and the lot fell on Matthias… Acts 1:15-26 Although not among the original twelve, after much prayer and consideration, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas. The remaining eleven dare not choose on their own. It was not their decision to make; not their judgment to call. The Apostle Matthias would preached to the Jews and the Gentiles and is depicted in iconography with a battle sword placed over a book, symbolizing his struggles to preach the Gospel. Although much is not known of Matthias, St. Clement of Alexandria, in his writings (Stromata 184.108.40.206) points out that Matthias is Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector whom Jesus called out from a tree. Is it not true that only God knows the pure heart despite what others might think? Is it not true that only God knows the fullest potential of followers seen even from a distance? Jesus called Zacchaeus down from that tree for a reason. Too many, perhaps Matthias is the unknown Apostle, but he was never unknown or unseen by God. Perhaps we too are longing from a tree today. Know that our passion like Zacchaeus, is both known and seen by God and it is God who calls us out.
and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. Matthew 27:45-54 I Sing A Song Of The Saints of God, hymn 293 of the 1982 Hymnal (Episcopal Church), a rather perky little song usually sung on “All Saints” Day which falls on the first of November. It speaks to those willing to do the work of God in all capacities of life, both lay and ordained ministry. The recent events concerning the Ukraine controversy, attacks in the Gaza strip and Israel, backlash against innocent children from Mexico seeking a better life, the 200 young Nigerian girls abducted from school, and various other social and political struggles in this country and around the world, is certainly cause for each of us to rise up in some way, large or small. Mother Theresa said: It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts. The work of God comes from the passion of heart. The work of God comes out of love, Everyday should be All Saints Day. Lord help each of us to be one daily so even when the smallest of opportunities comes we will know what to do.
…they compelled this man to carry his cross. Matthew 27:32-44 Geeez! I used cringe when I was “pressed” into service. Of all the people standing around, why me? Why Simon? Coming in from Cyrene (Libya, North Africa), was he perhaps marginalized by the Romans as someone with no stake in the matter at hand? If so, they were wrong on so many accounts. Simon probably didn’t have much choice, but he could have said “no.” Although we don’t really no how he felt at the time, the fact that he did carry the cross speaks volumes particularly to the notion that sometimes we have to be our sister’s keeper in ways we may not have anticipated. Why not us? If we happen to be in the right place at the right time, I believe it is God who raises us up for such times in need. For in the same way the honor fell on St. Simon, should it not fall on us?
…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field… Matthew 13: 31-33,44-52 St. Augustine wrote; “Set love as the criterion for all that you say, and whatever you teach, teach in such a way that the person to whom you speak by hearing may believe, and believing hope and by hoping love.” There’s a recent book and movie out called Heaven is for Real. I haven’t seen the movie so I won’t speak about it except that the trailers seem to focus on a place. However, I believe that Christ’s meaning in these passages is not merely a place but also a state of being, a rule of life, and a realm of both glory and authority that lay within God’s purpose for our lives. It all begins with the nurturing of a seed out of love. If we but experience this love one time, perhaps we wont need a book or a movie to tell us that not only is the Kingdom of Heaven for real, the Kingdom of Heaven is now.
Saturday’s Meditation: Psalm 138:1-4
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down towards your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.
3:00 pm – Today at The George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate 1801 W. Diamond Street, Philadelphia, PA, The Rev. Renee Mckenzie-Heyward, PhD., Vicar, we will celebrate 40 Years of Women’s Ordination in the Episcopal Church. Pray our strength of soul for another 40 years and far beyond.
…he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver… Matthew 27:1-10 Is it possible that Judas didn’t think that by handing Jesus over to the Jewish authorities, he would be condemned to death? Is it possible that the last straw for Judas, was seeing the woman “waste” valuable ointment poured it over the head of Jesus? Is it possible that his decision to betray Jesus was purely about the money? How many times have we done things without thinking, that ultimately caused someone else’s pain? How many times have we become so frustrated with a situation we stop thinking and simply react? How many times has money or even notoriety guided our own actions? With Christ the disciples had everything they needed. Christ shared both his knowledge and wisdom concerning God. Christ even shared, on several occasions, his impending death. Why didn’t Judas get it? In the end, Jesus calls Judas friend, choosing to look past the root of Judas’ actions. I believe Jesus knew that Judas would repent. It wasn’t about saving himself but rather saving the rest of us. Yet, sometimes we don’t get it, but with the price already paid, opportunities will always arise to do what’s right, for we who are alive and live in Christ.
Then Peter remembered… Matthew 16:69-73 Sometimes, memory convicts us. It takes us back to places we don’t always want to go. Yet at the same time it can serve to keep us honest with ourselves and humble with our words. Early in Jesus ministry, he predicted that from Peter,”on this rock” Christ’s church would be built. The fact that the latter prediction by Jesus concerning Peter came true before the earlier one leaves me wondering if the reality of Peter’s own words of contradiction, is perhaps what brought him to tears and reminds me to never say never. Jesus however, already knew that Peter’s denial wasn’t the end. By God’s grace, one single act ever is. Remembering is a gift and a tool, which helps us live out God’s grace. No doubt, when Peter stopped crying, he dusted himself off and remembered that according to God’s plan he still had work to do. Even in our calling we are capable of falling, but know that out of divine calling God has already lifted us up.
Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:20 When Jesus stood before the Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:57-68), he didn’t have much to say. His actions spoke loud and clear. The problem as I see it was the authorities did not understand the actions. They equated wealth with knowledge, understanding and favor from God. The Psalmist seems to make clear that honor without wisdom is futile. Nor does having honor render wisdom automatically. What is perhaps not as clear is that one refers to physical position and the other refers to spiritual position. With certainty, we know that the body dies but of more certainty, it is the spirit which lives, that we remember. Through Christ the gift of the Spirit doesn’t need wealth. So whom do we serve; the body or the spirit? Up to and including that day before the authorities, Jesus chose the Spirit.
…for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matthew 26:47-56 As a senior, I fenced in college. Although I was quite late to the sport the coach of the fencing class saw talent and asked me to try out for the team. Subsequently, I was chosen to be the first alternate which meant I got to travel with the varsity group. I loved it! Something about that saber was a rush particularly when I won, and I won a lot. That is until my last match of the season. I got the first touch easily and then my opponent started doing what looked like magic tricks. Before I knew it the match was over. Ego bruised; I was devastated. It wasn’t until later that my coach told me I was matched against the number one fencer in the state. That didn’t make me feel any better. A short lived run; it was a fun sport but not the kind of “sword” to live by. If we must live by the sword, let it be the sword of God’s righteousness. Let it be the sword of love, social justice and truth. Then death perhaps becomes a thing of God’s glory and not devastation.
Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping…. Matthew 26:36-46 When your heart is totally devoted to something, at times it can be frustrating when those closest to you don’t seem to share in your passion and the urgency that you feel to act is unsupported. This passion we have is part of the gift God has given us. If our mission is to use the gift for God’s glory, then our faith must be in God who will also provide us the laborers. This coming Saturday, The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Women Ordained to the Priesthood. We have definitely overcome some of the oppressive and hurtful “isms” in our society, and yet 2000 plus years after Jesus lifted up the marginalized, there are some who still sleep. When the larger church of believers fully reflects the peaceable Kingdom of the love of God, perhaps the world will be affected by the church’s baptismal vow, as we lift high the cross and the love Christ proclaims, in order that no flesh will attempt to ignore.
4th Anniversary of Women Ordained to the Priesthood
Church of the Advocate
18th & Diamond Streets