Update to Regathering

December 26, 2020

All in-person worship is suspended due to coronavirus conditions.  Stay home, stay safe, stay connected.

Please hold all those suffering from Covid, those caring for them, those who are afraid, isolated, or lonely, in your prayers.

Though we are not all able to meet in person for worship, we are finding that the desire to pray, celebrate,

and support each other in community still brings us together as we gather daily for evening worship, on

Sunday mornings for our main service, on Sunday evenings for our Celtic service, and on Tuesday and Friday mornings for silent prayer and meditation.  

Evening worship is at 7:00 pm, Sunday morning at 9:30 am, Sunday evening at 5:30 pm and Tuesday and Friday we meet at 8:00 a.m. 

Information about joining services will be sent to registered participants. 

 

If you would like to be registered to join worship or silent prayer and meditation, you can email us on the Contacts page.  We will need to verify your name, address, phone number, and email.  We apologize for this extra layer of security, but it has become necessary.  We hope you will join us online, in person, or both, as we continue to worship God and support one another through this unusual time.

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

Mark 8:31-38

Second Sunday of Lent – 2/28/21

St. Aidan’s Alexandria

The Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales

Interim Rector

You are setting your mind, not on divine things, but on human things.

 

It’s only natural. It’s only human. Peter is simply expressing what most of us feel when we hear Jesus say that he is going to undergo great suffering, and die. We rarely hear the third part of that prediction – “and on the third day, rise again” – and if Peter heard it, did he believe it?

 

I think he was still so shocked by the image of suffering and death that he didn’t hear its victorious end. Even our 2000-year-old Church, which knows the end of the story, still struggles with what it calls the “passion predictions.” Somehow, the resurrection wrapped up in the same predictions gets upstaged by the cross – that shocking and scandalous cross.

Three times in the gospel of Mark – today is the first – Jesus reveals the strange manner in which God will save the world, and I don’t know about you, but my heart still rebels against it.

 

Setting my mind on human things, I concur with Peter when he says something like,
“God forbid, Lord, this must never happen to you!”[1] Who among us, hearing dire news from a friend, doesn’t want to shout, like Peter, “No!”

 

And Jesus is not just any friend. It’s been only minutes since Peter answered Jesus’ pop quiz, “Who do you say that I am?” with conviction: “You are the messiah of God!” Now, he is learning just what KIND of messiah he is dealing with, and he rebels. How can the messiah be at loggerheads with the chief priest, scribes and elders – isn’t he to be the fulfillment of their hopes? And isn’t the messiah supposed to gather an army of angels and liberate God’s holy  people, not become their victim? So it’s only natural, it’s only human, for Peter to answer Jesus’ dark alternative vision with a cry, “No!”

 

He even takes Jesus aside for this confrontation, as if to correct an unruly student outside the hearing of others – forgetting for the moment that he, Peter, is the student, and Jesus the master. So “Get behind me,” places Peter back where he belongs, behind Jesus where he can follow, not try to lead. Not tempt him, like Satan, to avoid what he has just foretold: that his death, in some mysterious way, will give life to the world.

 

For Jesus has answered the question Peter dares not ask: – Why? 

At the beginning of his lecture in today’s gospel, Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man MUST undergo great suffering, and be rejected, and be killed. MUST. It is not an option. And so my very human heart rebels, like Peter’s, against what I do not understand.

 

There is more to unravel about the divine dictate that Jesus is following, about how his torture and death occurs, as we say in our eucharistic prayer, “in obedience to [God’s] will.”

*     *     *

 

Perhaps some human examples will help.

 

In a week that has seen our nation pass the half-million mark in deaths from Covid-19 –

500,000 fellow Americans gone – I have spent hours reading the stories of the nearly 4,000 health care workers among them.  People who,  when family or friends urged them not to go to work, to just turn away their patients, said simply, “I MUST.”

 

Saying no was not an option for Sam Scolaro, a family doctor in Florida, who had made a vow to God that if he got into medical school, he would serve patients until the day he died. For 38 years, he did just that, and continued as Covid cases escalated. He died in July at age 75.

 

Turning back was not an option for Sheena Miles, a nurse in Mississippi, who kept working even when her son urged her not to. “You don’t understand,” she told him. “I have an oath to do this. I don’t have a choice.” Sheena died shortly after last Easter, at 60.

 

Charmaine McFadden, mother of 7 sons, was 46 when she died in November. A healthcare support worker in Connecticut, she had told her family, “My profession chose me.”

 

Karla Dominguez, a pediatric nurse in Texas who delighted children with her Minions scrubs, was 33.

John Paul Granger, an EMT in South Carolina who treated everyone like a brother or sister, was 22.[2]

 

Not all of them considered their work a call from God, but all of them put their patients’ lives before their own. Without their sacrifices, even more than 500,000 lives would be lost.

You could say these health-care heroes were setting their minds not on human things, but on divine things. For those who want to save their own lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives for the sake of others will save them.

 

*     *     *

 

That’s the promise Jesus makes, and like many preachers and teachers, he is speaking first to himself.

 

Like those health-care workers and thousands of others, Jesus did not want to die. He simply accepted that, if that’s what it took to fulfill his mission, he was willing.

 

 

 

So now we come to the question, the question behind Peter’s objection, and mine: Why?

Why is it God’s will for his own son to suffer a gory and grueling ordeal, and to lose his life, to save ours?

 

It is not from lack of faith that we ask this question. It’s BECAUSE we have faith. For those without faith, the scandal of the cross is foolishness, a stumbling block that makes millions simply turn away. But for those of us who can’t, we keep turning our eyes to this “emblem of suffering and shame”[3] that is, paradoxically, the unique sign of glory and vindication.

 

We are not supposed to love the cross. We are supposed to be horrified by its brutality and terror and the truth it tells of what human beings can do to one another, and to God. The cross, says theologian Jurgen Moltmann, “is not and cannot be loved.”[4]

Our love is for the One who hangs there.

 

So let us journey with him in these weeks of Lent, in faith seeking understanding, and with thanksgiving for his sacrifice and his love. Let us keep asking the questions that burn in our hearts and not turn away, answering love with love.

 

Let us set our minds not on human things, but on divine things. Amen.

 

[1] Matthew 16:22, parallel with today’s reading.

[2] “Lost on the Frontline,” https://khn.org/news/lost-on-the-frontline-health-care-worker-death-toll-covid19-coronavirus/

[3] George Bennard, “The Old Rugged Cross,” Lift Every Voice and Sing II, #38.

[4] Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: 40th Anniversary Edition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), p. xix.

ADDRESS

703-360-4220

8531 Riverside Rd.

Alexandria, Virginia, 22308

staidansalexandria@gmail.com

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