William Wilberforce, 1759-1833

Excerpt from Ecclesia Anglicana April 2016 edition;

WHM146809 Portrait of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), 1794 (oil on canvas) by Hickel, Anton (1745-98)oil on canvas© Wilberforce House, Hull City Museums and Art Galleries, UKGerman, out of copyright

William Wilberforce was a British politician and philanthropist who from 1787 was prominent in the struggle to abolish the slave trade and then to abolish slavery itself in British overseas possessions. He studied at St. John’s College at the University of Cambridge, where he became a close friend of the future prime minister, William Pitt, and was known as an amiable companion rather than an outstanding student. In 1780, both he and Pitt entered the House of Commons, and he soon began to support parliamentary reform and Roman Catholic political emancipation. In 1787, Wilberforce helped to found a society for the “reformation of manners” called the Proclamation Society (to suppress the publication of obscenity) and the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the latter more commonly called the Anti-Slavery Society. In 1789, he introduced 12 resolutions against the slave trade and gave what many newspapers at the time considered among the most eloquent speeches ever delivered in the Commons. The resolutions were supported by Pitt (who was by then prime minister), Charles Fox (Often an opponent of Pitt’s), and Edmund Burke, but they failed to be enacted into law, and instead the issue was postponed until the next Parliament. In 1791, he again brought a motion to the House of Commons to abolish the slave trade, but it was defeated 163 to 88. For the next 15 years, Wilberforce was able to achieve little progress toward ending the slave trade (in part because of the domestic preoccupation with the war against Napoleon). In 1807, however, he finally achieved success: on Feb. 23, 1807, a bill to abolish the slave trade in the British West Indies was carried in the Commons 283 to 16, and it became law on march 25th. The 1807 statute did not, however, change the legal position of persons enslaved before its enactment. In 1823, he aided in organizing and became a vice president of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions, again, more commonly called the Anti-Slavery Society. Turning over to Buxton the parliamentary leadership of the abolition movement, he retired from the House of Commons in 1825. On July 26, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the Commons (it became law the following month); three days later Wilberforce died. He was interred at Westminster Abbey.

What are “Last Rites?”

Last RitesSunday evening I received a call from the Riverside Walter Reed Chaplain. There was a Roman Catholic man there dying, wishing to receive Last Rites. I was available and able to visit with a family I’d never met, and may not see again.

I’ve received similar calls in the past, people wishing to see a priest either due to their illness, or imminent death. Answering these calls is not morbid. In answering the call, I am able to share God’s mercy and love to people in dire need, and I am greatly appreciative to our Lord for first calling me to this office.

You may ask, “Well, Father Kevin, isn’t ‘Last Rites’ a Roman Catholic ritual? Why are you, an Anglican Priest, doing giving Last Rites? More importantly, why do that at all? Where are Last Rites in the Bible?” I hear your questions frequently, and I’d venture a guess that some of you may have those, and other questions for me, if you knew I was performing Last Rites for people outside our Church.

Last Rites are nothing more that the three Sacraments of the Church that are appropriate for a person approaching death. These are first Confession and Absolution, second Holy Unction, and finally Viaticum (From Latin, “Provision for the journey.”) or Holy Communion.

The Sacrament of Confession and Absolution are based on the Scripture John 20:19-22. Jesus said, to the Apostles;

Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.

God wishes reconciliation with us, that is why Jesus, the Word of God, was sent into the world. God became a part of His own creation and became a sacrifice for our sin on the cross (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life Jn 3:16). The word of the priest does not supplant the work of Christ on the Cross, rather the pronunciation of God’s forgiveness (It is God who forgives sins and not man) to the penitent is a reminder of God’s grace and the forgiveness of sins. I can only imagine the comfort that a person waiting on death feels when they know that our Lord Jesus loves them, wants to be with them forever, and forgives them of whatever may have separated them in the past.

St. James Parishioners will recognize the second Rite, that is Holy Unction. We just finished a study of James Epistle and you may remember the scripture, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (Jas 5:14).” The sick are prayed over and anointed with oil by the priest using the prayers found on page 320 of the Prayer Book.

Finally, Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord are administered to the dying to give them food for their journey from this life into the next. Our Lord Jesus said,

I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. Jn 6:48-50 & 54

In confessing sin, believing, and receiving Jesus, the dying (which we all are, just at different rates, and at differing times) receive eternal life.

I could tell that the couple, indeed, the family I met Sunday, followed in God’s grace for years. The husband and wife were married for nearly six decades, and they still shared kind affection one for another. The life of Christ enlivened their marriage, just as assuredly as it livens those who follow Jesus after their bodily death.

Jesus wants us every day, for eternity, and not just on our last days in this life. The Sacraments of Confession and Absolution, Holy Unction, and our Lord’s Supper are available to us now, and any day, so that we may receive God’s forgiveness, healing, and life. We need not confess to a priest to receive forgiveness, or be anointed with oil in order to be healed. We do receive in those Sacraments, however, the grace and reassurance that God does indeed forgive sins and provide healing. I invite you to participate in the life of the Body of Christ, not just so that you may receive the benefits of this participation (which includes eternal life), but so that you may also work to build God’s Kingdom, beginning in this life. Kevin+

 

 

Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles

StsSimonJude3 Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone (Ephesians 2:19)

October 28th is the Feast Day for St. Simon & St. Jude, Apostles and I’ll give a little history on both Apostles.

Simon is called Simon Zelotes, Simon the Zealot, in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. He was one of the most obscure among the Apostles. Little is recorded of him aside from his name.

The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the synoptic gospels and Acts that give a list of apostles without further details about him.

Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas, the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16, RSV)
We also know little about St. Jude the Apostle. “Jude of James” is only mentioned twice in the New Testament: in the lists of apostles in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, “Jude of James” is ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James. Such a construction commonly denotes a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as “Jude, brother of James”.

The John 14:22 mentions a disciple called “Judas not Iscariot”. This is generally accepted to be the same person as the apostle Jude. In some Latin manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, Jude is called Judas the Zealot. St. Jude is also traditionally recognized as the author the General Epistle of Jude.

According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, Lebanon together with the Apostle Simon the Zealot, that is why their feast day is connected together.

St. Simon and St. Jude were Apostles and as such are part of the foundation on which the Church stands. Of those who belong to the Church, Paul says that we who have come to Christ are no more strangers and foreigners. Paul uses three analogies in the Epistle reading to describe this relationship.

First, Paul says that we are “fellow citizens with God’s people.” We have entered a new kingdom. We have changed our citizenship and now we are under another authority. We take for granted the rights of American citizenship so much that we have almost forgotten the fact that we are under authority. The government has certain powers over us. We are under authority. That is the first mark of citizenship.

The thing that makes us rejoice in our citizenship is that we have certain privileges. In the kingdom of God we have the protection of a King. There is power available there, the power to raise us from the dead. That kind of power works beyond human thinking and planning. God invites us to call upon Him for that kind of resource, whenever we need it.

Second, we are “members of God’s household.” This is an advance on the first point. We are members of God’s own family. This is the great truth that Paul is trying to bring home to our hearts, which is that we have access to a Father who is the King.

Third, Paul goes on to describe an even closer relationship: you are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Perhaps that seems something of an anticlimax. As an analogy, a building is rather cold and impersonal compared with the relationship of a family, but in the structure of a building, no separation of stones that make up the walls is possible. If the stones are separated, the building crumbles. This analogy hints at the closeness of the structures in the kingdom. It also speaks to the strength of the structure with Christ being the very stone that holds it all together.

Always remember the sacrifice of those who helped build Christ’s Church, men like St. Simon & St. Jude. Remember that you are under authority, belong to a family, and a building, a holy temple which is not of this world. Your citizenship is in Heaven with Jesus and His Saints, so do as Our Lord Commands. Love your neighbor, even though he may persecute you. Finally, pray that God will join you to His Holy Temple, through the unity of the Spirit.

 

Implications of Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven

Ilya_Repin_Last_Supper_700It is now the end of the short season of the Ascension. On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples;

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning (John15:26 & 27).

Jesus tells His disciples to look ahead into the future, “When the Comforter is come.” This text  is from Christ’s farewell address to the Disciples at the Last Supper called the Last Discourse. It spans from John chapters 14 through 17. One of the main purposes of His address is to tell them that He is going to go away from them.

 
On Ascension Day, Jesus told the Apostles to pray for the Holy Ghost to come down. We know the Holy Ghost arrives on Pentecost. Anglicans call this day Whitsunday, named for the white garments worn by those who were baptized on that day.

 
In the Last Discourse, Jesus says that when the Holy Ghost has come He will, “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.” He will show the world that it was wrong about what is right.
Dosso_Dossi_The_Ascension

 

The world thought Jesus was wrong, so the world killed him. Jesus’ Ascension proves that He was right, when He, “…goes to the Father, and they see him no more.” Who could possibly rise from the earth and enter the cloud of the presence of the Almighty except God Himself? If the one who went up is God Himself, then He must be right after all. Since He is right, we should pay attention to what He says.

 
The Proper Preface for the octave points to a second implication for the Ascension. It says that Jesus “…after his most glorious resurrection manifestly appeared to all his Apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven, to prepare a place for us.” That is an allusion to yet another part of Jesus’ farewell address. He says as a matter of introduction of the discourse to the apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not true, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-2).”

 
Those are comforting words. Jesus tells us that one major purpose of His Ascension is to get our places in Heaven ready. We don’t know exactly when He will return. We know from the first chapter of Acts, when the apostles asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power (Acts 1:6 & 7).” We know that if He bothers to go to Heaven to get our places ready, we can be confident that He will come back to get us. He will come back and take us to those heavenly places where we can be with Him forever.

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

Another purpose of the Ascension of Christ that we typically don’t consider is the completion the cycle of Old Testament sacrifice. God told the Hebrews to sacrifice animals as thank offerings for delivery from the slavery of Egypt and as propitiatory offerings to take away sins. The most important sacrifice came once a year, when the high priest carried the blood of the atonement offering into the Holy of Holies in the Temple at Jerusalem.

 
The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the Holy of Holies in the Temple was just an earthly shadow of the real Holy of Holies which is the throne room of God in Heaven. It says, “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:24).”

 
In His Ascension, Jesus presents God with the blood of His sacrifice of Himself, just as the high priest presented the blood of the atonement offering. Jesus is both the priest and the victim. He is both the one who offers, the Great High Priest, and He is the sacrifice, the one who is offered. His sacrifice is perfect and not repeatable. God requires no more blood sacrifices.

 
In the Creed we say that Jesus is sitting down at God’s right hand. He can sit down. His priestly work is done. He doesn’t have to stand at any sort of altar. He pleads His sacrifice for us as our mediator and advocate, “…we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14).”

 
Jesus-coming-in-cloudsAs we look forward to Pentecost, and as we look farther into the future toward Jesus’ return, our hearts need not be troubled. Instead, we should rejoice in Christ’s glorious Ascension. He has shown the world who is really right. He finished His sacrificial work as our great High Priest. He has gone back to Heaven to get our places ready, and He will come again.

Lesson from the Fourth Sunday after Easter

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

This week we look forward to the Ascension of Christ and Pentecost. The Epistle, Gospel and Collect show us that it is by God’s grace that we can prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Collect approaches God as the One “Who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men…” In the Epistle, we hear that, “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights….” The gift of the Holy Spirit is possible because Jesus, as He states in John 16, “goes away” to heaven. There, Jesus presents Himself to the Father and then the Father then turn gives all things to the Son.
In the Creed, we confess that Jesus “ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Being seated at the right hand of the Father means that Jesus is in a place of authority. In Ephesians, St. Paul explains the import of the Ascension: “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things (Eph 4:8).”
Jesus alluded to the time when He would sit at His Father’s right hand time in his prayer to His Father in John 17, “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made (John 17:4, 5).” It is Jesus’ return to glory that makes the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost possible
It must have startled the disciples when Jesus told them He was going away and that it was better for them if He went away. We should be startled as well if we contemplate what Jesus is saying. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus were bodily, visibly present with us here today? His presence would seem to solve a host of issues, however, the Holy Spirit Jesus sends us is everywhere, wherever “two or three are gathered together in his name.” It is through the Holy Spirit that our Lord is with his Church always, “even unto the end of the world.” He could in His Spirit be with all believers, at all places, and in all times to prepare them for his second bodily coming, at the Last Day.
This week, let us pray that by the Spirit’s guidance, the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” may mold our “unruly wills and affections” and ready us for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Finding Joy In Shattered Expectations

Emmaus Road

Emmaus Road

We are accustomed to think of Easter as the most joyous of festivals, and certainly all the texts of today’s liturgy, and all the Easter hymns, fill our mouths with words of rejoicing:

Sunday, I discussed the first Easter. It was a distressing day for Jesus disciples. When you read the Gospel accounts, you see the immediate response of the disciples was fear and despair, rather than joy.

Consider the account of the two walking sorrowfully along the Emmaus road. A stranger joined them as they walked and asked them what it was that they were talking about so sadly. They told him about Jesus’ death and the empty tomb. “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done (Jn 24:21).” They were blinded by their grieving, and did not recognize that the stranger who walked with them was the Risen Lord. “O slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken (Lk 24:25)!”

Does their blindness surprise you? Consider what had happened. The death of Jesus upon the cross spelled the end of his followers’ hopes. The triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the prior week The triumphant procession into the Holy City only a week before where Jesus was hailed as the Messiah by the crowds must have seemed like a farce following his death on Calvary. A week after this apparent triumph, Jesus was executed, dead, and buried. How could this be the Messiah? Even worse, the body was now gone.

This made no sense to the disciples, so they were disappointed, afraid, and they ran away and hid. They were unable to see beyond their own broken dreams and expectations. “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel (Lk 24:21).” The disciples followed and heard Jesus. They heard him speak of his dying, and rising again. They heard him speak of his kingdom, a kingdom quite unlike earthly kingdoms. Despite this, it was impossible for the disciples to see beyond their own hopes, ambitions and expectations, even when Jesus was still with them. In Jesus, they were sure, they had found the leader who would restore Israel to its ancient glory.

They could not comprehend that God’s redemption could be something greater than their own hopes. They experienced the loss of their hopes, the pains of travail. It took the ruination of their expectations to open their eyes to God’s new way of living. It was only by sharing in Jesus’ death that they could share in his new life.

God does not support us in our own limited expectations. God makes all things new. Jesus says there is no new birth without the pains of travail (Mt 24:8).

All of us have make plans, and we own our ambitions. Each of us expects certain things out of life and each other. We feel frustration when our expectations go unfulfilled. “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel (Lk 24:21).” We make plans and we expect God to support us in those plans. Who knows better than we what God ought and ought not to do? We are disappointed when things do not go our own way, and sometimes we worry and despair.

That is wrong-headed. The truth is that if we are to live, we must first die.
St. Paul said, “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3).” “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die…” says Jesus, “it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit (Jn 12:24).” God brings resurrection out of death.

When we gain freedom from the bondage of our empty vain ambitions, we become heirs to God’s new kingdom. Bread becomes the bread of life after it is broken. Wine outpoured becomes for us the cup of blessings. God makes the world out of nothing. Before God made the world it was “Tohu wa bohu,” formless and void (Gn 1:2). God created the world from nothing and so he makes life from death. That transformations is painful and simultaneously awesome.

So when we come to God, we do not come to him asking for support in our own little things. No, we come to God for resurrection. As the passage from Revelation states, God makes all things new.

So now, during this Eastertide, we must sing our praises to God; to Jesus who died, and now lives together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. To God the Holy Trinity be all honour, praise and dominion, now, henceforth and for ever. Amen.

Holy Week and Our Betrayal of Christ

Palm SundayHoly Week is a week about our betrayals of Christ and our betrayals of each other. Judas’ kiss epitomizes this betrayal. We are all complicit in that kiss. We all betray Christ in some fashion.

Thankfully, there is mercy, the mercy of Christ that overcomes the betrayal of our hearts. The victory of the resurrection overcomes the betrayers’ kiss.

We need Holy Week to face the vision of ourselves as Christ’s betrayer. This week, we cannot cast an accusatory finger at someone else. We must point that finger at ourselves. We are not spectators of the Christ’s Passion, we are actors within the drama of salvation.

Palm Sunday the message was, “Hosanna too the Son of David; blessed is he who cometh in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest (Mt 21:9),” as the St. James worshippers processed from the Glebe house to the chapel. Shortly thereafter, the message from the Gospel repeatedly insisted, “Crucify him, Crucify him (Mt. 27:22).”

Jesus ScourgedSunday we celebrated Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he will be betrayed into the hands of sinful men. There he will be spitefully treated. He will be spat upon. He will be mocked, beaten, crucified, and he will die. We are there, like the people in the crowd. We, humanity are on display in all our ugliness.

We have all betrayed Christ. That is central to our understanding of Holy Week. “All we like sheep have gone astray (Is 53:6).” We must ask ourselves as did the disciples in the Upper Room with Jesus, “Is it I Lord?” “Am I the one who will betray you?” We must realize that you and I have betrayed God and one another. In our sin, we betray the truth and goodness of God and apart from God, there is no truth or goodness in us.

Our betrayal of Christ is made visible to us in Christ’s crucifixion. The point of the whole matter is to move us toward penitence. In our penitence, God moves us toward love. We become new beings in Christ that serves God with a heart of gratitude.

I am certain that many people will read this and deny that betray Christ. People believe that they are good people, that they are nice people and quite unlike the people who Crucified Jesus.

Well my friends and parishioners, if you think that, you are wrong. Every human being is implicated in Christ’s crucifixion by our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Jesus CrucifiedYou and I are guilty of the blood of Christ through our betrayals, but God is merciful. Jesus turns our condemnation into joy. Jesus suffers our betrayal in his death on the cross, but then he rises from the dead. He comes to reconcile himself with us.

This week, contemplate your betrayal, but accept Christ’s offer of reconciliation. Humble yourself. Admit your sin, then accept Christ’s love and forgiveness. Trust in Jesus’ promises. Believe that like him, you too will one day rise from the dead and live forever in Paradise.

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; A Christological Celebration of The Incarnation

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

In 692 AD, the council of Trullo, the Eastern Church set the date for the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary as March 25th. The dates relates to the dating of Christmas on December 25th. Today, March 25th, is nine months before Christmas, our Lord’s nativity.
The word “annunciation” is the anglicized form of the Latin Annuntiatio nativitatis Christi, or the announcement of the nativity of Christ, which you find in Luke 1:26-38. The festival celebrates the proclamation by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yehoshua, which means”YHWH is salvation”. Jesus was named correctly; he is the way of salvation. “Jesus saith… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).”
The passage from Luke gives the beautiful account of Gabriel’s appearance to Mary. The passage, does not focus on the words of the angel to Mary as much as on the character of Mary herself. Mary asks the angel, “But how shall these things be?” Gabriel responds, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in they womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” Mary asked how this could be, for she was a virgin. Gabriel responded to her that the Holy Ghost would come upon her and she would bear a son who shall be called the Son of God. Mary responded by saying, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect example of a humble acceptance of God’s favor. She trusts in God and is obedient to His will. Mary is the icon of the self-giving response of humankind to God’s redeeming purpose. Romano Guardini, one of the most important Catholic writers and thinkers of the 20th century said of Mary, “No one is like her, because what happened to her happened to no other human being.”
The Annunciation is a festival of our Lord Jesus Christ; a Holy Day celebrates the Incarnation of our Lord. Today, we celebrate a jewel in the midst of our Lenten fast. We celebrate the day that, “…the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Let us remember the incredible grace given to us freely. Let us return thanks by living lives of humility and obedience. Lives that duplicate the trust and obedience to God’s will, shown us by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Heavenly Jerusalem

The Heavenly JerusalemThe heavenly Jerusalem is our spiritual home. On earth, the Church is Jerusalem, nourished by God (Rev. 12:6). When our Lord returns, the Church will be the bride of Christ, the holy city, the New Jerusalem, descending upon a new earth for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 21:1, 19:7).

In comparison, the earthly city is perverted by the pride of life (Gal. 4:25 and Rev. 17:1-6). The pride of life is defined as an unwillingness to acknowledge God’s authority over Creation. Instead, the earthly city tries to subvert God’s will with its own. Subverting God’s will for one’s own was Jesus’ third temptation. Jesus was tempted by the devil’s offer of worldly glory. Such a temptation excludes God. Jesus’ answered the devil’s offer with the words, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Mt. 4:10),” and those are words we ourselves must heed, lest we fall to this temptation.

Thanks to God we are not citizens of the earthly city, but of the city of God. We share in the marriage supper of the Lamb. In the Eucharist, we receive a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. That is the point of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 in the wilderness. Jesus is the true bread come down from heaven. If you eat this bread, you will live forever (John 6:51). That meal and our Lord’s Supper anticipate the banquet in the coming kingdom.

The Gospel lesson for Lent III (Lk. 11: 14-28) warned us not to be satisfied that our souls are clear of demons and empty of faith in God. Absent Jesus in our hearts, sin returns and we are in a worse state than before. We must fill our souls with Jesus, the bread of life. He is present to us in Word and Sacrament. Jesus refreshes us so that we may follow him to Jerusalem.

Finally, my friends, as I shared on Sunday, the Parish is the outpost of the true Jerusalem on earth. The Church’s task is to mother those who belong to Christ, with word, sacrament, discipline, and teaching; to rebuke and cast out demons, and to nourish souls. That is bread in the wilderness. Find your refreshment here, and invite others to the feast.