Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 13, 2016
Mass at 11:00 a.m. Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8. Pastor George Detweiler preaches and presides.
Today’s readings foreshadow the celebration of Jesus death and resurrection at the end of Holy Week. Isaiah refers to the new thing God will do, evoking the Exodus, and using the imagery of water in the desert that Christians see as baptismal. Psalm 126 is a psalm of longing for the restoration of Jerusalem and its worship of the God of Abraham.
Paul, in the second reading, longs for this new thing that God has revealed in Christ Jesus. He wants to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death. This is the goal toward which Paul is pressing on. What is the goal of your life?
In the gospel for today, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. When an objection is raised to the wastefulness of this act, Jesus defends it as preparing him for his burial. That this happens after Jesus raised Lazarus foreshadows Jesus’ death and resurrection. How do we prepare for death and life?
Lenten Meditation V is Sunday at 5:00PM
The Bach Choir performs Tomas Luis Victoria’s Teneebrae Responsories and John Sheppard’s Media vita.
Music for Sunday
Prelude: Sonata III in A Major, F. B. Mendelssohn
Offertory: Jesus, So Lowly, Harold Friedell
Communion: Ave, verum corpus, William Byrd
Postlude: Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu dir, BWV 686, J. S. Bach
#803 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
#324 In the Cross of Christ, I Glory
#337 Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow
We may take our location on a busy corner of Central Park West for granted, but it gives us great opportunities for ministry in Christ’s name. With thousands of people walking by every day, we have only to open the doors and walk outside for opportunities to present themselves.
Ash Wednesday is just one example. Donald and I stood outside on the corner, offering ashes to passersby, whether on foot or in a car or truck. Perhaps we imposed ashes on 100 people in two hours in the morning and one hour in the evening.
At the present time, we have two young adults, who grew up without any religious training, preparing for baptism. They are people who happened to come through our doors because we are in an obvious location. (One was attracted by Bach Vespers.)
Most congregations do not have these opportunities to disciple new Christians. It has been six years since I last prepared an adult for baptism. We have more Sunday morning visitors than any congregation I have ever served, including one with an a Sunday attendance of over 800. This is a result of our location.
There is, of course, a hospitality challenge here as well: there are so many people to welcome! Sometimes there are almost as many visitors as members at our morning Mass, and at Bach Vespers we are outnumbered. This can lead to hospitality fatigue, which we can ill afford.
Some of us try to be especially aware of people who have attended even once before and to engage them in conversation. On a second visit to worship, I ask for an email address, offer to put them on our newsletter list, and send a follow up email. But the pastor cannot make these connections alone. People come to Holy Trinity looking for Christ embodied in a Christian community, not the pastor. Connecting visitors with members of similar age makes a difference. Visitors are frequently looking for “people like ourselves,” whatever that means to them.
The importance of our location is a reason for the continuing concern about repairing and improving our building. To stay here at 65th and Central Park West, we have to maintain and improve the facility so it can be used for future ministry in Christ’s name.
The Spirit continues to send us people who want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. I pray he will give us grace to serve him in this place for many years to come.
The Call Committee has completed its initial round of interviews. They are in a confidential period of discernment. They wish that they could say more at this time, but they cannot. Please continue to pray for them and Holy Trinity’s leaders.
Scripture Readings – Week after Lent 5
Sunday: Isaiah 43:16-17. What event are these verses evoking?
Monday: Isaiah 43:21. How did the Lord form his people into a nation?
Tuesday: Psalm 126. How is this a psalm of comfort and hope?
Wednesday: Philippians 3:4b-6. What were Paul’s religious credentials?
Thursday: Philippians 3:7. Why didn’t they matter?
Friday: Philippians 3:8-11. Can you agree with Paul here? Why or why not?
Saturday: Philippians 3:13-14. Is there a parallel here to the Isaiah text?
Sunday: John 12:1-8. In John’s gospel, what is the significance of this story?