Easter 3 C John 21:1-19 and Acts 9:1-20 Giradian Commentary

On the surface these two events seem completely different: they don’t occur in the same texts, and one happens at the very beginning, the other at the end of the crucial period of Christianity’s infancy. Their circumstances are very different. The two men are very different. But the profound meaning of the two experiences is nonetheless exactly the same. What the two converts become capable of seeing, thanks to their conversions, is the violent social instinct, the adherence to the will of the crowd, which neither knew possessed him. This is the violent contagion that compels us all to participate in the Crucifixion.

Just after his third denial Peter hears a rooster crow, and he remembers what Jesus predicted. Only then does he discover the crowd phenomenon in which he has participated. He proudly believed he was immunized against all unfaithfulness to Jesus. All through the Gospel accounts Peter is the ignorant instrument of scandals that manipulate him without his knowledge. In speaking to the Jerusalem crowd some days after the Resurrection, he stresses the ignorance of those possessed by violent contagion. He speaks from personal knowledge.

In the Gospel of Luke, just at the crucial moment, Jesus too is in the courtyard, and the two — Jesus and Peter — exchange a look that pierces the disciple’s heart. The question that Peter reads in this look, “Why do you persecute me?” Paul will hear as well from Jesus’ own mouth: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” In response to Paul’s question “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus answers, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” Christian conversion is always this question that Christ himself asks. Because of the simple fact that we live in a world whose structure is based on mimetic processes and victim mechanisms, from which we all profit without knowing it, we are all accessories to the Crucifixion, persecutors of Christ.  

Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.

John 20:19-31 Another Empty Tomb Easter 2C

ImageHis work finished, Jesus rested on the Sabbath. The next day, Sunday, he rose from the grave with an even greater determination than the one that drove him to Jerusalem and the cross. He entered the new week determined that the disciples and through them the whole world would know the peace of forgiveness.

The first Adam tarnished the first week. Through the resurrection, the last Adam brought about a new week. In our passage Jesus stands in the midst of the disciples calling them from death to life, from the old week into the new. As he did at creation he breathes the Spirit into new men and commissions them to tend and fill his creation.

Their denials, scattering, fear, and isolation are types of death. The locked upper room is a sealed grave. Jesus harrows this hell. He preaches peace to its inhabitants. His forgiveness brings them into the resurrection. His breath recreates and recommissions them as new gardeners in a recreated garden.

At Pentecost they’ll leave the upper room making it another empty tomb.

 

A Girardian Take on Retaining and Loosing Sins. Easter 2 C John 20:19-31

“From our sacrificial point of view, we read this as a stern God who says, ‘You get to go out there and decide who’s going to go to hell and who’s not.’ Rather, the part about retaining sins is an urging to the disciples to get out there and get busy forgiving people’s sins, because if they don’t do it, it won’t get done. Unless people experience forgiveness from them, they won’t be forgiven. If they don’t experience forgiveness at the hands of the Jesus’ disciples, then they will go on generating the kinds of rituals by which they will feel expiated. It’s not some pious thing that says, ‘Ah, you’re O.K.’ It’s tremendously dynamic – and hard to pull off. People today will pay hundreds of dollars an hour trying to be forgiven.”

Gil Bailie, “The Gospel of John” audio tape series, Tape #12.

A Girardian take on Retaining and Loosing: Easter 2C John 20:19-31

“From our sacrificial point of view, we read this as a stern God who says, ‘You get to go out there and decide who’s going to go to hell and who’s not.’ Rather, the part about retaining sins is an urging to the disciples to get out there and get busy forgiving people’s sins, because if they don’t do it, it won’t get done. Unless people experience forgiveness from them, they won’t be forgiven. If they don’t experience forgiveness at the hands of the Jesus’ disciples, then they will go on generating the kinds of rituals by which they will feel expiated. It’s not some pious thing that says, ‘Ah, you’re O.K.’ It’s tremendously dynamic – and hard to pull off. People today will pay hundreds of dollars an hour trying to be forgiven.”

Gil Bailie, “The Gospel of John” audio tape series, Tape #12.

Sermon Notes: Epiphany 3, Year C Jesus Fills a Marriage With Wine

Rough notes:

It is significant that Jesus’ first miracle occurs at a wedding and that the action is to supply the wedding with wine. It is no random setting. Before we look at the specifics of Jesus’ action it would do us well to look at the setting. Jesus’ first miracle blesses a wedding, supplies that wedding with wine, and makes all to stand up and rejoice.

The wedding service of the Book of Common Prayer uses this passage as means of showing the importance of the institution to Jesus. As we heard in the passage from Isaiah, the Bridegroom has come to claim his bride. Jesus is the husband of the new Israel, the Church. He rejoices over her. Marriage here and elsewhere is shown to be the primary metaphor for Jesus with the Church. Continue reading

Sermon Notes: Epiphany 1 Year C

If it isn’t planned it will not occur. What we don’t set out to mark we will not celebrate. The Church calendar is like the memorial stones Israel set beside the river. It begs a question. For some it may only be an oddly placed pile of rocks, a mound for children to climb or hide behind. But, for others it’s a point of curiosity. “Dad, why are those rocks there.” “Because, years ago the Lord our God answered his promise to give his people this land. God held back the river and our ancestors walked across the dry river bed. They set up those stones as a memorial so that we would always remember the work of God.” “Mom, what is Epiphany?” “Well, many years ago God answered his promises and sent his Son Jesus to be king over all the earth, Epiphany is a Greek word meaning manifestation or appearance. So, Epiphany is the day when we celebrate the gift of Jesus to the nations of the world.” Continue reading

Prayers Epiphany 1 Year C

Invocation

Almighty God, as you called kings from the East to declare the glories of your Son, send now the Spirit and call us into your presence that as they we may worship you, give gifts to our King, and return to our homes filling the earth with your praise, in the name of Jesus, your only begotten Son, our Lord. Amen.

Illumination

Heavenly Father, may the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart be pleasing unto you and used by the Holy Spirit to lead your people to know and worship Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Offertory

All merciful Father, following your word and our fathers of old, as an act of worship and love, we lay before you these gifts – bread, wine, tithes and offerings – that you would be praised and your glories known, world without end. Amen.

Advent 3 C Sermon Exerpts

Advent 3C Expectation

It is what we say of mothers-to-be. She expectant. She expects beauty and sweetness. She expects some pain and difficulty. She and all her family and friends expect great blessing.

Advent is a time of expectation. As we sober up, think clearly about the gospel and life, we expect some pain and difficulty, but as we grow we come to expect good things. We prepare the way of the Lord, making his paths level and straight, the horizon comes into view and though we do not yet see it clearly we do see the future as a rising sun.

This was the reaction of the crowds to the the Advent messages of John the Baptist. They moved from despair to expectancy. Vs. 15 tells us that the people were in expectation, and all were questioning whether or not John was the Messiah. Continue reading

Lift up your heads

More on yesterday’s sermon, though there are ups and downs during our present, ebbs and flows throughout history, the command is “lift up your heads.” We are justified by faith. We have peace with God. Rather than being curmudgeons and Scrooges, tired of the world, embittered by sin, we are to rejoice in all things. This is Christian character. We stand. We endure. We hope. Chesterton wrote, “Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering but in being weary of joy.” Do not grow weary. Do not call evil good and good evil. Look to the good that God has done and is doing. Rejoice for He who began the good work will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.