sufferings that he said: I imagined I was secure and I knew nothing of the eternal judgment passed upon me in heaven, until I saw the eternal Son of God took mercy upon me, stepped forward and offered himself on my behalf in the same judgment. Ah, it does not become me still to play and remain secure when such earnestness is behind those sufferings. Hence he commanded the women: “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Lk 23, 28; and gives in the 31st verse the reason: “For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” As if to say: Learn from my martyrdom what you have merited and how you should be rewarded. For here it is true that a little dog was slain in order to terrorize a big one. Likewise the prophet also said: “All generations shall lament and bewail themselves more than him”; it is not said they shall lament him, but themselves rather than him. Likewise were also the apostles terror-stricken in Acts 2, 37, as mentioned before, so that they said to the apostles: “0, brethren, what shall we do?” So the church also sings: I will diligently meditate thereon, and thus my soul in me will exhaust itself.

”“Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

(AP) Christian pilgrims fill Jerusalem for Good Friday

The calendars of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches coincide this year, so the sects are marking the holy week together. Jews are also celebrating the Passover festival.

Herman Backhaus, from Munster, Germany, says being in Jerusalem reminds him that Jesus “actually lived, and his message didn’t die with him on the cross.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Israel, Middle East

Richard John Neuhaus on Good Friday

Through Mary he received his humanity, and in receiving his humanity received humanity itself. Which is to say, through Mary he received us. In response to the angel’s strange announcement, Mary said yes. But only God knew that it would end up here at Golgotha, that it had to end up here. For here, in darkness and in death, were to be found the prodigal children who had said no, the prodigal children whom Jesus came to take home to the Father.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

For I the Lord have slain

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!

A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may’st live.”

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill’d!

–John Newton (1725-1807)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.

Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

”“John Donne (1572-1631)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

Another Prayer for Good Friday

O Lamb of God, who hast taken away the sin of the world: Look upon us and have mercy upon us, we beseech thee; and grant that those whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood may evermore be defended by thy love and power; who now livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Good Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, who for the redemption of mankind didst ascend the cross, that thou mightest enlighten the world that lay in darkness: gather us this day with all they faithful to that same holy cross; that, gazing in penitence upon thy great sacrifice for us, we may be loosed from all our sins, and entering into the mystery of thy passion, be crucified to the vain pomp and power of this passing world; and finding our glory in the cross alone, we may attain at last thy everlasting glory, where thou, the lamb that once was slain, reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

–Genesis 22:6-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

O Lord Christ, who in the days of thy flesh didst hallow bread and wine to be a perpetual memorial of thy passion, and a never-failing means of fellowship with thee: Make us so to thirst after thy righteousness that through these holy mysteries we may be filled with all the fullness of thy divine life, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; for thy glory’s sake.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Saint Peter

St. Peter once: ”˜Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’””
Much more I say: Lord, dost thou stand and knock
At my closed heart more rugged than a rock,
Bolted and barred, for thy soft touch unmeet,
Nor garnished nor in any wise made sweet?
Owls roost within and dancing satyrs mock.
Lord, I have heard the crowing of the cock
And have not wept: ah, Lord, though knowest it,
Yet still I hear thee knocking, still I hear:
”˜Open to me, look on me eye to eye,
That I may wring thy heart and make it whole;
And teach thee love because I hold thee dear
And sup with thee in gladness soul with soul,
And sup with thee in glory by and by.’

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature