Hello Christ Church!
I really want to thank Rick for initiating these daily devotions. They have become a beacon in these strange and uncertain days. These reflections have reminded us that, even as we shelter in place, God’s kingdom is always rooted in community. It has been powerful knowing that, as I read them, you are doing the same, and in that act, while not gathered physically, we are a community in spirit. Thanks be to God.
Rick has asked if I would be willing to contribute. I am happy to do so and will, for the (un)foreseeable future, be your Man Friday. I pray that you are well and taking all the necessary precautions to remain so. When that time comes, I look forward to seeing you once again in the pews of Christ Church!
Friday, April 3, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
“What day is it?” This is a question I often find myself repeating as one evening becomes another morning in this season of sheltering in place. Gone are the daily appointments and interactions that have always kept me on track and moving through any given week. I am taking many walks and doing a lot of reading, but a walk on one day is much like another, as is turning the page. The distinction known as “Monday”, “Tuesday”, “Wednesday” etc. no longer seem to matter. And so, when Janie asks me, “What day is it?” I often have to reply, “I’m not sure.”
But today’s reading from the Psalms serves as a stark reminder. The opening verse of Psalm 22 sounds so hauntingly familiar: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Of course, these are the very words Jesus prays from the cross in the final moments of his life (Matthew 27:36). We are standing at the threshold of Palm Sunday. Holy Week is almost upon us, then Good Friday, then Easter. Now I know exactly what day it is and remember the moments in Jesus’ life that we will observe in the days ahead.
Obviously, the observance of Holy Week, Good Friday, and the celebration of Easter, will be quite different this year. Rick, Zoom, and streaming will do their very best to bring us together. But it may also be helpful to find a companion at home to help keep us focused on the real significance of these coming days.
I would recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer as that companion. He was one of the great theologians of the 20th Century. He was also a leader in the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, a co-conspirator in the attempt on Hitler’s life, and was one of the last prisoners executed in the Flossenburg concentration camp prior to the end of the war. In particular, reading his “Letters and Papers from Prison” or “Life Together” during Holy Week might prove valuable.
At the heart of Bonhoeffer’s theology is this essential question: “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” It is the question that each generation of Christians must ask themselves with the answer framed by the particular realities of the present moment. As we look toward next week, in the midst of all that we are presently experiencing, it is the most important question we can ask ourselves, for in seeking the answer, we will find the hope that will keep us going and make us whole. God’s peace.
* Commemorations in italics are from A Great Cloud of Witnesses; others are from Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018. [Commemorations in brackets appear in Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018 for trial use.]