Update to Regathering

April 14, 2021

Beginning April 18, we will resume indoor Sunday worship at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., with many safety protocols in place. Both services include a Zoom component so that as many of our congregation as possible can gather. Those who wish to gather in person will need to register in advance. If coronavirus conditions worsen, we will reconsider this plan.

 

Please be alert to coronavirus trends, your own safety, and that of others. If you have any worries, please 

"Stay home, Stay safe, Stay connected."

SERVICES & SERMONS

 

Sunday Worship

Holy Eucharist Rite II 9:30 am Virtual Service

The Eucharist we are using is adapted for a special need in a special time. It draws on the wisdom and creative path of Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World, which begins, “Since once again, Lord…I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole world my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.” As we cannot physically share bread and wine due to the global pandemic, we share the Word and a spiritual communion. 

Celtic Service 5:30 pm Virtual Service

 

We  have reinstated our beloved Celtic service, online for the time being. Our Sunday evening service draws on our Celtic Christian roots, with an emphasis on God's presence in all of creation, especially in the natural world and in humanity.  Our evening  musicians blends keyboards, woodwinds and guitar to provide meditative music for contemplation and reflection throughout the service.  In this virtual space, the service  retains many of its cherished traditions: poetry, silence, scripture and a short meditation, healing prayers, and candlelight.  We encourage those attending to prepare your own spaces at home and have your own candles ready to light at the appropriate time. 

 
 
Sermon

John 20:19-31

2 Easter - 4/11/2021

St. Aidan’s Alexandria

Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales

Interim Rector

He showed them his hands and his side…and the disciples rejoiced.

I have no doubt they rejoiced, but do you think that was their FIRST reaction?

I’m thinking that FIRST came fear, shock, guilt, and that very natural question,

     Who left the door unlocked?

The gospel is bad news before it is good news.

     So surely, those other feelings came first:

Fear, for they were already afraid that the people who took Jesus away would come for them. Fear, because no one expected to see Jesus, so who could this stranger be?

Shock, for doesn’t he seem a lot like our leader, our Lord? BUT THAT is imposs….. . and the shock of recognition…

Guilt, for the wounds he showed them were the wounds of their betrayal, denial, abandonment, and cowardice.

     And the locked doors? I can see them silently questioning one another, nodding, and one of them edging over to check the handle. Yep, definitely locked.

     But here is Jesus anyway, alive, in a new way that somehow makes him a stranger, gives him abilities that mortal bodies don’t have, AND YET bears that familiar presence, that beloved voice, that longed-for reassurance that all is not lost.

     “Peace be with you.” We say it every week until, perhaps, the sheen of those simple words has dulled. “Peace be with you,” when Jesus said it in that place of fear and shame and sorrow, sounded brand new. It was the LAST word the disciples expected to hear. And it was exactly what they needed to hear.

     “Peace be with you,” meant that when he showed them his hands, they could dare to look. They could dare to face the tragedy and the trauma they had locked out, and with more than bolts and bars. The forgiveness he first uttered, then BREATHED on them with the fresh wind of new creation, gave them strength to look at his hands.

     For in his resurrection body, he still bears the marks of his suffering.  The wounds identify him as the Crucified One, the Savior; and they bear mute testimony, then and now, to the damage human beings can do to one another, and to God.

* * *

When I tell today’s gospel story to children, I use a picture that shows Jesus’ hand reaching out toward the disciples. The hand looks large because of perspective, and the mark of the nails (while not gory) is dramatic enough that many children avert their eyes. They don’t want to see. I don’t want to see the results of humankind’s failures, and my own. But other children are more curious, and more than one has asked, “Does the cut go all the way through?”

 

     Think about it. Does it go all the way through? It does, and I don’t mean just the nail hole.

Because “All the way through,” holding nothing back, is the way Jesus lived his life.

     “All the way through” is the way he united his will his Father’s.

     “All the way through” is the way he loved those disciples, and loves us still.

 

     Could those wounds, “all the way through,” be something like windows? Through those wounded hands, might the disciples see back to the past, beyond the locked doors; and ahead to the future, glimpsing heaven’s glory.

     He showed them his hands . . . and they remembered. . . . how those hands had beckoned them from their fishing boats and fields, from tax booths and tables: “Come, follow me.”

     They remembered how those hands had touched the eyes of a blind man and returned his sight; invited Zaccheus to come down from that tree; reached down to lift a little girl from the sleep of death; .

They remembered those hands sweeping through the air, gesturing, calling  the crowds to see the mustard seed grown to a mighty shrub providing shelter; the pearl that someone would give up everything for; the shepherd who left the 99 to search for the one who was lost..

     They remembered the way that, just a few nights before, those hands took bread, gave thanks to God, broke it and fed them with his own life.

     And they remembered how he offered that life, stretching out his hands on the hard wood of the cross. They remembered how They. Ran. Away.

 

     But now, through the window of his wounds, they see their past redeemed. They see their futures restored, as they – they, with all their flaws and failures -  are entrusted with the mission of God. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

       Wouldn’t you like to have been there to see? Thomas would.

                   It’s another whole week before he gets his chance. Not willing to leave one of his own in grief and doubt, Jesus comes back for the lost one. He meets Thomas where he is, accepting his skepticism, offering him forgiveness and a future. And then it’s Thomas who makes the strongest profession of all the disciples: “My Lord and My God.”

 

     It’s no accident that, when Jesus returns, it’s the first day of the week again. By the time John wrote his gospel, Christians were meeting on Sundays, celebrating their Sabbath as the day of resurrection.

     And it’s here, on our Sabbath, that we, too, wait for Jesus to enter our locked doors, our locked hearts, knowing that he will come when HE chooses; it’s here we bring our fear, our shocks and guilts; our doubts and our lostness, our hunger to forgive and be forgiven.

     It’s here, in the presence of the wounded and resurrected Jesus, that we bring OUR wounds. In community, in prayers, we offer OUR wounded selves that he might touch us and bring us peace.

     His peace is not a peace meant to soothe us into spiritual slumber. This peace, through the Holy Spirit, breathes new life into us and sends us forth: fed, so that we might feed others; forgiven, so that we might forgive; healed, so that we might heal.

     Like the disciples, we — with all our flaws and failures, and with all God’s gifts and graces — are entrusted with his mission: to be God’s hands – God’s wounded hands – in the world he loves and came to save.

     Go out, and show them HIS hands.                          Amen.

ADDRESS

703-360-4220

8531 Riverside Rd.

Alexandria, Virginia, 22308

staidansalexandria@gmail.com

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