The Gospel readings in the season of Easter concentrate on the resurrection stories. Last week we had the story of doubting Thomas, this week the Road to Emmaus.
In all the appearances of the Risen Lord there is this strange inability to recognise him. He is seen by Mary Magdalene, and she thinks he is the gardener. In Sunday’s reading from St Luke, Cleopas and companion think he is a fellow traveller. Interestingly, St John has Mary of Cleopas present at the crucifixion, and identifies her as the sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This has led some to speculate that what we have here is Cleopas and his wife, who were his relatives. However, St Luke seems to make it clear that the two were acquainted with Jesus and should have recognised him; yet did not. It was only in the breaking of the bread they finally saw him and recognised him.
This is the human blindness: to fail to see Jesus. He walks with us and teaches us, but we fail to see him as he truly is. St John has Mary recognising him when he calls her name; here St Luke has them recognising him in the breaking of the bread, a sacramental dimension. The Gospels are teaching us to learn to see Our Lord in new and different ways, to hear him call to us and to see Our Lord in the communion we take.
As Christians we are continually challenged to see Jesus in the face of what seems to be the ordinary or even tragedy. By now we have been unable to gather and celebrate in our churches for several weeks: Passion, Palm, Easter and Low Sundays have passed by with our doors shut to the street. This time of enforced solitude helps us to ask the question: where do we see Jesus now? How is Our Lord speaking to us at this time? What do we miss about our gathering around the broken bread, to see the presence of Our Lord there?
Last week I recorded the feast of the Annotine Easter. This is the day one year past the last Easter. At Easter in particular, the early church administered the rite of baptism and confirmation, the giving of new life to candidates who had prepared themselves over the period of Lent. Then, at the Vigil service, they were baptised and received the new robes of white to symbolise their new life in Christ. One week later on the Saturday, they returned the white robes, so the day was known in Latin as in albis depositis or in albis deponendis (of removal of the white garments). Later the description in albis was applied also to the following Sunday, the octave day of Easter, Low Sunday. A year later their baptism was commemorated on the birthday, so to speak, of the last Easter, and that date is the Annotine Easter. So, on that date, we still pray for all those baptised or confirmed during the past year.
Every year there is a special Anglican Church Calendar printed. Next year’s will also feature our beautiful church. It is a recognition of the outstanding beauty of our parish church and the generations of care that have created and maintained it.
Finances are a difficult subject at this time, and my thanks for the support we have received. The diocese has applied for the Jobkeeper payment, and we should know soon if that is successful. The Archbishop believes we should be able to receive these payments. If so, that will help a lot.
One of the traditions we have here at St George’s is a restrained use of the organ over Lent as part of our penitential way. Hence, we never play the organ after the mass at 9.30. It’s always so much fun to hear the great postludes again in Eastertide, one of my favourites is Widor’s Toccata. Here is a lovely version from the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical Benedictine monastic Christian community located near Rock Harbor, in Orleans, Massachusetts, USA. Enjoy the music and the lovely pictures of the community.
First things first – there is a St Corona! A first century martyr, she is venerated in Bavaria and Austria as the patron saint of treasure hunters and is invoked in times of epidemics and contagious diseases. I’m assured by the internet that her name is purely coincidental! https://zenit.org/articles/library-in-alexandria-egypt-offers-online-lessons-on-st-corona/
Last week we suggested that we’ll focus on mission and aid activities in PNG and the Solomon Islands. We’ll still do that, but today we’ll take a detour and look at the Barnabas Fund. Barnabas is a global organisation that provides ‘hope and aid for the persecuted church’ and assists Christians in non-Christian majority countries. Of very real interest is Barnabas’ proactive role regarding the Covid 19 epidemic – this puts them ahead of many other agencies, and is the reason why we’ve chosen them today.
Please note that when we review mission and aid organisations that we’re not recommending donations – instead it’s about exploring the Church in the world, and then allowing the reader to think about their own priorities. There’s a lot of agencies out there looking for funds!
The Barnabas website is at https://barnabasfund.org. Barnabas assists the persecuted Church by:
- directing funds only to Christians, although they may indirectly help others;
- sending funds, not people;
- sending funds to existing structures (e.g. local churches or Christian organisations); and
- using the money to fund projects which have been developed by local Christians in their own communities.
This is same basis on which St George’s donates to the Diocese of Aipo Rongo in PNG or through our parishioners in the Solomon Islands. It’s very efficient, but the risk is – how do we know the money has been spent properly? For our small offerings it’s about relationships and trust, but for the larger organisations it comes down to their governance structures. I was surprised to find little about these on the Barnabas webpage, but the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission reports that donations are managed through the Barnabas International Project Committee in the UK and otherwise highlights no issues.
Here are some Covid 19 relevant reports from Barnabas.
- Barnabas is working through an Africa wide network of theological colleges to identify need and distribute assistance: https://barnabasfund.org/coronavirus.
- Boko Haram takes advantage of the Covid 19 lockdowns in West Africa: https://news.barnabasfund.org/Boko-Haram-leader-declares-coronavirus-product-of-evil-mocks-health-measures-as-attacks-step-up-in-West-Africa-under-Covid-19-curfews/.
- Similarly, there have been proposed attacks in Egypt: https://news.barnabasfund.org/Islamist-terrorists–plotting-Covid-19-coronavirus-curfew-attack-on-Christians-shot-dead-by-Egypt-police/
In addition, please take a look at the reports on the African locust plague that St George’s has been praying for.
If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at firstname.lastname@example.org.