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It's usually not called Passion Sunday these days—it's the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The Gospel is long, and is the story of Lazarus returning from the dead.

This photo of Tomb of Lazarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The story of Lazarus is perhaps the high point of the Gospel of John before we descend into the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. It prefigures the resurrection on Easter Day, and is one of my favourite Gospel stories.

Today in Church I was required to read the Gospel, and, as I always do, I choked up in the middle. I have been reading in churches for more than 50 years, and I am normally a good public reader—I have a loud voice, I can project it in most large spaces, and I can read with expression. I also know how to pronounce most of the difficult words that some readings contain.

But when I get to the story of Lazarus, I have to steel myself to get through it. I don't know why, but at the point where the shortest verse in the Bible comes I just cannot help myself. It's: "Jesus wept."

Jesus loved Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, but John says that he loved Lazarus too. When word came to Jesus that Lazarus had died (we aren't told from what), Jesus procrastinated for a few days. John says that Jesus wanted to show that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, and by raising Lazarus bring the disciples to belief. He says, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."

To me, this passage tells me everything I need to know about Jesus. I realise that many are not religious, or are not Christians, and I wouldn't expect everyone to believe as I do. But who cannot read this Gospel (John 11:1-44) without feeling the love that Jesus had for his friend, and his sorrow that he had been too late to keep him from death. Raising Lazarus is the ultimate gift that he can give his friend.

And who of us who has been recently bereaved, can read this Gospel without wishing for the same resurrection for their beloved friend or relative? It is an impossible wish, but we all wish it anyway, I'm sure.

When a friend or acquaintance tells me of his or her recent bereavement, I always say, "May s/he rest in peace, and rise in glory." The story of Lazarus is what gives me the authority to say this, and mean it.

We are now embarking upon the run-up to Palm Sunday and then Holy Week, with Easter Sunday on the horizon. Whether we speak of the resurrection of Christ, or the resurrection of plants and living things as Spring begins, we can recall that before a plant grows tall, it is a seed that the spring weather encourages to grow. When the plant grows seed and then dies, its seeds produce new life yet again.

I shall rejoice in the new life all around us, and in the life we enjoy in Christ. I trust that all of you will have a Springtime blessed with abundant life.
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I didn't go to church today. As I'm in Marblehead, I felt that I didn't want to be with a lot of people I didn't know in the crowds that normally show up on Easter Day. Instead, I'll go to church on Low Sunday, which ought to be less crowded. Perhaps it'll be a token of my gratitude as I won't have to preach that day. St. John's has invited me to preach on the last three or four Low Sundays, and the Gospel is always the same, Doubting Thomas. Now there is a lot to be said about Doubting Thomas, but I am out of inspiration for the moment and am immensely grateful that I don't have to pull another Easter Bunny out of my Low Sunday biretta.

My brother, Harold, hosted our family today for Easter. His girlfriend, Beth, is a fabulous cook, so we had a great dinner. I cooked creamed onions, but she cooked a large ham, potatoes, a pineapple casserole, something with green beans in it, and brought dips and dessert.

This was also a nice day in that I met her son, Jason, and his fiancée, Clarissa. Now I don't think that Harold and Beth will ever actually get married, but I would like to claim Jason and Clarissa as nephew and niece. I don't have a picture of Clarissa, as she took the picture, but I do have a picture of the family.

Neither my sister nor my brother has had children, so I've never been an uncle. Jason is sitting to my right, with my brother gurning between Jason and me. My sister is in the lower right, and Beth in the lower left.

Jason is ethnic Korean, adopted by Beth at age 1. He is a nurse, about to start a job as a dialysis nurse. Clarissa is about to enter nursing school. She is Filipina. Their family, after they get married, will be a fine-looking one.

Even though I'll never legally be an uncle, it is nice to finally have some family (even an honorary one) other than one sister, one brother, and three first cousins. So I guess an extended family is what the Easter Bunny brought me today. Better than eggs.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
No, I haven't taken leave of my senses. Easter Sunday will still be 8 April, 2012. However, while standing in the checkout queue at Tesco's at the Elephant, I spied, with my little eye, a display of Easter eggs!

Tesco must be running on some other ecclesiastical calendar than the rest of Christendom does. After the excesses of Christmas, and the excesses of New Year's Eve to come tonight, a Cadbury's Creme Egg would be just the thing to top them off. And chocolate bunnies the perfect present for your little one as the clock ticks away toward midnight.

This tops the year when Tesco supplied Christmas puddings starting at the end of August. Those particular puddings had a "best before" date of November that year. If they wouldn't even last until Christmas, why sell them as "Christmas" puddings. Perhaps they should have been "Harvest" puddings.

Note to [ profile] trawnapanda: Luckily, peeps are not sold in this country. So you're safe until you return to the Great White North!
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a gorgeous guy in Toronto who has gotten the spirit of Easter down pat...
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I'm glad that I didn't preach to the readings tonight, but to the occasion. The Vicar hadn't told me what the Gospel was, and I picked the wrong one (Luke) out of the Lectionary. I also managed to preach an Easter sermon and mention Jesus precisely once. Could be a record…

April 3, 2010 Easter Vigil
Sermon delivered at St. John the Evangelist, 7 pm.

In the name of God, the one, the Undivided Trinity. AMEN.

One of the little secrets about Christmas is that we have no evidence that it happened on December 25th, or in December even. Shepherds watching their flocks by night is something that happened mostly in the spring, when the ewes needed help with the lambing and the shepherds thus stuck around the fields to assist should the ewes get into trouble during birth. So if the Gospel narrative is anything to go by, Jesus was born in the spring.

The rest is behind a cut for those who don't like to read sermons )
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...shocked, I tell you!

While shopping in the Elephant and Castle Tesco's today I saw (wait for it) chocolate Easter eggs and Easter bunnies.

Jesus wept!
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Good Friday was quite peaceful, if cold. The entire weekend has been colder than a witch's .... well, you know what. I went to St. John's to preach, and gave my two-minute sermon. We didn't go anywhere in particular on Friday, just chilled (easy enough in this weather).

Saturday we went shopping; I got a pair of shoes at the Natural Shoe Store in Covent Garden. We had lunch at Thai Square on the Strand, as HWMBO wanted some Thai food. I had green curry pasta, and he had just plain green curry. It's not too bad and is filling without being too hot or too expensive. We walked all the way to Goodge Street for a Starbucks that wasn't full, later on.

I got St. Matthew's ready for Sunday services on Saturday evening then went to St. John's for their Easter Vigil. As the weather was horrible (did I forget to mention the hailstorm we had in the afternoon?) we did very little else on Saturday or Sunday.

White Easter indeed...

Today we needed to buy some health food stuff and I suggested that we go to the Embankment and share a footlong Subway sandwich then go to the Holland and Barratt's store there. When we got there, we discovered that a Quiznos has opened there, so since neither of us has tried one, that's where we had lunch. We shared a meatball sub and a chicken sub. Both were very nice; we'll go there again. Off to the Heyward then to see the Russian photography exhibition (pretty boring Russian socialist realism to me, but HWMBO liked it) and the tail end of the Laughter exhibition, which we abandoned 3/4 of the way through last time because there was just so much of it.

Back home again and to dinner, roast chicken with cornbread stuffing and peas. Now to bed, and back to the grind tomorrow.
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It is snowing outside as we speak. I wonder if any of the bookies took bets on a white Easter this year; if so, they have lost a bundle.

Bishop James Jones of Liverpool is preaching on Radio 4 at the moment; he is doing what I try never to do in preaching: he's retelling the reading in his own words. It does suck up time when you have a thin sermon idea, but on Easter?
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HWMBO wanted to see it, so we had choice: Chelsea at 1 pm or the Barbican at 3. We chose the latter, and planned a trip to Waitrose afterwards to pick up such things as light bulbs. Amazingly, Tesco here seems to feel that light bulbs are dispensable at Christmas so clears them out to put in yet another beer display.

Now, I have to say that I hate the Barbican with a passion. It seems to have been designed by a cock-eyed mad monk who mistook a labyrinth for a maze and transplanted the whole damned thing to the City of London. In addition, the signage is confusing, with arrows implying that if you want to get to the Cinema you need to climb up the wall and across the ceiling. Most of the signs keep the existence of the cinema a deep, dark, secret. We walked in on the second floor, went down to the Ground floor, back up to the second, then down to -2 (yes, they have a -1 and -2 floor). We were carefully sold tickets in the centre by a woman who implied that there would be a full house. There were in the end about 25 people (no more) watching the film. The Pearl and Dean advertisements at the beginning features our friend Singapore Alex as an Eskimo shilling for furniture with penguins in the background (who would ever accuse advertising people of being accurate!).

It's a typical Ang Lee, with lots of long shots over scenery and trendy interiors and clothes. The story itself, like most of his other movies, is quite sad and the tension between the two major characters takes up most of the energy in the film. Lee's main difficulty, for me, is that he can't seem to get to the point. He just dithers and dallies and the film ends up being 2-3/4 hours long. I didn't go to sleep, but it dragged and dragged. There is one scene with lots of blood, and two or three sex scenes between the two major characters. She has nipples like those on a baby's bottle.

HWMBO gave it 8.5 out of 10. I could only muster 7 out of 10 and that pretty reluctantly.

Were very gay this evening and had quiche and salad for dinner. I feel like that QueerCard[TM] is about to land in my mailbox any day now.

Note: I believed that I saw chocolate bunnies in Tesco's last week, thus making Tesco the first store to sell Easter candy around here. I misstated, and hereby apologise. On closer inspection, they turned out to be reindeer. However, the shape is so bunnylike that I bet they'll use the same molds to make the Easter bunnies, and they'll appear soon. Very soon. Once Peeps start appearing in the stores here, it will be the End of British Civilisation As We Know It.

Be Afraid!

Be VERY Afraid!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...a seasonal URL for your delectation, here.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
On January 2, in this post, I mentioned that soon the Easter eggs would be on the shelves.

Well, yesterday, coming home from the gym, I stopped off in Tesco's on Kennington Lane for some stuff for dinner. What did I see?

You guessed it. Chocolate bunnies, ready for Easter.


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