THE CAT’S MEOW
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope
The 3rd Sunday of Easter 26 April 2020
Reading: Luke 24.13-35
THAT same day two disciples were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14talking together about all that had happened. 15As they talked and argued, Jesus himself came up and walked with them; 16but something prevented them from recognizing him. 17He asked them, ‘What is it you are debating as you walk?’ They stood still, their faces full of sadness, 18and one, called Cleopas, answered, ‘Are you the only person staying in Jerusalem not to have heard the news of what has happened there in the last few days?’ 19‘What news?’ he said. ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied, ‘who, by deeds and words of power, proved himself a prophet in the sight of God and the whole people; 20and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and crucified him. 21But we had been hoping that he was to be the liberator of Israel. What is more, this is the third day since it happened, 22and now some women of our company have astounded us: they went early to the tomb, 23but failed to find his body, and returned with a story that they had seen a vision of angels who told them he was alive. 24Then some of our people went to the tomb and found things just as the women had said; but him they did not see.’
25‘How dull you are!’ he answered. ‘How slow to believe all that the prophets said! 26Was not the Messiah bound to suffer in this way before entering upon his glory?’ 27Then, starting from Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them in the whole of scripture the things that referred to himself.
28By this time they had reached the village to which they were going, and he made as if to continue his journey. 29But they pressed him: ‘Stay with us, for evening approaches, and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30And when he had sat down with them at table, he took bread and said the blessing; he broke the bread, and offered it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; but he vanished from their sight. 32They said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts on fire as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
33Without a moment’s delay they set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found that the eleven and the rest of the company had assembled, 34and were saying, ‘It is true: the Lord has risen; he has appeared to Simon.’ 35Then they described what had happened on their journey and told how he had made himself known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Like the gospel story it depicts, Rembrandt’s The Supper at Emmaus is curiously divided into two parts, each of which may be understood to represent one aspect of a soul’s movement towards God. The first portion of Luke’s story records how two followers (not of the twelve) meet Jesus on the road. Bewildered, and not recognizing Jesus, they recount the events of the last three days: the crucifixion, burial, and the account given by some women of their company of the empty tomb. We might understand this part of the story in reference to the neophyte’s desire for an understanding of God in a purely rational sense. Knowing this need, Jesus explains to them “in the whole of scripture the things that referred to himself.”
Most of us, even those of us who have followed Jesus for many years, have at least one foot in the camp that the disciples do. In their attempt to square their expectations of God with the events of the previous few days, they come up short. They are bewildered and sad. Their attempts to understand the ways of God on the basis of history, doctrine, and received tradition alone have rendered them unable to see Jesus in the ordinary context in which he has appeared to them—breaking bread. While we, like the two disciples, crave answers that appear certain, oftentimes the spiritual answers we seek are those that do nothing more than support pre-conceived notions we have of God. These notions may become static; they may result in clinging too closely to what worked in the past. We may double-down on what is familiar, hoping that an entrenched conservatism might lead us to security and stronger faith. Sometimes such an approach leads to a kind of spiritual egotism in which those who do not share our viewpoint are treated as spiritual second class citizens. We might understand the left side of the painting as representing that stage of the spiritual life in which we weigh and balance the value of received traditions, doctrines, and expectations, against what progress the soul may make when we simultaneously allow our attention to be drawn to those joys and revelations that appear before us in the course of ordinary life—something as ordinary as the breaking of bread.
Wishing these disciples to witness such joys, and thus fuel their spiritual course, Jesus does the ordinary. The result is the subject of the well-lit right half of the painting. Here we see the reaction of one of the disciples to what Jesus has just done: take bread, bless and break it, and offer it. With this action, says Luke, the eyes of the disciples were opened, and the disciples recognized him. In a break with previous renditions of this scene, it is not Jesus who is at the centre of the painting; he isn’t even in the light. Instead he is shown in profile, in silhouette against the light whose source is uncertain. What we are drawn to, what is the centre and subject of the painting, is the reaction of the seated disciple. His expression is a mixed one of surprise, fear, and awe. With the foundation of his spiritual self-challenged by an ordinary joy, he is in a place of some quandary. While Luke tells us that the table event caused the disciples to go to Jerusalem without delay, Rembrandt shows us that moment in which there remains doubt. In the lives of most people of faith such moments may be many, and they may be long lasting indeed, as we gain a new foothold in uncharted spiritual territory.
But it is in such territory that we gain new insight into ourselves and our relation to the world around us. It is here that the ego’s supremacy is unseated and we see ourselves in a new light. It is here where our attention is re-focused away from security and what will happen tomorrow, and on present reality and what peace it brings.
To illustrate the balance Christians seek to strike between the guidance tradition and doctrine offer, and the ordinary joy of attentiveness to the present moment in ordinary events, I leave you with this Zen tale:
One morning, a Zen master was about to give his disciples a sermon. Just as he stepped to the podium, a bird came and sat on the windowsill. It began to sing. Its song was so beautiful that everyone present was totally enchanted. Afterward, the bird flew away. The master told his disciples, “Today’s sermon is over.”
When the meaning is grasped, why worry about the words? *
Reprinted in Kenneth S. Leong, The Zen Teachings of Jesus
(New York: Crossroads) p. 183.
The Flowers this week
We will print the dedications for flowers that would have been placed in the church each Sunday.
April 19: The Ayling Family and the Hamilton-Neate Family, from Carol-Anne Ayling
Deceased members of the choir, from Randy Mills
April 26: Ben Lloyd, from Jane Pinchin.
Frances Pollard, Vi Tompkins and Bev. Clifford Tompkins from Randy Mills
If you usually use your envelopes to give, please consider mailing in your donation or putting it in the mail box by the parish hall door. We are monitoring it! Or even better, tell us you want to go onto PAR.
Choral Evensong, 3rd Sunday after Easter, April 26, 2020.
Social isolation has brought forth good fruit! Click on the link above to enjoy our BCP Choral Evensong. Should you wish to follow along, the Order of Service is on the last two pages of this issue of The Cat’s Meow.
A GIFT FOR FATHER RANDY
You are invited to consider making a donation in celebration of Fr Randy’s incumbency at St. Mark’s to either of the following charities:
Doctors without Borders
551 Adelaide St. West
Toronto, ON M5V 0N8
Nature Conservancy of Canada
245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410
Toronto, ON M4P 3J1
Through The Cat’s Meow we can gather in the names of those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit at this time and for whom you have a special concern and we can each undertake to lift them up in prayer before God.
Pat Bryan’s son, Sean, (some may know him from The Beamish), had a heart attack last week. After having four stents installed, he is up and about and walking the dog. Your prayers for a full recovery would be welcome.
Let us give thanks with Marilyn Moore who celebrated her 80th birthday last week. Carol Poste organized a joyous surprise drive-by celebration with the Early Risers, complete with a casserole, pink flamingos, and Happy Birthday sung by a carload of passing women!
Let us have names by next Friday and they will be included in the next issue and onward.
Attic Treasures and
Since we are all practising social distancing and staying home as much as possible, many parishioners are finding inventive ways to stay busy. If you are busy cleaning and sorting, please keep in mind this date:
Saturday 15 August 2020 (we hope!)
Poem written by Kathleen O’Mara, 1869
And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened and they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal.
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.
Reprinted 1919 during Spanish Flu Pandemic
The Cat’s Meow: For inclusion, contact Marion Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday morning. 905-885-0787
The 3rd Sunday after Easter – April 26, 2020
Presider: Fr Randy D. Murray,
Cantors: Killari (officiant) and Iris Geale Quispe. Organist: Randy Mills
Welcome and Opening Sentence
The Preces Smith of Durham
Psalm 23 Tone VIII.1
First Lesson – Acts 14.14a,36-41
Magnificat Tone VIII.2
Second Lesson – Luke 24.13-35
Nunc Dimittis Tone I.4 Then shall be said the Confession of the Faith, called the Apostles’ Creed
I BELIEVE in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
And after the Creed, further prayers will be sung, then:
OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O GOD, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hymn 203 Jesus Christ is ris’n today
1 Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once, upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
2 Hymns of praise then let us sing Alleluia!
unto Christ our heav’nly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
3 But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.