Tag Archives: Easter

Christ is Risen—-SO WHAT?

Preached on the Third Sunday of Easter at St. Matthew & St. Timothy Church, New York City

For three Sundays now, we have been hearing stories of resurrection. Easter stories. Stories of Jesus’ friends responding to the mind-blowing reality of a resurrected Christ.

First we hear from the two Mary’s at the tomb. Together they go to the place where Jesus was buried, only to find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and an angel of the Lord indicating that Jesus has up and moved on to Galilee. Always going places, that Jesus. Can’t keep him down. The women are terrified! Not only is their friend missing from the place where they laid him, but their world is surely turned upside down and inside out, if what the angel says is true and Jesus has beat death after having been dead.

Then we hear from our doubting friend Thomas. I don’t know about you, but Thomas’ story always makes me feel a little better about myself. Like me on some days, Thomas has his doubts. And yet he is still counted among the faithful disciples of Jesus, and he even gets a whole story dedicated to his stubbornness as Jesus appears specifically to him saying, put your fingers in my wounds and your hand in my gaping side. And as Mother Carla reminded us last week, it is because Thomas doubts that he is later able to exclaim with confidence, “My Lord and my God!”

That brings us to this week. This week we’re on the road to Emmaus with Cleopas and his friend—both followers of Jesus. They seem to spend the whole day with an unrecognizable Jesus, who unpacks the scriptures for them and calls them “fools” just like in the good old days. It is not until Jesus breaks bread with them that they recognize him—and then he disappears. We sing about this at Eucharist sometimes: “The disciples knew the Lord Jesus/in the breaking of the bread.” And then they turn to each other and say, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Aw, man! How could we be so dense!

Each of these vignettes speaks to our persistent and exuberant proclamation throughout the fifty days of Easter:

Alleluia! Christ has Risen!

The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Only, the responses of Mary, Thomas and Cleopas don’t really resonate with our weekly exclamations. If you were to say to any of these followers, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” They would likely respond: “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you sure? Oh. My. God.”

And if we really take seriously Mother Carla’s weekly exclamations, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” Perhaps before we can say, “The Lord is risen indeed,” we, like the disciples, need to ask: Wait… what?

What do our lives look like after Easter? And I don’t just mean, well now we have eternal life thanks to Jesus’ victory over death, though that truth clearly has massive implications of its own. No, I mean what is the impact of a risen Christ today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. What does Easter look like in my everyday life right now.

Christ is risen. So what?

Christ is risen. What now?

Like Mary and Mary at the empty tomb, we need to take a moment to realize, with trembling even, that our world has been turned upside down. Death doesn’t mean what it used to. The God we worship is more powerful than any “end” or “finality” death once represented. And nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death. Jesus has changed the world and there’s no going back.

And like Thomas poking Jesus’ wounds, we need to spend some time contemplating just how crazy this idea is. Rather than just accept the resurrection as if it’s simply an event we remember every Easter, we need to grapple with the unbelievable implications of Jesus returning from the dead with wounded hands, feet and side. And then believe it. We have to name our doubts before we can proclaim the mystery of our faith.

And finally, like Cleopas on the way to Emmaus, we need to be continually schooled by Jesus while our hearts burn within us.

Only then can we begin to live into the everyday reality of life after Easter. Only then can we live our lives as people who begin to comprehend the significance of a resurrected Jesus.

Peter tells us that it’s through Jesus we come to trust in God. It’s through our fear, doubt, wonder and celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead that we find faith and set our hope on God.

And it’s in response to that truth that we have what Peter calls “genuine mutual love,” so that we can “love one another deeply from the heart.”

This is what the every day Easter life looks like. This is what it looks like to be “born anew,” having received the Holy Spirit after Christ’s death and resurrection. First comes the trust in God; then comes the genuine love. First comes the grappling with fear, doubt and wonder so that we can believe the unbelievable with courage and conviction; then comes a love that is equally courageous and life changing.

And you know what I’ve discovered here at St. Matthew and St. Timothy? That just as courageous faith makes for genuine love, so does genuine love make for courageous faith. I know this because the love you have shown me over the past two years here has given me a new boldness and courage in proclaiming my faith in Jesus—in English and Spanish. This post-resurrection-Easter-courageous-genuine-love is life changing stuff—and I know that because your love has changed my life.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

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Pies desnudos: a Bilingual Maundy Thursday Sermon

Preached at The Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy in New York City on Maundy Thursday, 2013. 

LectionaryExodus 12:1-4, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35.

Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

I’m always a little uneasy about Maundy Thursday services because I know what’s coming: foot washing.  Oh, the humility!  To let someone wash my feet!  So embarrassing. 

Peter says to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” 

Why is it so hard for us to let others serve us?

Pedro le dijo: “¡Jamás permitiré que me laves los pies!”

Respondió Jesús: “Si no te los lavo, no podrás ser de los míos.”

Siempre estoy un poco nerviosa en los servicios de Jueves Santo porque ya sé lo que viene: lavatorio de pies. ¡La humildad!  No quiero que alguien lave mis pies!  Que vergüenza.

Pedro le dijo: “¡Jamás permitiré que me laves los pies!”

¿Por qué es tan difícil dejar que otros nos sirvan?

When Jay and I were married, we carefully selected hymns that we felt would be important to our relationship moving forward.  The hymn we most loved started with the following words:

Brother, sister, let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I may have the grace

to let you be my servant too.

I need prayers and grace to let you serve me.  Why?

Cuando Jay y yo nos casamos, nosotros seleccionamos con cuidado cada himno pensando en lo que sería importante para nuestro futuro juntos.  El himno que nos gustó más tiene este verso:

Hermano, hermana, déjame servirle

Déjame ser como Cristo es a usted.

Ora que yo pueda tener la gracia

De Dejarle a usted ser mi siervo también.

Yo necesito oraciones y gracia para que alguien pueda servirme—por qué?

To let you serve me requires a bit more humility and intimacy than we’re used to in today’s society. 

We are taught to be independent.  Self-sufficient.  Strong. 

To bear my feet.  To make myself vulnerable.  To let you wash away my dirt and smell.  There’s no room for pride in that! 

Para dejar a alguien que me sirva requiere un poco más humildad e intimidad que lo que estamos acostumbrados en la sociedad de hoy.

La sociedad dice que debemos ser independientes.  Autosuficientes.  Fuertes.

Para enseñar mis pies.  Para ser vulnerable.  Para dejarle a alguien lavar mi suciedad y olor.  ¡No hay lugar para orgullo en esto!


We are used to sitting on buses and subways pressed up against each other without ever making eye contact.  We have conversations over text messages, emails and facebook without ever having to listen to another’s voice.  We insulate ourselves from the world around us, making sure we look busy and put together at all times, always putting our best foot forward, always playing to our strengths. 

But to strip away those layers of technology, appearance, expectations and social pressures.  To let you see my weaknesses.  My naked feet.  That seems a little too close for comfort in this day and age. 

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 

Estamos acostumbrados a sentarnos en los autobuses y trenes apretados unos contra otros sin contacto visual.  Tenemos conversaciones sobre mensajes de texto, email y Facebook sin escuchar la voz de un amigo.  Nos aislamos del mundo, asegurándonos que parecemos ocupados y bien preparados, siempre poniendo el mejor pie adelante, siempre demostrando nuestras fuerzas.

Pero para quitar cosas de tecnología, apariencia, expectaciones sociales.  Para dejarle ver mis debilidades.  Mis pies desnudos.  Eso me parece incomodo.

Respondió Jesús: “Si no te los lavo, no podrás ser de los míos.”

I looked up the Greek word for “share” used in John’s Gospel: μέρος (meros).  It means portion or part.  Jesus invites us to share in his ministry, to share in serving the world and in sharing God’s love.  But I can’t do my part unless I take off my “shoes” and let Jesus wash me.  I need God to love me so I can share God’s love.  I need Jesus to teach me so I can teach others.  I need people to pray for me so I can pray for the world. 

And all of this requires me to strip myself of my ego, my safety net, my distractions, my anger, and tonight my shoes—and to be served.  If I allow myself to be open to service, if I pray for the grace to let you serve me, then I’ll know what I’m asking of you when I say, “Brother, sister, let me serve you.”

Jesús nos invita a compartir en su ministerio, compartir sirviendo al mundo, compartir el amor de Dios.  Pero no puedo hacer mi parte si no me quito mis “zapatos” y dejar que Jesús lave mis pies.  Necesito que Dios me ame para que pueda compartir el amor de Dios.  Necesito que Jesús me enseñe para que yo también pueda enseñar.  Necesito que otros oren por mí para que yo pueda orar por el mundo.

Y todo esto demanda que quite mi ego, mi seguridad, mis distracciones, mi ira, y esta noche mis zapatos—para ser servida.  Si permito ser servida, si pido a Dios por la gracia de dejarle servirme, quizás sabré lo que pido cuando le digo, “hermano, hermana, déjenme servirle.”

I’m taking a class on addiction right now, and one of the requirements is to attend several 12-step meetings.  The people in the AA meeting I attended last week understand what it is to share.  Again and again I listened to people share their stories, and then to say, “it helps me to share this with you.”  And many people listening would follow up saying, “it helps me to hear your story.” The meeting was a constant give-and-take of serving and being served. 

I think the reason this works so well in AA is that every person who walks in that room has to check their pride at the door.  When you introduce yourself, you share your name, and then you name your weakness.  It’s not, “I’m Jack, and I’m an awesome father.”  Or “I’m Sally, and I’m a successful lawyer.”  But, “I’m Alex, and I’m an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a gambler, or an over-eater, or a sex addict.”  It’s as if they say their name and take off their shoes in the same breath.

Una de mis clases es sobre la adicción, y uno de los requisitos es asistir a varias reuniones de 12-pasos.  La gente en la reunión de AA que asistí la semana pasada entiende lo que es compartir.  Varias personas comparten sus historias, y luego dicen, “me ayuda compartir esto con ustedes.”  Y algunas responden, “me ayuda a conocer su historia.”  La reunión era una constante toma y da de servir y ser servido.

Creo que la razón por la cual esto funciona bien en AA es que cada persona que entra a la reunión tiene que dejar su orgullo en la puerta.  Cuando se presenta, dice su nombre, y dice su debilidad.  No es, “Me llamo Jack, y soy un padre increíble,” o “Me llamo Sally, y soy abogado con éxito.”  No es esto.  Pero, “Me llamo Alex, y soy alcohólico.”  Es como si dicen su nombre y quitan sus zapatos al mismo tiempo.

Peter said to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

May we all take off our shoes tonight, whether they be shoes of pride or of fear or shame or loneliness.  May we take off our shoes and be washed by Christ’s love and be fed by Christ’s feast so that we too may share in Christ’s ministry.

Pedro le dijo: “¡Jamás permitiré que me laves los pies!”

Respondió Jesús: “Si no te los lavo, no podrás ser de los míos.”

Que zapatos nuestros quitamos esta noche, ya sean zapatos de orgullo, o de miedo, de vergüenza o soledad.  Que quitemos nuestros zapatos y seamos lavados por el amor de Cristo y seamos alimentados por la fiesta de Cristo para que también nosotros podamos compartir en el ministerio de Cristo.


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