Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sermon; Easter 3B; Luke 24:36-48

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Today's gospel story may sound familiar to you. In Luke's context this takes place on the evening of Easter Day. At early dawn the women went to the tomb. Later that day two disciples were on the road to Emmaus. That evening those same two disciples saw Jesus take, bless, break, and give them bread, and they ran back to Jerusalem and told the eleven what had happened. And now while they were talking about these things, Jesus appears among them.

The familiarity of this passage comes from Jesus standing among the disciples and saying, “Peace be with you.” It comes from him showing them his hands and feet. It comes from the doubting. And it comes from him sharing food with them. It may seem as if Luke freely borrowed from other sources to give us this resurrection story. Or maybe they borrowed from him. It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter because the source material isn't important. What's important and what matters is the story. And the story is that Christ has dies, Christ is risen.

This is a story about an encounter with the risen Christ. This is, in Luke's context, one of three encounters with Christ on Easter Day. It is this final story that sums up all the other stories. Jesus appears, people are scared, people doubt, he shows his wounds, he shares a meal. Not only does this story sum up all other resurrection stories, but I think it sums up people today in general.

Last week I said that we were the disciples in that gospel story. As the Father sent the Son, the Son sends the disciples. As the disciples are sent, so are we sent. As the disciples were Christ's representatives, so we are now Christ's representatives.

This is where the gospel story intersects with today.

Jesus came and stood among them and they were startled and terrified. This isn't too different from today. If we are with a group of people – on the golf course, at a restaurant, in a bar, wherever – and we stand up and announce, “Peace be with you. I want to tell you all about Christ,” I'm guessing the people in that group might be startled and terrified. This is probably not the way to evangelize. This is probably not the way to emulate Jesus.

But then Jesus does something that we might want to emulate. He points to himself. He shows them his hands and his feet. He lets them know that he is just like them. He lets them know he has been wounded and scarred just like them. In our encounter with people around the issue of religion, church, and faith, one of the things we can do is let them know that we are not perfect. We also have our own troubles, our own wounds, our own holes, our own scars. We are just like them – the issues may be different, but we are all broken and we are all healing.

Following this bit of show and tell Jesus then asks for a piece of fish. In the gospel story this is to show that this person is substantially Jesus and not a ghost. It's to show he is not a figment of their imagination. It's to show he's real.

I think what we can take from this is that meaningful encounters are not always some mystical, spiritual event, but that meaningful encounters with Christ can take place in the every day occurrences of physical contact, a meal, and a conversation. And although we'd like to have our meaningful, spiritual encounters be mystical mountain top experiences (I remember having one of those while sitting in the seminary chapel), maybe the more common place is through personal encounters while comparing our scars and sharing a meal.

This past Thursday I was in Baltimore for my final Fresh Start gathering, and both Bp. Sutton and Bp. Chilton were with us. The topic of spiritual direction came up and where clergy could find resources for that. Bp. Sutton said something to the effect that spiritual direction may no longer be the traditional one-on-one model, but that it may take place over the course of years from time spent at a retreat center, talking and eating with the monks or nuns.

This past Wednesday I had an encounter with a man at the bar. As I was finishing my beer, he approached me and started talking about his cousin who recently had a massive heart attack that will leave him in long-term assisted living. He's 51. The man also talked about other family members with critical health issues. But the real problem was that he was feeling guilty about not visiting his cousin before the incident. Never mind that the cousin never took his heart medication. Never mind that he drank too much. The guilt of not visiting left a hole in his chest he was trying to heal. So we talked.

All I can do is hope it helped. All I can do is hope I gave him a glimpse of the wounded and resurrected Christ. All I can do is hope this personal encounter gave him hope and a beginning of healing.

When we search for an encounter with Christ it doesn't have to be a magnificent mountain top experience; it can be as mundane and meaningful as a one-on-one encounter. When we say, “Alleluia. Christ is risen,” it doesn't have to be in a manner that startles and terrifies people.

As the Father sent the Son, the Son sent the disciples. As the disciples were sent, so you are sent. But remember this, you are not sent to terrify people. You are sent to meet people where they are and allow the risen Christ to touch them through the mundane and normal acts of everyday life.


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Sermon; Easter 2; John 20:19-31

Besides Trinity Sunday, I really need to look into getting a supply priest/guest preacher for this Second Sunday of Easter. Like Trinity Sunday, where the topic is always the Trinity, the topic for this Sunday is always Thomas. Unlike Trinity Sunday where we get different gospel passages every year, though, this Second Sunday of Easter is always this passage. Same topic, same readings, second verse, same as the first. Ho hum, here we go again.

But let's dispense with the repetition and redundancy. Let's dispense with the misguided notion that only poor old Thomas had doubts about the resurrection. Let's look for something new.

On the evening of the resurrection ten of the disciples were all gathered together behind locked doors. Thomas was not with them. Scripture doesn't say why this was so, but my standard answer is that he had been appointed by the group to take over the duties held by Judas – mainly that of being the treasurer. I've said this before, but I think he was down at the bank filling out a new signature card when all of this happened.

Regardless of the reason, he was missing for that first group encounter with the resurrected Christ. When he comes back from the bank the other ten tell him what happened, but he won't believe until he sees the nail wounds and places his hands in Christ's side. We know this story. It's one of the favorites of our tradition. But let's look at a few pieces and maybe connect some dots a little more deeply.
Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” The disciples are now apostles, being sent out to teach and preach the message of the Good News. The disciples are now Christ's representatives on earth. They are his hands and feet, his ears and mouth. They are now charged with forgiving, healing, and restoring all things to unity with God in Christ.

In this story, the disciples represent you. As the disciples were sent, so you are sent. This means that you all are responsible for the spread of the kingdom, as am I. We are all Christ's representatives on earth. We all have a responsibility to teach and preach the Good News of God in Christ. We all are Christ's hands and feet, his ears and mouth.

In today's gospel, the ten disciples hiding away in fear. That means that we are also hiding away in fear. But as Christ moves the disciples from fear to action, so are you moved. As the disciples are sent, so you are sent. As the disciples were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, so you have been given the same gift. You have been sent by Christ to proclaim the good news, to be his hands, feet, ears, and mouth on earth, and you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be not afraid.

So if the ten disciples represent you, who does Thomas represent? I think Thomas represents everyone outside these walls. He represents everyone who does not know Christ.

Thomas represents everyone who believes that Jesus actually lived. He represents everyone who believes that Jesus was executed by the Romans for being a troublemaker. He represents those who may even believe Jesus was a great prophet, teacher, and/or healer of his day. And Thomas represents those who simply cannot believe in the resurrection without proof.

Origen writes that Thomas was a precise and careful man (proving my point that he was now the treasurer for the group) and didn't at first believe because others had thought Jesus an apparition. Thomas didn't believe in ghost stories, so for him to believe Jesus was indeed Jesus and not a vision, he had to see and touch. And Peter Chrysologus questions why Thomas felt the need to touch and handle wounds and organs laid bare by the cruelty of his tormentors.

Thomas represents the skeptic, but he also represents all those seeking alliance with one who has been wounded. He represents those seeking to be comforted by those who have also suffered.

MADD came about when anguished mothers had had enough of children being killed by drunk drivers. AA works because people who fight that addiction help others who also struggle. Within our building are people who suffer and struggle with a variety of issues. We know what it is like to be broken, injured, and neglected.

We know, and Jesus knows. This puts us in an interesting position because Christians are the only people who's Savior was beaten, broken, suffered, and died. Christ is with us in our sufferings.

We represent Christ, who suffered like us and suffers with us. This allows us to stand with all the Thomases of the world who are searching for solidarity and solace at the hands of someone who understands.

Thomas did not say, “Unless I see the size of your endowment, or your cars and boats, or other signs of blessings, I will not believe.” Thomas was looking for the person who knew sorrow like his sorrow. Thomas didn't want easy answers or pithy platitudes. Thomas wanted a real person who would walk with him through difficult times.

Thomas represents all those who are suffering and in turmoil. Thomas represents those who are searching for someone who understands life can be painful.

Jesus is that person. We are those people. We are wounded. We have been afflicted. We have had broken hearts and painful experiences. Those experiences can let us empathize with the Thomases of the world – those who are hurting and exposed.

We are the disciples. We are Jesus. We have been sent to teach, proclaim, and heal, because that's what Jesus did. But we haven't been called in our perfection; we have been called with our wounds exposed.

Everyone out there is Thomas. Everyone out there is looking for someone who understands, or at least empathizes with, their own pain.

If we are going to reach the Thomases of the world, we need to be willing to expose our own wounds. Because it is often in that place of vulnerability where Jesus is present.


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Sermon; Easter Day 2018

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

This is the day we celebrate Christ's resurrection. This is the day we celebrate his crossing over from death to life. This is the Passover of Christ where we celebrate and share in his victory over death.

Now, technically, every Sunday is a celebration of that event. Every Sunday we proclaim in some fashion, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Every Sunday is a feast day – which is why Sundays are not counted as part of the days of Lent. But only this Sunday, Easter Day, do we make such a big deal out of it.

So again, welcome to all of you who have come to join us in this celebration of life over death. Welcome to visitors from near and far who have come to join the party. Welcome to young and old alike as we celebrate the ultimate victory of Christ. Welcome to the traveler and the settled as we join in the feast.

Today didn't start out this way of course. That first Easter followed on the heels of a betrayal, arrest, execution, and burial. It followed a day of uncertainty and loneliness.

The actual first Easter was one of fear, terror, unbelief, sadness, and confusion. Matthew tells us that the women left the tomb with fear and joy, and that when the disciples saw Christ, some worshiped while dome doubted. Luke records that the women were perplexed and that the disciples thought their story to be an idle tale. John tells us that Mary was incredibly distraught and confused, while John and Peter did not understand. And Mark tells us that the women were so terrified that they initially said nothing to anyone.

Of course, nobody knows when this event actually occurred. People have been trying to pin down a date for ages. You would think that for such an important event the disciples would certainly have included it in what they told their eventual followers. And as far as Luke goes, God love him . . . but for someone who begins his gospel by saying that he wanted to “set down an orderly account of the events,” he certainly missed the boat on this one. Add to all of this the differences between Jewish, Julian, and Gregorian calendars, and the actual date of the Resurrection is a mystery.

I want to believe that today is the day of Resurrection. Obviously. Let me rephrase that: I want to believe that today, this very date, April 1st of whatever year it was, was the Day of Resurrection. Right now, at this moment, I want that to be the case more than anything.

You are all probably wondering why that is. I'm glad you asked.

We have just come through Holy Week – the most holy and stressful time of the entire year. On Maundy Thursday we shared a meal, betrayed Jesus, and sentenced him to death. On Good Friday that sentence was carried out and we had him executed. On Saturday all creation held its breath. And today . . . today we go to the tomb.

These events are fresh in our minds. Today we go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and pay our final respects. But he is not there. The body is gone.

We have no idea what happened. All we know is that Jesus is dead and buried, and that dead men don't move. Dead men don't up and disappear.

But then there's Jesus, popping out from behind some bush or tree or . . . stone: “HA!” he says. “April Fool! I'm here and I'm alive!”

And we, like the women, stare in stunned silence.

I can see Jesus now, laughing hysterically. “You should see the look on your face!” he roars with laughter.

Best. Joke. Ever.

And so we proclaim, “Christ has died. April Fool!”

Well, not really.

What really did happen was that four different accounts tell a story with four different points of view and four different points of emphasis. But it's not their differences that we focus on – it's their telling of a story that is capital T True.

That story tells us that Christ died, executed by worldly powers. That story tells us that women were the first to experience the resurrected Christ and that those women were the first apostles. That story tells us that Christ is alive. From these varying accounts comes this truthful acclamation: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. And that acclamation became the source of a weekly remembrance and a glorious and grand annual celebration we call Easter.

On this day, the women go to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus and to finish the burial ceremony. On this day the women go to the tomb expecting to see what we would all expect to see when visiting a grave or a morgue. But on this day the tomb is empty. Jesus is not here. Christ is alive. April Fool.

But that April Fool joke to beat all April Fools jokes is not on us. He who got fooled was death. Worldly powers and death thought they had won. When Jesus died on that cross, death and the powers of the world thought it was finished. But they were wrong. It isn't finished, it is just beginning.

And what is beginning is the reign of life over death. What is beginning is an end to fear. We no longer fear death. He has bestowed on us the gift of eternal life. He is calling us to enter into the joy of his kingdom. He is calling us to the banquet feast. So on this day when death has been fooled and Christ reigns victorious, we make our proclamation

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Sermon; Easter Vigil 2018

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep . . . And God said, “Let there be light.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.

We have just come through some dark days. Last week after the celebratory procession, the singing of “All glory, laud, and honor,” after waving our palm branches, we turned around and shouted, “Crucify him!” On Thursday we ate the final meal, betrayed and abandoned him. Friday we denied knowing him and, once again, shouted, “Crucify him!” And yesterday we sat in stunned quiet as we came to terms with the fact that Christ was indeed dead and buried. Dark days indeed.

But have you noticed that God seems to be most active and most present in the dark?

In the dark, God said, “Let there be light.”
In the dark days of Noah, God provided a mode of survival and a covenant of new life.
In the dark days of slavery, God raised up Moses and gave the Israelites the bright beacon of freedom. In the beginning, while it was dark, was the Word, and the darkness did not overcome it.
In the dark the women went to the tomb, but resurrection had already happened because the darkness could not contain the light of Christ.
Our service began in the dark, but the light of Christ shown forth and was not overcome.

These examples are important for both recognizing and proclaiming God.

On the one hand we recognize that God is the God of life and light. That is certainly true. But this can lead us to seeing God present only in the good times, only in times of light. If not challenged, it can lead to that pernicious interpretation that if you have the right type of faith God will reward you with health, wealth, and abundance.

But if we look closely, that's not how God acts, nor is it where God dwells most often. God dwells in the darkness because God's light cannot be overcome. If God weren't there, all would be dark and there would be no hope.

We experience dark days during the loss of a loved one. Whether a sudden death or an expected death, it doesn't matter; either way, death brings darkness into our lives. But the light of resurrection shines there and the darkness will be vanquished because that's where God dwells.

We live in dark days of financial instability or insecurity. We live in dark days of political turmoil. Our history is full of the dark days of slavery, oppression, and other injustices. We live in dark days of inequality and rising hatred of the Other. And we still live in dark days where some lives are more valuable than others. It's very apparent that we have a long way to go before reaching the light and fulfillment of God's kingdom.

It may seem that all is darkness. It may seem that all is lost. Sometimes that darkness and hopelessness overwhelms us and paralyzes us. That seems as likely an explanation for how the gospel story ends: So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

You can't really blame them. Not only did they live through the actual events of the first Holy Week and all that darkness, but now the body of their friend was gone.

What those women had yet to learn, at least in Mark's account, was that Jesus is the Son of God, the Second person of the Trinity, the God of light and life, and the God who dwells in the darkness, because it is there where he shines most brightly.

In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.”
In the darkness the fire is kindled.
Three times the procession stops and we proclaim, “The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God.
At the appropriate time we joyfully and loudly proclaimed, “Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” as candles and light burst forth to banish the darkness.

We all experience dark times. But know this – the God of life and light dwells in the darkness because it is there where the light of God shines brightest. That light shines in the darkness and it is not overcome.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

And the light was not overcome.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sermon; Holy Saturday 2018

Well that didn't go as planned.

Maybe we thought we were doing the right thing. Maybe we thought that if we did something – anything – to get Jesus to take a stand, it wouldn't have turned out this way. Maybe . . . maybe we just didn't anticipate how bad things would get.

But here we are having to deal with the fact that we betrayed Jesus into the hands of tyrants. Here we are having to deal with the fact that we are those tyrants. We are the ones who betrayed him. We are the ones who shouted, “Crucify him!”

Here we are in the calm after the storm. The crowds are gone. Jesus is dead. People are getting on with their lives. The only thing left for us to do is to contemplate what happened and try to figure out where we go from here. We have three choices.

First, we can spend our time mourning our loss. We can continually look backwards and mourn the loss of how things used to be. We can mourn our bad decisions and continually dwell in our sorrows. We can dwell in those sorrows to the point where nothing else matters. And we can come to the conclusion that if nothing else matters it's okay to give up. This is how Judas dealt with yesterday when he went and hanged himself.

Second, we can live in the here and now only. We can recognize that Jesus is dead, mourn his passing, and get on with our lives. In some sense, this is where we are. What was is gone, we only have today. As much as this is true, it can lead to a world with no hope. It can lead to a place where we only concentrate on today. This is how Peter dealt with yesterday when he said, “I'm going fishing.”

Third, we can live with the hope of the resurrection. We can mourn. We can recognize our part in this drama, this Passion. And we can understand that we, too, went to the grave only to find it empty. We can realize the tomb is empty and tell the others. This is how Mary and the other women dealt with these events.

On every grave stone there is a date of birth, a date of death, and a dash between them. We are living in the dash. And today, somewhere, someone is dealing with the death of a close friend.

We are like the disciples in that regard – we are dealing with the death of Jesus. Arrested, beaten, crucified, dead, and buried, today is a lonely day for us.

But unlike the disciples, we have the story. Whereas Saturday was a hopeless day for them, it can be a hopeful day for us. Yesterday is past, tomorrow is not promised, but in looking to tomorrow we have hope. We have hope that Jesus' words were true. We have hope in the resurrection. Hope, it would seem, is all we have.

As St. Paul wrote, in hope we were saved. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Hope is what will help get us through this day.

In some respects, today is like any other day in human history. People go about their business. Some are joyful. Some are sad. Some are having good days. Some are having bad days. Somewhere a child is born. Somewhere a person is laid to rest. Today we all live in the dash between birth and death. Yesterday is past. Tomorrow is not promised. There is only today.

But on this subdued day when we mourn the death of Jesus, let us live a life of hope. Let us live a day of hope. Let us offer a hopeful dash to the rest of the world.

On this day we can choose to live one of three ways: we can mourn the past and how things used to be, giving up on the future; we can live only focused on ourselves and today; or we can live today in the hope of the resurrection.

Regardless of which one you choose, know that every day is a dash. Live with a dash of mourning. Live with a dash of selfishness. Live with a dash of hope.

The choice is yours.


Sermon; Good Friday 2018

Last night was the beginning of the Triduum, the Great Three Days, that runs from Maundy Thursday to the Easter Vigil. Last night we betrayed Jesus for our own selfish desires. Last night we chose ourselves over Jesus and/or God. Last night, because we were so confident we were doing the right thing, we removed everything associated with God from our lives.

Our choice to remove God and Jesus from our lives comes from a place where we believe we have a better understanding of what needs to happen than he does. Because he really has no idea how the world works.

Jesus told us to love our neighbors. When asked to define “neighbor,” he told us a story about some foreigner. He's asking us to love foreigners. But foreigners are ruining this country. Foreigners are taking our jobs and leeching our public assistance dry. What we really need to do is to keep them out. We need to find a way to stop them at the border.

Jesus said for us to give to everyone who begs. He doesn't realize that people are poor because of their own bad decisions. If those people wouldn't spend what little money they do have on drugs or prostitutes or other useless things, they wouldn't be poor and wouldn't need to beg. If we keep giving them handouts, how will they ever learn personal responsibility? Or if they used half as much effort in getting a job as they do in begging, they wouldn't have to beg in the first place.

Jesus said if anyone strikes us we are to turn the other cheek. If that's so, how are we to protect ourselves? By doing that, every criminal will know that we are sitting ducks just begging to be attacked. We need to have the right to not only defend ourselves, but to strike first if we feel the least bit threatened. And we need to have the right to use any means necessary.

Jesus told us to share what we have with others. But again, this doesn't teach self-reliance but teaches the lazy to mooch off honest, hard working individuals. I work hard for what I get, and I earn every bit of it. We can't have lazy people being fed and clothed by those who work for what they get. Once word gets out, then nobody will want to work and everybody will expect a free handout. We need to keep what we earn for ourselves because there just isn't enough to go around.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Jesus is advocating for the disruption of society as we know it. If we actually followed what Jesus teaches . . . well . . . it'd be anarchy. People would expect free handouts. We would be inundated with foreigners and borders would be meaningless. There'd be total chaos because there isn't enough of everything to go around.

That's why we got rid of him. We need to have rules and accountability. We need to protect ourselves and our interests from those who would threaten our very way of life.

He wants us to submit to him like a peasant submits to a king. We have no king. Our king is the market. We have no king. Our king is our right to protect our interests at all costs. We have no king. We are the kings of our domain. We are the kings of our territory. We don't need this troublemaker in our lives. Crucify him.

We want to maintain the status quo. Crucify him. We want to maintain our privilege. Crucify him.

And with that, our betrayal is complete and we are left to our own devices.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Sermon; Maundy Thursday, 2018

Maundy Thursday 2018

The Triduum begins tonight. These are the three days from tonight through the Easter Vigil. It is one, sequential, and holistic liturgical event. And to rightly understand Easter, to rightly appreciate Easter, we must travel and participate in the events of these three days and in the totality of this liturgy.

One of the things we need to remember about this night is that the one who betrayed Jesus was no outsider. Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve chosen disciples to be part of Jesus' inner circle. Judas traveled with Jesus and learned from him. He was in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm. He went out with another disciple to preach, teach, and heal. Jesus washed his feet, and he was with them all as they ate the Passover meal.

We need to remember that Judas Iscariot to Jesus was not Snidely Whiplash to Dudley Do-right. Far from being the obvious bad guy that we can identify from the beginning, Judas was one of us.

This betrayal stuff, though, isn't always crystal clear. I have a feeling that we've all been on both sides of that act. I'd also be willing to bet that we only recognize one side.

I can recall one specific time in my life when I felt betrayed. I was trying to come up with a creative solution to a difficult problem and thought I had buy-in from all parties. That is, until one side realized that the suggested solution meant doing something no one had ever tried before; until they realized that trying the new way meant giving up their old way. The turnabout and abandonment was immediate. Years of building relationships were gone in one instant.

But the question hangs over me: Who betrayed whom? Did they betray me, or did I betray them? The answer to that question probably depends on who you ask.

I am not suggesting that Jesus betrayed his disciples. For one thing, betrayal is a sinful act based in selfishness. So even though we proclaim Jesus was fully human, we also avow that he was without sin. If anything, Jesus was guilty of not living up to the expectations his disciples had for him. But that's not a Jesus problem, that's our problem; especially since he was busy living up to God's expectations, not ours.

And really, isn't that the essence of betrayal – someone decides that someone else isn't living up to, or meeting, their expectations? The newly forming United States was not meeting personal expectations, so Benedict Arnold switched sides and betrayed the U.S. The story of The Falcon and the Snowman tells of espionage that began with one character becoming disillusioned with the U.S. Spouses betray each other because expectations are not being met. Judas betrays Jesus for the same reasons. We don't start out bad, but circumstances can push us that direction.

Betrayal is an act that we have probably all experienced. Sometimes we have been betrayed. And if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we have been the betrayer. Sometimes that is an obvious fit. Sometimes, though, we don't see it as betrayal but as a necessary act we were forced into; maybe even rationalizing that it is to stop something worse from happening, as Judas did.

Ultimately these actions stem from our own selfish desires. Tonight we come face to face with those actions and desires. Is the Church living up to our expectations? Is the Church meeting our needs? Does God live up to and meet our expectations and needs? Have we tried to live up to the expectations and needs of God and Church? Or do we think this is a one-way street that points only to us?

Tonight Judas leaves to go his own way. Tonight the disappointment at not having Jesus meet his expectations becomes too great and he decides to do something about it. Tonight is symbolic of us going our own way as well. Tonight is symbolic of our unmet expectations overwhelming us. Tonight we choose another path and remove Jesus from our lives, as represented by the stripping of the altar.

To co-opt a phrase from a song, tonight we shout out, “Who betrayed Jesus?” When after all, it was you and me.

In the liturgical cycle of the Triduum, this is the first act. And the actions of tonight will have terrible consequences.