St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Canon Claude Schroeder
Today, Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of what in traditional Christian churches is called Holy Week. It is the most spiritually intense week of the year for Christians. It’s the time of year we seek to enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. To set the scene we just heard St. Matthew’s account of the Passion of Christ. If we were to follow the plan as it is laid out in the Book of Common Prayer, we would be back in church every day this week, where in the service of Holy Communion on Monday and Tuesday we would read through Mark’s account of the Passion; Wednesday and Thursday we would read through Luke’s account of the Passion; and on Friday, Good Friday, we would bring have the climatic reading of the Passion according to John. That’s pretty intense.
In lots of ways, I still consider myself to be pretty new to this Anglicanism thing. Before I began coming to church at St. Mary’s, my impression of the Anglican church was synonymous in my mind with England and Englishness. But I’ve learned a lot about our rituals, our church calendar, the festivals and feasts and fasts we observe, and I’ve come to appreciate how much deeper into the history of the Church our Anglican roots go. The lectionary we are following in Lent dates all the way back to the 5th century. We share feasts and fasts with other liturgical churches, holy days which Christians have been observing for nearly all of our history.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
At last, in spite of all, a recognition, For those who loved and laboured for so long, Who brought us, through that labour, to fruition To flourish in the place where we belong. A thanks to those who stayed and did the raising, Who buckled down and did the work of two, Whom governments have mocked instead of praising, Who hid their heart-break and still struggled through, The single mothers forced onto the edge Whose work the world has overlooked, neglected, Invisible to wealth and privilege, But in whose lives the kingdom is reflected. Now into Christ our mother church we bring them, Who shares with them the birth-pangs of His Kingdom.
WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Batter My Heart Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town to another due, Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain, But am betroth’d unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Canon Claude Schroeder
Sermon on Matthew 15. 21-27
The Gospel lessons in the first three Sundays in Lent comprise what we might call a mini course in demonology. Everything you wanted to know about demons but were afraid to ask. Well, may not everything you wanted you needed know about demons.
So last Sunday Jesus goes into the wilderness and is tempted by the devil himself on three separate occasions, which serve to inform our understanding of the triple renunciations Christians make in Holy Baptism.
Today we have the story of the Canaanite woman whose daughter was tormented by a demon.
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Strong Son of God, immortal Love, Whom we, that have not seen thy face, By faith, and faith alone, embrace, Believing where we cannot prove; … Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be: They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
We have but faith: we cannot know; For knowledge is of things we see; And yet we trust it comes from thee, A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more, But more of reverence in us dwell; That mind and soul, according well, May make one music as before … - Alfred Tennyson
St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Canon Claude Schroeder
Sermon on Matthew 4. 1-11.
The Gospel lesson for the First Sunday of Lent is the same every year. It’s the story of how Jesus after His Baptism was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he fasted 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil.
Starting today and for the next two Sundays we are going be considering the reality of demonic temptation, which are the obstacles that we face on our journey to Jerusalem where at Easter we will celebrate the Paschal Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
For converts to Christianity preparing for baptism at Easter, these lessons would have been very instructive. Christian baptism begins with a triple renunciation of the demonic powers of the world, the flesh, and the devil. But just because in baptism and in confirmation you renounced the demonic powers and received the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean that the demonic powers are going to leave you alone. St. Peter, in a letter to the newly baptized, wrote, “Be sober, be watchful, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith. (1 Peter 5, 8,9)
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights: Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Fountain thirsts, the Bread is hungry here The Light is dark, the Word without a voice. When darkness speaks it seems so light and clear. Now He must dare, with us, to make a choice. In a distended belly’s cruel curve He feels the famine of the ones who lose He starves for those whom we have forced to starve He chooses now for those who cannot choose.
He is the staff and sustenance of life He lives for all from one Sustaining Word His love still breaks and pierces like a knife
The stony ground of hearts that never shared, God gives through Him what Satan never could; The broken bread that is our only food.
O LORD, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: Send thy Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever lives is counted dead before thee: Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, Guilty of dust and sin. But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack'd anything. 'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:' Love said, 'You shall be he.' 'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, I cannot look on Thee.' Love took my hand and smiling did reply, 'Who made the eyes but I?' 'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame Go where it doth deserve.' 'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?' 'My dear, then I will serve.' 'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.' So I did sit and eat. George Herbert (1593-1632)
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ‒ Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (G.M. Hopkins)