Zachary Baker Rodes
Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.
To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.
The Old Testament passage from today’s daily office comes to us from the Wisdom of Solomon. If you’ve never delved into the Wisdom literature of the Bible (Job, Proverbs, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus), I urge you to do so. Wisdom literature is later writings of the Israelite people, usually written after the Babylonian exile. Wisdom, for the Israelites, is about steering life, the legacy of parents to their children, knowledge of experienced ones, and the quest of Israel for self-understanding and mastery of the world around them.
Today’s reading extends to verse 23, but I only wish to highlight verses 12-16. Here Wisdom is something that we seek but also makes herself known to us, as long as we seek her. But she is also seeking those who are “worthy of her”. In other words, she meets us half-way. Wisdom loves to teach and wishes to do so, but that can only happen when we are willing to be taught. To love Wisdom is to know her and to know her we must find her as she searches for us. Leaning into our relationship with God then becomes an exercise with Wisdom. Wisdom does come from sitting around. Through prayer and through action as Christians we are exposed to the wisdom that God is trying to part with us so that we may “be free from care”.
In the Book of Common Prayer, there is a special collect for Fridays.
whose most dear Son went not up to joy
but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we,
walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I love this collect because it reminds us on every Friday, not just on Good Friday, of Jesus’s loving sacrifice for us, a sacrifice that sent him to the cross before he ascended into heaven. Jesus did not skip out on the hard parts of being human; he faced pain, suffering, and death in order to save the world from sin.
We live every day in a world still troubled by sin and because of that, we also walk in the way of the cross. But because we know that Jesus has gone before us and has conquered sin and death for us, we can find life and peace along the way.
Rev. Charles Hoffacker
Although much work remains to be done, relations have improved substantially between many Christian churches and the Jewish community in recent decades. Part of this change is due to the widespread abandonment of supersessionism, a belief held by some Christians that the Church’s covenant with God in Christ means that the covenant of the Jewish people with the one eternal God has been rendered obsolete. Another name for this belief is replacement theology.
In 1988, the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion met for the Lambeth Conference, an advisory gathering held every decade. One Conference document, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue” contains this paragraph (#16) about God’s irrevocable call of the Jewish people:
“Christians and Jews share a passionate belief in a God of loving kindness who has called us into relationship with himself. God is faithful and he does not abandon those he calls. We firmly reject any view of Judaism which sees it as a living fossil, simply superseded by Christianity. When Paul reflects on the mystery of the continued existence of the Jewish people (Romans 9-11) a full half of his message is the unequivocal proclamation of God’s abiding love for those whom he first called. Thus he wrote ‘God’s choice stands and they are his friends for the sake of the patriarchs. For the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable’ (Romans 11:28-30).
Rev. Charles Hoffacker
In 1960, Geoffrey Brindley left his job as a machinist to live in a cave in the Yorkshire Dales where, he claimed, he received a message from God. As a result, he dressed in a brown robe and sandals and walked the streets of the northern English city of Bradford come wind, rain, snow, or shine. He spread good cheer with a wave and a smile for everyone he saw. He did this for more than five decades. Most people knew him simply as the “Jesus Man” of Bradford.
Geoffrey made friends all over the city and regularly stopped at homes where his hosts served him a cooked dinner. People recalled stories of his cradling them as babies and singing to them. Later, they would bring their own babies to him.
Such was the affection for the Jesus Man that 23,000 people signed a petition in 2012 asking that he become an Olympic torchbearer. He modestly declined the honor.
When an interviewer asked him why he lived as he did, Brindley replied, “I just like walking.” And whenever it rained, he added, “I get wet.”
Brindley died in 2015 at the age of 88. The news was met with collective sadness. People paid tribute to a “gentle spiritual man.” He was buried from Bradford Cathedral.
There are countless ways to live a holy life, but to be known as the Jesus Man over many years, however it happens, must be a sign of grace.
Rev. Mary McCue
St. Mark (and the other Apostles) are commemorated in the front of our church and in the back. The mural in the front shows him with his symbol, a winged lion. The stained-glass depiction, in the choir loft, pictures him as well. He is called the Evangelist.
We celebrate his feast day today.
St. Mark was probably born around 5 AD in Cyrene. Legend says he was the servant who filled jugs with water that Jesus converted into wine at Cana. Legend also says he was the servant who filled up water jugs for the Last Supper. When Peter escaped from Herod’s confinement after being arrested, Mark served as his interpreter and traveling companion. In that role, scholars hypothesize, he wrote down Peter’s sermons. These served as the basis for the Gospel of Mark, believed to be the first written Gospel.
After he left Peter, he traveled to Alexandra in Egypt. There he founded the
Church of Alexandria, and served as its first Bishop. The Coptic Catholic Church, Coptic Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox Church all trace
their origins to the Church of Alexandria. He is believed to be responsible for
some of the liturgies still prayed in those churches today.
It is believed that Mark was killed by angry Alexandrians, who feared he was turning the people away from their traditional beliefs. They put a rope around his neck and dragged him until he died. He was interred in Alexandria.
In 828, the relics believed to be his, were stolen and brought to Venice. They were re-interred in what became the Basilica of St. Mark in that city.
Let us give thanks for the life of St. Mark.
Zachary Baker Rodes
Today the Episcopal Church commemorates the life and work of one of 20th century’s most underrated Christian thinkers. Toyohiko Kagawa was born in 1888 and his parents died while he was still quite young and sent away to school by his family where he was taught by an American missionary couple.
He would eventually convert to Christianity, which would lead to his extended family disowning him. He would learn at Kobe Theological Seminary and then Princeton Theological Seminary. Upon returning to Japan, he would settle with his wife, Haru, in the Kobe slums, living among and working with the poor. He became a passionate defender of the poor and women’s suffrage, and a committed pacifist and labor organizer. In 1921, he founded Co-Op Kobe, the largest consumer’s cooperative in the world which still in existence today.
His classic is Brotherhood Economics, in which he lays out his belief in an economic order that transcends capitalism, communism, and fascism. He wrote over 150 books, most of which have not been translated into English. He was nominated for the Noble Prize in Literature in 1947 and 1948 and the Peace Prize in 1954 and 1955. He died on April 23,1960 at the age of 70.
"I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about."
Rev. Charles Hoffacker
Founded in 1977, October Books in Southampton, England calls itself “more than a bookshop.” It sells political and current affairs books, fiction, children’s titles, food, and fair-trade products.
Several years back, the store was struggling to pay increasing rents, so launched a campaign to raise $400,000 to buy an old bank building a short distance down the street in order to have a space of its own. The money came in, some of it from people who had been shopping at October Books for forty years, and the building was purchased.
The store then faced a new challenge: How could its entire stock of books be moved to the new location without spending a lot of money or closing down for long?
October Books put out a call for help. People responded. On a Sunday afternoon in October, over two hundred people formed a line from the old location to the new and passed books from hand to hand, more than two thousand titles. The transfer took one hour.
Those who participated ranged in age from children to what the English call pensioners. Cafes brought cups of tea to the volunteers. Passersby asked what was happening, then took places in the line.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, building it through cooperation with others.
Rev. Mary McCue
Alphege (or AElfheah in ancient Saxon) was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a bloody death.
Born around 953, he was first a monk, then an anchorite (one who withdraws from the world to focus on prayer or the Eucharist). He was noted for his piety and austerity. That, and his devotion to St. Dunstan, an Archbishop of Canterbury, brought him to the attention of church authorities.
He was first named Abbott of Bath, then Bishop of Winchester. Named Archbishop of Canterbury in 1006, he maintained his devotion to St. Dunstan, but also launched new liturgical practices and became noted for his dedication to care of his community in a time of political and secular violence. In that, he was like a later Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.
According to Canterbury Cathedral archives, Becket revered the memory of Alphege, and preached a sermon about him and his example. Alphege was captured by Danish forces in 1011, and Canterbury was plundered and burned. Though ransom was arranged for him, the Danes demanded additional ransom, which Alphege refused to pay. He was then murdered by the Danes in 1012.
Thomas Becket was murdered by soldiers of King Henry II in 1170. Some say he prayed to Alphege while he was being slain. Both slain Archbishops are memorialized in Canterbury Cathedral, where both their bodies are interred.
May they rest in eternal peace.
Zachary Baker Rodes
In today’s Gospel reading from the Daily Office, we read of Luke’s account of John’s ministry immediately preceding the start of Jesus’. As we know, John was also baptizing but the key difference is that only the Messiah will baptize “with (or in as some translations say) the Holy Spirit”. John has simply, as he says, been baptizing people with water.
As we know, water is a cleansing force. We bathe it, we wash things in it, and with the Holy Spirit, we are baptized into a new life in Christ. But that is not all that the Messiah will do. He will also “gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
In this Eastertide, we are ever contemplating what our baptism means to us, for it is the way in which we have died into Christ and then been born also into his Resurrection. While Pentecost is still weeks away, what are we doing now to live into a life that is filled with the Holy Spirit? One that is proclaiming, just like John, the “good news to the people”. My hope and prayer is that you as an individual, and collectively as a community, can further feel the movement of the Spirit in our lives and what that leads us to do as Christians.
Rev. Mary McCue
Zeno of Verona, whose feast day we celebrate today, was a monastic, an educator, a renowned baptizer and a reformer.
He was probably born in the year 300, and probably died about 371 or 380. (Records were not that good back then.) Zeno received a classical education for his time, and first turned his talents into helping children with their schoolwork and throughout his career, found time to continue helping in that way.
Zeno spent years as a monastic before being called to be Bishop of Verona. As a bishop, he baptized many, formed a convent for women, and reformed Agape feast practices. He is also remembered for forbidding groans and wailing at funeral masses.
Though he was persecuted for his beliefs during the reigns of Constantine II and Julian the Apostate, he enjoyed some political support. Emperor Charlemagne and his son Pepin, King of Italy, endowed a basilica he built –widely believed to be first basilica in Christendom.
Today, he is remembered in the Church of San Zeno, built in the twelfth century and refurbished in the thirteenth and early fifteenth centuries. His symbol is a fish, perhaps because he was an avid fisherman throughout his life, who was said to have performed miracles while he was fishing. More likely, the fish is his symbol because of his achievements in baptizing many people.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington