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*choose Easter Day Sermon- If you prefer use this text to follow along while you listen.
Easter Day 2019
In all of the Gospels, this is how Easter begins: after the sabbath, in the twilight before dawn, on a path to an open grave. In John, there is one lone figure picking her solitary way through the dark. The woman is Mary Magdalene. What she does or doesn’t carry with her is left to the imagination, as are her reasons for rising before the others do this alone. In all of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, much is left to our imagination. Here in the Easter garden, we find absent the kind of details that fill the birth and death narratives. As NT Wright, the English bishop and theologian notes, details (and chronological narrative itself) give way to sparsity and open-endedness. In the words of NT Wright: “After the birth and death narratives, the resurrection narratives convey the naked feeling of a solo flute piping a new melody after the orchestra has fallen silent.” The evangelists understood how the void of the tomb necessarily opened a new void in speech. Would that the organized church that came after had preserved these first silences rather than filling them in with explanation. Such is our madness to fashion, formalize and finalize meaning, we nearly squelch the divine mystery with doctrine and dogma.We would do well to ponder the words of Isaiah: “See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. Just as there were many who were astonished at him – so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals, so shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see; and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.” We would do well to remain stupefied by the whole thing.
Even the image of this solitary woman picking her way along the dark path will be reconstructed and defined by the church to come. Though the Bible is silent about WHY she once sought Jesus’ forgiveness as she washed his feet with her tears and hair, Pope Gregory the Great, some five hundred years later, will name her as the fallen woman, and her sin, prostitution. She will be painted throughout the Western world accordingly. There will be other paintings –though less prominent - depicting her on this morning: the Nolo me Tangere paintings, “touch me not.” Over the centuries, theologians will return to this scene again and again, trying to decipher the significance of its strange features, and of the days that follow. Some of them will frame chronological endings that are largely left missing. There is no consensus about how long he was with them before he withdrew; John leaves open the possibility that he walked and talked with him both before and after ascending to Heaven, which leaves open the he is still talking and walking among us and the resurrection is not a chronological event. If this is so, our own eye witness of the resurrection might be in the very liminal spaces that have opened in its wake, as we see them now, and as we know them from the witness of Mary and the others. They are thebetwixt and between spaces; the pre-twilight between sealed tomb and open grave, the murky space where trauma meets grace, the intermediary darkness of the tomb before time and space suddenly collapsed into one emptiness; the liminal nature of his scarred body rising from death, disaster and redemption bound up in its form.
There is silence instead of speech about why Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener, silence instead of speech about why she recognizes him. Oddly she is not to touch him, equally odd is his explanation about why she can’t – it’s not really an explanation. No explanation about why he will later ASK them to touch the strangeness of the body he inhabits, “touch me and see,” we hear him say before he requests a breakfast of broiled fish. “A ghost does not have flesh and bones,” he tells them, even though he has just appeared to them out of nowhere. We feel we would have reacted the same when John tells us what they felt in this moment: joy, disbelief, and wonder. We hear his friends cry out in recognition and we feel that, had we been in that liminal space with them, we too would have believed. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke?” They had reflected, and we are made to feel we would have recognized him had we been on the road to Emmaus, if only because our hearts burn today at the telling of it all.
Our hearts burn within us because, from our tiny little speck of the cosmos where we inhabit and are inhabited by time and space, we have moments where the scales of time and space fall from our own eyes and we see with startling clarity. For some time, one of you told me, I had been struggling hard with the relationship between faith and works. Driving at highway speed, I was listening to a radio preacher whose text that hour was Ephesians. He read the passage that goes something like, "...do those good works that God has prepared for you...." So, whatever works I might attempt have their origin not in me but with God. A sensation that I can't describe swept through my entire body. I looked out of the car window and felt my vision was resolving every leaf on every tree with crystal clarity, although I was driving at 70 miles an hour. I almost pulled over to the side of the highway, but the episode passed. We know what it means that time and language will always collapse in the void of the tomb, where our attention is jolted upward and outward as we see, even if fleetingly, with crystal clarity.
It is in us to see what Mary sees. A pile of linen wrappings on the floor of a tomb where there is no body of any kind, the length of the floor where the body was laid, marked by two angels: an angel where the head would have been and an angel were the feet would have been.Better for us to disregard the doctors of science and doctors of theology who, centuries later, will heap upon this bare floor explanations that would have mystified even the angels. We see how this empty space the size of a body is engulfed by the greater empty space of the tomb, and howaround and above the tomb, an even greater space has opened as far as the eye can see. Let these spaces stay forever empty and open, because this garden and our sense of reality is now emptied of all that we thought we knew. Mary is utterly disoriented and rattled by what she is beginning to feel but can’t name, and our hearts are burning, too, for we are standing on a site where heaven and earth have ruptured open into each other. We hear him say her name aloud, we watch the amazement on her face as she recognizes that this living stranger is her dead friend, and we see what she sees with our own startling clarity: that they are the same man. Do we really need to explain it? If we had had an explanation, would we buy it?
Two weeks ago, another of you told me about your experience of chronos (chronological, sequential time) and Kairos (the indeterminate time in which everything happens at once):the distinction between Kairos and chronos was erased,” you said “and the distinction between ‘I' and 'Thou' and 'Other' was no longer operative, the grain of sand, me, the ocean, the sun, the whole length and breadth of the universe was in some way all united in a single, undifferentiated whole. Even life and death and eternal resurrection, I knew, were utterly and simultaneously the same thing with no intertwining, no chronological order, no ‘then’ and ‘now’ and ‘soon’. Time itself could not be differentiated as kairos or chronos, instant or infinite, now or not-now.
Who among us would sign up for an explanation that seems a million miles from our experience? This is how the Easter story ends: with all of us walking in the mist between night and day, to and fro, on a path to an open grave, now and forever. Jesus has taken away our sin and put death to flight, opening for us the way of everlasting life. The end of the story is that there is no end, because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.
Sermon for Easter 3
Listen to it here:
Every ending is a beginning, as the saying goes. Our texts today are put together in a way that narrates what we might call the beginning of the Church. Two men, each a traitor in his own way, are sought out by the crucified and risen Jesus and commissioned to take his place, to lead his movement. The ending of Jesus’ human ministry is the beginning of theirs. We see in the lives of these two men how the beginnings and endings that mark the chapters of our own lives are rarely straightforward and often enmeshed in each other. Only in the risen Jesus, they are one. Ending and beginning, Kairos and Chronos, death and resurrection are bound together in his scarred, ghostlike, eternal form on the lakeshore. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” This is the paradox of Easter, and we find it in our readings today: it has no ending, is not confined to a single event, but what we call “Easter” is the collapsing of time and no time, beginning and end, heaven and earth into one another.
But for now, let us find the Gospel truth that every ending is a beginning, because this is our lived experience. Sometimes, we labor long and hard for the particular ending and beginning that will breathe new life into us. Sometimes, a beginning is thrust on us by an ending we never would have chosen. Sometimes, either way, we look back and see how the hand of God was at work. Even and especially in the upheaval that came with it all. Certainly Paul and Peter were not looking for the kind of endings or beginnings that sent them into upheaval. The one who was breathing threats and murder against the Lord’s disciples knew himself to be a son of the covenant, he had ordered his life around his purity campaign against those who had strayed. But that campaign ended in a flash of lightening which knocked him blind and to the ground, with a disembodied voice of God floating over him. This is not the story he would have told about himself. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Here is the ending of who Saul: the man who thought himself the righteous son of a covenant is in fact the Lord’s persecutor. This is not the kind of upheaval we typically seek out. Authentic spirituality is revolutionary this way. There are times when, rather rendering the self content, it renders the self undone. In light of the resurrection, Saul must confront himself as a persecutor and murderer of the people of God. “In my ending is my beginning, in my beginning is my end, in my end is my beginning” is open of TS Elliot’s famous lines. Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning. The undoing and ending of Saul is the beginning of Paul.
Peter’s upheaval is less drastic, but still a reminder that Easter did not necessarily console its witnesses. The beginnings and endings of the first Easter were the beginnings and endings of their own lives, but this only dawned on them gradually. The revolution around which they’d ordered their lives had apparently failed, and so had they. For all of their love of Jesus, they can only see what has ended and are blind to what has begun. Blind in his own way, Peter has seenthe empty tomb, but walked away mute. He’s heard of, if not seen for himself, how the risen Jesus appeared out of nowhere among the disciples in a house, then came back again when Thomas was with them so Thomas could touch the scars of Jesus’ crucifixion and believe, but it’s too much to take in, this dead friend who has become a living stranger and whatever he seems to expect of them NOW. So what is Peter’s response? “Let’s go fishing.” You have to love him. He attempts and abrupt turn around to the life he once knew and still knows. The one before the horrible ending happened.
These poor men sit alone in the boat all night catching no fish. We can only imagine the confusion and sense of futility set in as they realize they can’t go back and they don’t know the way forward. Likely, Peter and the rest are blind because they, too, are carrying around their own stories about who they are, stories that have unfolded with some truth in them, stories they would not have wanted to tell about themselves. In the horror of the whole ordeal, they’d ALL been shown their true colors. Peter especially. Warming himself by the fire as his messiah was hauled to his death, Peter swore against any allegiance with Jesus and even against any knowledge of him. Paul and Peter are the perfect reminders of how God is never looking for credentials, or if he is, they are inscrutable. The apostles Jesus found were as credentialed as any of us in that they had the normal human mixture of rage, remorse, fear, loyalty, betrayal, passion, disorientation. They are their own worst enemies, especially Peter. He is the embodiment of Paul’s own confession: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Basically, Peter needs to be saved from himself: both men do. The Gospel is that they are. All of them. We should pay close attention to that – the fact that Jesus rescues Saul and Peter and all these men from themselves and we should not be embarrassed for them. This is whyJesus returns again and again, to save all of us from ourselves, this is why he came in the first place.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep.” Three times. Why? Because thee times Peter betrayed Jesus. “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” This might look like an act of forgiveness, but it’s more. Jesus is restoring Peter to himself, he’s showing Peter who he is in God’s plan, he’s showing Peter his true, true colors. In each commission to feed his sheep Jesus is negating each of Peter’s betrayals – one at a time. A total erasure of the past, of the story Peter tells about himself because of the past, an erasure that ENDS who Peter once was and launches the beginning of who he is in God’s vision. Peter has as good as murdered Jesus, and Jesus’ response is to save Peter from himself. Paul as well. You have tried to murder my own? Ah, but you are to be an instrument to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel. Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Simon, son of John, do you love me? Jesus has not come to punish or forgive any one, but to recreate them. To recreate us. This is what we might properly call personal salvation, but it never ends here. It ends in a beginning that leads us away from ourselves to others. Feed my sheep, tend them. There is no promise of protection, these men will find anything but security once they take up their commission to live and die as he did. Tend my lambs. This is the beginning of the true church, but first must come the ending. They must let go their old occupations, and who they once were – so must we all – trust that in our end is our beginning, so must we all come to know ourselves in light of the resurrection. Only then can the recreation and peace of God’s world begin.
above photo credit: Maxwell Zhang©2019
This is a setting of the "Our Father" by Scott Perkins our former Assistant Director. Thatcher Lyman is heard here as the solo voice. Thatcher is our present Assistant Director. Scott's work may be purchased via this link: http://www.scott-perkins.com/store/th... Audio/Video by Mobile Audio Productions by Michael Sherman “The Christ Church Schola Cantorum… sings beautifully.” Fanfare, Jan/Feb 2010. Founded in 1997 by Stephen Kennedy, the Schola performs the Office of Compline at Christ Church Rochester NY, Sunday evenings, October through April. First-Sunday Candlelight Concerts and Compline was named “The coolest, most unusual music experience in the city…” in Rochester Magazine’s “Our Top Picks of 2014.” This acclaimed ensemble is also an early music laboratory through engagement of historic rehearsal and performance practices. The Schola specializes in Gregorian chant, Renaissance and Baroque choral music, and choral improvisation. It has collaborated with Manfred Cordes and Weser-Renaissance Bremen, Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Players, and organists Edoardo Bellotti, Hans Davidsson, David Higgs, Olivier Latry, William Porter, Joris Verdin, and Harald Vogel. The Schola has been a favorite of festivals and concert series, notably at the annual international Eastman-Rochester Organ Initiative. APM's Pipe Dreams, Minnesota Public Radio, and WXXI’s With Heart and Voice regularly broadcast tracks, via NPR, from the Schola's CDs. With organists Edoardo Bellotti and Stephen Kennedy, the Schola and dual organs performed a “guided improvisation” accompaniment to Carl Dryer’s 1928 silent classic La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc for Eastman's 2014 EROI Festival and the University of Rochester's interdisciplinary UCIS Cluster on Music and Film. The Schola’s latest CD is of 19th century French choral music with Belgian keyboardist Joris Verdin on Eastman's vintage Mustel harmonium. The Schola is comprised of Rochester-area musicians, Eastman School of Music faculty and students, and RIT faculty. Participation in the Schola is offered for course credit at the Eastman School of Music.
Presented to the parish by Lydia Worboys
Report by Stephen Kennedy Music Director
Christ Church Rochester
Christ Church’s music program is rich and varied. Our music is for both active and passive participation. It embraces the traditions of our heritage as well as music of our present time. Our liturgical music education programs gives distinction to our parish and fosters mutual enrichment and transformation to the community. This program involves our entire parish and it is well worth celebrating. Whether chanting or singing a hymn, listening to a voluntary, or honing a motet in a rehearsal, we are all participating in something important together as a family. We are grateful for the support of Ruth Ferguson (Rector), The Rev. Peter W. Peters, Deborah Vanderbilt, Norm Geil, and Kyle Liddell (Executive Committee), our Vestry, Pat Knapp (Parish Secretary), and Moses Roland (Sexton). We also want to thank David Higgs and William Porter (Associate organists) for contributing so generously of their time and talent to our community. They also help with mentoring and teaching our parish musicians and VanDelinder Fellows. Additional thanks to Sarah Johnson (Assistant organist and VanDelinder Prize Winner for 2018-19), Luke Brennan, and Henry Webb, for great music making and leadership. Gwyneth Paker (Eastman-Christ Church Choral Scholar), Gabriella Higgins (Choral Scholar), and Thatcher Lyman (Music Scholar and Assistant Director of the Schola Cantorum) also contribute greatly to our parish. We thank Lydia Worboys, John Kirkpatrick, and Peter Schoellkopff (cantors), Christopher Huebner (Schola librarian and coordinator), Carlos Mercado (CC Choir Librarian), as well as our dedicated teem of Compline Ushers who keep the church friendly and safe for the weekly Compline congregation of between 250-375 each Sunday night. Continued thanks and appreciation to the dedicated members of our parish ensembles as listed at the end of this document:
Opportunities for you to participate more in our Music program
1. Become a Compline ushers and Candle-lighters
2. Become a Greeter at Tuesday Pipes. Alan Jones is our regular greeter, and others are welcome 3. Volunteer to help send publicity to media via e-mail
4. Help with Compline set up each Sunday following the 11:00 a.m. Eucharist
5. Help assist us is searching for grants as well as writing them.
6. Donate to Christ Church “Friends of Music” Fund
7. Purchase Christ Church CD recordings as gifts for your friends
9 Goals and objectives:
Attract more people to Christ Church through our music program - Goal on target
Created the 3rd Sunday Lecture Series prior to Compline.
Compline attendance continues to grow each year.
CC ensembles have more members than ever.
Raise the level of musicianship in CC ensembles - Goal on target
• This ongoing goal is being realized in both the Christ Church
Choir as well as the Schola Cantorum.
Raise community awareness of our high quality and diverse music program - Goal on target
Video/audio recordings of the Schola Cantorum in 2017 allowed
us to begin a Youtube presence with thousands of people around
the world viewing these posts.
Music Director sends Email marketing ads to “Friends of Music” donors
4 times a month to advertise Candlelight Concerts & Compline,
As well as the 3rd Sunday Lecture Series.
Music Director creates Facebook postings on the parish page as well as
the Schola Cantorum page each week.
Music Director publicizes weekly Compline, Candlelight Concerts, and the
3rd Sunday Lectures in the D&C and the City Newspaper.
Foster the education and training of musicians in liturgical music skills - Goal on target
• This ongoing goal is being realized through our VanDelinder Fellows Program and our positions of ESM Choral Scholar, Christ Church Choral Scholar, and Music Scholar. Student composers also work with Music Director to hone compositions for CC ensembles for performance in our liturgies. Members in both ensembles are becoming skilled in chanting Lessons, readings and prayers in liturgies.
5. Engage people from the larger community (non-parishioners) to help fund our parish music program - Goal on target
• Non-parish donors from the Rochester Community as well as from around the country help fund our music program “wish list” items such as purchasing two choirs of Renaissance Sackbuts for performing motets in the historic colla parte Tradition. Christ Church Rochester, may be the only ensemble in the world where this practice is fostered weekly.
6. Install professional recording equipment in the church to record CC Choir, and the Schola in CC liturgies, and concerts -Goal attained
• Christ Church worked with ESM to pay for the installment of microphones
In the Sanctuary for recording CC ensembles. These recordings are used
For educational purposes and are posted on Facebook and soon on youtube.
7. Program Fundraising - Goal on target
Our parish operating budget funds only a small fraction of our music
program budget, so we need to fundraise and write grants for program income. Please consider assisting the Music Director in this area.
SCHOLA and Organ CD recording sales have raised over $13,000 since 2004.
8. Strengthen existing community collaborations and partnerships in music - Goal on target
• We have been working with the Wardens to create an online calendar so that scheduling conflicts do not occur with partners such as the ESM Organ Department.
ESM advertises Compline in “Eastman Notes” magazine and events calendar.
Community leaders are invited to present 3rd Sunday Lectures.
Tuesday Pipes (collaborative series) brings about 60 people into CC each Tuesday
9. Enriching and transforming community -Goal on target
Music ensembles are a microcosm of the parish. They enrich and transform all who participate in them as well as the congregation that experiences the music that they make. This is especially evident at CC because
of our tradition of mutual reciprocity of music and liturgy.
The wider community is especially attracted to Compline which is one of the Highest attended services in Rochester.
Gwyneth Paker (ESM Choral Scholar)
Mary Anne Wickett
Cynthia Qiyue He
Gabriella Higgins (Choral Scholar)
Sarah Johnson (Assistant Organist)
Lydia Worboys (Cantor)
Luke Brennan (Fellow)
Carlos Mercado (Librarian)
John Kirkpatrick (Cantor)
Henry Webb (Fellow)
Report by Stephen Kennedy Music Director
Glenna Curren Katie Harmer Aika ito (historic violin)
Käthe Wright Kaufman Sarah McConnell Amanda Mole
Mary Mowers Melissa Palfey Liza Sommers (historic violin)
Amy Steinberg Jared Wallis (cornetto)
Ben David Aronson (sackbut) Sarah Johnson James Kealey
Professor Honey Meconi Tim Tianyi Ren Lydia Worboys
Luke Brennan Benjamin Henderson Isaac hutton
Thatcher Lyman (Assistant director) David Marshall Malcolm Mathews (organist)
Jacob Montgomery Jordan Moore (sackbut) Dale Nickell
Chris Petit Trevor Scott Okawa Tai Chuan Tan
Russell West Alden Wright Stephen Zugelder (Tenor sackbut)
Mark Ballard Oliver Brett (organ) Dillon Downey(Bass sackbut)
Isaac Drewes Joshua Ehlebracht Jonathan Falk
Noah Fields (historic Viola) John Kirkpatrick Professor Michael E Ruhling
Peter Schoellkopff Henry Webb Haotian Yu
Yan Yue Christopher Huebner (Librarian and coordinator)
Compline team of Ushers & Candlelighters:
Lucy Alanzo Robert Crumrine Kathryn Jospe Pru Kirkpatrick Kristy Liddell
Kyle Liddell Sonja Shelton Hannah Sommers Marti StGeorge
For more information about concerts and music events, please visit the Christ Church website:
You can also find the billboard of ongoing and special future events by going to the top of this section and clicking on the link "MUSIC GALLERY".
Here are just a few ways in which Christ Church members and friends may participate in our program:
• Becoming an Usher/Candle-lighter for Compline
• Make contributions to our Friends of Music Fund. This fund supports music at Christ Church. It also enables us to provide musical outreach to the Rochester community through music-training programs, concerts, and enables us to enhance our liturgies with music.
• Purchase our various CD recordings for friends and family members as gifts.
• Assist in publicizing music at Christ Church by helping sending emails to the local media
Please contact me if you are interested in participating in any aspect of our music program at Christ Church. Stephen Kennedy, Music Director email@example.com You may also support our music education and enrichment opportunities for young musicians who are dedicating their lives to the field of sacred music by contributing to Christ Church’s "Friends of Music" fund.
Please continue to follow the musical life of our parish by reading the monthly Music Notes and Calendar that are emailed from my address via MailChimp.
-Click on the posters below for a full page view.
The music sound files contained here are from the new CD recordings that have just been released. These recordings are available for purchase by clicking the link below. The music used in this publication is edited.
Other links of interest are: