Category Archives: Lent 2012

Good Friday

Good Friday, April 6, 2012

Today’s readings
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42
Psalm 22

For a reflection on the lectionary readings, read Brother James at              


Not My Fault

by Marjorie George

It’s not my fault, said Pilate, as he washed his hands of the whole “Jesus problem.”

It’s not my fault, I said, as I climbed onto the city busses in the 1950’s and observed the sign saying, “Colored, seat from the back of the bus.”

It’s not my fault that some soldier went berserk in Afghanistan and killed innocent women and children.

It’s not my fault that on the west side of San Antonio gangs roam the streets, not even just at night any more, shooting and killing at will. I live out here in the quiet suburbs, just minding my own business.

It’s not my fault that in its infancy, humankind ignored God’s invitation to live with Him in Paradise and chose instead to try to replace him with its own ego.

It’s not my fault when I lose my temper with my family, or choose not to speak up when I see my community leaning toward selfishness, or distance myself from the messiness and cruelty of this society. I’m only human, you know.

By choice, God in Christ became part of the human family. By choice, Christ walked among us, telling us and teaching us to love one another, to care about each other. By choice, Christ on the cross experienced the sins of all humankind. By choice, Christ gathered – and still gathers —  us into one human family and forgives us for all those sins that are not our fault.

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (The collect for Good Friday.)


 Walking the Way of the Cross

In the fall of 2001, parishioners from Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, South Carolina, traveled to New York City to provide respite service for workers at Ground Zero. These 14 photos, taken by Advent parishioners, became for them, and now for us, Stations of the Cross.





As a Servant

Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today’s readings

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 1
Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Psalm 116:1, 10-17

For a reflection on the lectionary readings, read Brother James at 


Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. —John 13:5

by the Rev. Mary Earle

The Thursday of Holy Week is known as “Maundy Thursday,” referring to the Latin word for commandment, mandatum. As we saw yesterday, in these last days of his life, Jesus both states and enacts his new commandment—that we love one another as he has loved us. To show the disciples what he means, he washes their feet. These feet would have been dusty, cracked, lined. A servant would normally have taken a basin and washed the feet of guests arriving for a meal.

Jesus, whom the disciples know as teacher and friend, healer and leader, abandons all of those roles and kneels before each disciple, washing feet. It is scandalous. Peter, for one, cannot bear it. He says to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet” (John 13:9). Jesus leads him to see that this washing of one another is a way of revealing divine tenderness in common, human need. All of us need to have our feet washed. All of us need to wash another.

On this night in which he is betrayed by Judas, Jesus also has a last meal with his disciples. He shares bread and wine with them, saying “Do this in remembrance of me.” A washing and a meal—both shared in common, both offered by Jesus as signs of the love that will not let us go, of the divine life embodied in him.

There is a kind of familial, maternal care in these last actions—washing, feeding, teaching. Jesus knows that his time is short, and so he desires to give the disciples the essence of his life and his work: Love one another. Wash one another’s feet. Feed one another. In those actions you will discover the very life of God, dwelling there with you, waiting to be discovered and celebrated. You will discover, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said, Jesus the Christ in “his many different disguises.”

Holy Friend and Savior, may we know you in the washing, and in the breaking of the bread. Amen.

The Rev. Mary C. Earle is an author, spiritual director, retreat leader, and writer-in-residence at The Work+Shop in San Antonio TX. Reach her at

This reflection is taken from Holy Week Devotions,


The Maundy Thursday Liturgy
(The Book of Common Prayer, pg 274)

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The readings:
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14a
Psalm:78:14-20, 23-25
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (27-32)
Gospel: John 13:1-15,   or Luke 22:14-30

During the ceremony of foot washing, the following or other suitable anthems may be sung or said

The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them, “Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you?  I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done.”

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.

Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you.

By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.


Most Episcopal Churches have Maundy Thursday services in the evening. To find a church near you, go to the website of The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and click on the “churches and schools” tab.

To find specific locations for the Maundy Thursday service and other Holy Week resources, click here.

Pray without Ceasing

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 4, 2012

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Hebrews 12:1-3
John 13:21-32
Psalm 70

For a reflection on the lectionary, read Brother James


A Prayer for Wednesday in Holy Week
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon:  Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Today (or starting today and going through tomorrow) pray the Divine Hours. Traditionally there are seven “hours,” but more modern versions use only three – morning, midday, and evening, sometimes adding compline.  

An online version from Beliefnet prays at morning, midday, and evening.


The below is from Saint Benedict on the Freeway by Corinne Ware, Abingdon Press.

The Hour of Vigils, sometime between midnight and 6 a.m.: If you wake during the night, use the darkness simply to be with God, aware of the Holy Presence in your quiet hours.

The Hour of Lauds, upon wakening.  Wake to thank and praise God. This is the hour to spend some time in prayer and contemplation. Spend 20 minutes if you can.

The hour of Prime, before you begin your day’s work. Take just a moment to look over your day’s calendar, asking God to be in all you attempt to do.

The Hour of Terce, mid-morning. At break time, deeply breathe in God’s spirit before returning to your morning’s tasks.

The Hour of Sext, noon. Take time to consider the whole world and its needs.

The Hour of None, late afternoon. In the afternoon, we close down our work and turn toward home. It is a time for forgiving, asking forgiveness from God, and letting go of the day’s events.

The Hour of Vespers/Compline. Close the day with peacefulness, prayer, and perhaps a bit of bedtime reading. Entrust your life to God until you greet the morning again with thanksgiving.


To buy an app for praying the Divine Hours:








What a Friend We Have

Monday in Holy Week, April 2, 2012

Today’s readings
Isaiah 42:1-9
Hebrews 9:11-15
John 12:1-11
Psalm 36:5-11

by Mary C. Earle

There they gave a dinner for him. —John 12:2

The gospel lesson appointed for Holy Monday takes us to the household of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. These three siblings regularly have offered hospitality to Jesus. Mary and Martha have demonstrated great faith, and Lazarus has been raised from the dead. Their lives have been knit together in powerful ways, and, particularly in the Gospel of John, we have glimpses of moments of miracle and mystery.

As is the case with many biblical accounts, there is much that is revealed in one verse. “There they gave a dinner for him.” In addition to being witnesses of Jesus’ authoritative teaching and life-giving presence, these three are his familiars. They treat him like family. He is at home in their home. Sometimes I have the sense that they are closer to him than the disciples, who are always busy bumping heads with one another, trying to see who is going to win “Best Disciple” of the week.

The disciples are on the road with Jesus, trying to learn, missing the point half the time, not wanting to hear Jesus tell them the truth of his life. By contrast, Mary, Martha and Lazarus offer Jesus their home. In the quiet domestic space of these three siblings, perhaps Jesus could be at ease. Perhaps he could put aside the messiah-projections and savor conversation, enjoy a meal, sleep in familiar surroundings.

According to the Gospel of John, it is in this house that Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus. She dares to take the pound of costly perfume and pour it on Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair. She dares to say with her actions, “I know what you are facing into; I know that this entry into Jerusalem will lead to your death. And I know you have to do this.”

I imagine that such honesty-in-action would have been a great gift to Jesus. Someone— friend—knows that darkness is up ahead. This family of siblings is willing to receive the truth, and in so doing they give Jesus a great gift.

Each of us has times in our lives when we need a friend who will not sugar-coat the reality we have to face. Each of us has a need for a Martha or a Mary or a Lazarus—for a friend who will let us be, who will let us say, “I am scared to my bones.” Or “I am going to suffer.” Or “I am going to die.”

When we encounter such friends, we know something of the presence of God in our midst, God in Christ as friend who allows us to tell the truth in love, to be the truth in love, by God’s grace, for one another.

This Holy Week, O God, may I remember that Jesus calls us his friends, and may I seek to love as he loves. Amen.

The Rev. Mary C. Earle is an author, spiritual director, retreat leader, and writer-in-residence at The Work+Shop in San Antonio TX. Reach her at

This reflection is taken from Holy Week Devotions,

See more Holy Week reflections by Mary Earle at

For more ways to spend time with Christ during Holy Week, click here

For more reflections on the lectionary, read Brother James

Entering Holy Week

Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012

by the Rev. Lera Tyler

After hearing the dramatic reading of Palm Sunday, we might say: “Here ends the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.”  We could – and probably will – return to church next Sunday morning and hear the happy ending. We will be dressed in our Easter attire, and we’ll join in the fellowship and fun of fiestas and egg hunts and candy-stained hands.  We’ll send the children to flower the cross, and we’ll sing those glorious Easter hymns.

Between these two Sundays, however, the great drama of our faith moves forward with wrenching honesty and power. And on this last Sunday in Lent, we are invited into this drama by experiencing, at a deeper level, the story of Holy Week.

The Christian Church invites us to participate in the story of God’s great, all-out effort to bring lasting salvation and hope to God’s beloved world.  Just as the Church invited us into a Holy Lent, the traditions of the Church now invite us into the deep and dark experience of Jesus’ last days.  

We are encouraged to live in the story individually and within Christian community, so I offer a few suggestions.  Begin by reading (again for many of you) the passion story from Mark (Chapters 14 and 15). It will only take you about 20 minutes, even at a moderately thoughtful pace.

Then reflect on the events and again enter into its drama mindfully and creatively. Imagine yourself one of the persons you find in the story. Here are some suggestions:

  • As one of the women who followed Jesus from Galilee, prepared the Passover meal, and dared to watch the crucifixion;
  • As one of the people in the crowd who shouted hosannas as Jesus rode into Jerusalem and who then became confused and disillusioned as he was tried for treason;
  • As Peter who in great fear denied Jesus and ran away;
  • As Judas who had become fearful of being on the losing side and greedy to be on the winning side;
  • As the curious serving girl in the courtyard who challenged Peter’s lie;
  • Or as the centurion who had seen enough in his career to recognize courage and unquestioning commitment to a higher power.

Here are other suggestions:

  • You might imagine yourself kneeling beside Jesus in your own lonely places.
  • You may find yourself grieving for Jesus and for all those who have abandoned you.
  • You might allow yourself to say, “Where is God?” as Jesus hangs on the cross and you voice your own doubts about God’s presence when you have needed God.
  • You might pray with Jesus, plea to God for comfort for your own trials, pray for compassion for those who hurt you, and ask for new life in this hour.
  • You might examine whether your identity as a follower of Jesus is hidden from others.

You are encouraged to make time to participate with your Christian family as it gathers on Maundy Thursday to honor the unquestioning love of God and to be reminded that Jesus commanded us to love one another as Jesus loves us.  You are encouraged to present yourself: your feet to be washed and your hands and hearts to receive that last meal together, and then to sit in silence witnessing your surroundings being stripped of all signs of Jesus as he disappears in Gethsemane’s darkness.

You are encouraged to pray in community on Good Friday, during the hours of the crucifixion or during the darkening twilight of death. You are encouraged to attend the Easter Vigil as your community, through biblical narratives and baptismal waters, casts out of the darkness of death and receives the light of Jesus’ resurrection.

We, who identify ourselves as followers of Jesus, are called to follow him.  This week he leads us, through the haunting path of sacrificial love, toward the sure hope of our salvation.  Along the way we are called to witness our story: as real as suffering and death are, they will vanish in the bright light of Easter’s dawn.

The Rev. Lera Tyler is assistant rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, San Antonio TX. She preached this sermon on Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012. Reach Lera at or leave your comment below.

For other ways to spend time with Christ this week, click here