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A Meditation

Jesus wants to give some perspective—a splash of cold water—to his followers awed by the city of Jerusalem, and particularly the Temple. Just in from the country, people were observing that the city was indestructible. Jesus knew that everything could be broken down. The Temple indeed was mammoth. Down through time, people have wondered how the largest of the Temple’s foundation stones could have even been hewn, moved, and set into place. Many of the largest of the stones are still in place after 2,000 years. By the same token, other stones that were just right beside, now lie crimped, crumbled, and crushed. Jesus taught his followers that what is visible and seemingly impregnable can be fragile and transitory.

Don’t pay attention to, or hoard what we see around us. Jesus repeatedly admonished that we should focus only on God because God is the only thing we can depend upon. Moreover, understands that we ourselves, our possessions, our traditions, and reputations, and all else that we see as durable is just as transitory as it can be.

Jesus felt it was crucial to warn people that they needed to be prepared to be shocked. We know that in about 40 years after Jesus, the Roman armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple so thoroughly that it would be difficult to convince bystanders that the mighty, imposing city had been there, even if they were standing on its very spot. Again and again, Jesus taught that we should not hang onto earthly things, but rather only to heavenly things.

Jesus wanted to issue warnings to assist his followers in calibrating their expectations. They themselves would be caught up in the earthquakes and rebellions. The future for the troubled Promised Land and the newly constituted Christian church would be one of fire, blood, and war. Hold fast to God. That, truly, is the only thing you can lash yourselves to without getting swept away.

Pastor Neil

Gathering

Celebrant ☩ Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People     And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever.

Amen.

 

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Celebrant         Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 

The Collect of the Day

 Celebrant         The Lord be with you.

People                And also with you.

Celebrant          Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

The Liturgy of the Word

Old Testament:  THE LESSON Isaiah 65:17-25

For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;

for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;

no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;

for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;

for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;

for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord–
and their descendants as well.

Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!

They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

Reader     The Word of the Lord.

People     Thanks be to God.

The Canticle will be recited together

Canticle 9: The First Song of Isaiah, Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; * I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, * and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing * from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say, * Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples; * see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, * and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, * for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

The Gospel

Celebrant        The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Luke.

People             Glory to you, O Lord.

 

Luke 21:5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and, `The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So, make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord. People      Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

Sermon                                          Pastor O’Farrell

 

The Apostles’ Creed

Celebrant and People together, all standing
I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.                                            

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

 Celebrant       In calling forth creation from the void, God you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.

 Lay Reader     Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world. Equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Intercede and bring peace to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East, and the streets of Baltimore. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

 Help those suffering from mental illness, broken families, and homelessness. Protect Mother Earth from human neglect and destruction. Protect animals and species in danger from human selfishness, greed, and misadventure. This must break your heart as much as it breaks ours. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Create changed hearts within us. Help us to become our best selves, as you created us to be. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Burn out all that is evil in us. Consecrate us for holy service. Empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for our personal missions. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Renew the faith of all who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace to a fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders, and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Be with those who are dying and ill, their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by the reality of their lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We especially pray for those we silently name now. (Pause) Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

 Celebrant Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 Celebrant Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbors.

 

Silence will be kept

 

Minister and People Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

 

Celebrant Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

 

The Peace

 Celebrant  The peace of the Lord be always with you.

People     And also with you.

 

 

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

Celebrant      The Lord be with you.

People              And also with you.

Celebrant         Lift up your hearts.

People              We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant         Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People              It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

Celebrant         It is indeed right and salutary that we should— in all times and in all places—give thanks to you, Almighty Father, through Jesus Christ your son. For by water and the Holy Spirit, you have made us a new people in Jesus Christ our Savior, to show forth your glory in all the world. Therefore, we praise your name and join angels and archangels by saying:

 Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself. When we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you in your mercy sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole
world.

On the night before his death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

 

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanks- giving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. ☩ Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. ☩ Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace. And at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.

 By him, and with him, and in him,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit

all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father,

now and forever. Amen.

 

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

 

the Lord’s Prayer

 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 those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

The Call to Communion

Celebrant   The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

 Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.

 

The General Thanksgiving

Celebrant         Almighty and everliving God,

 All   We thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom. And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen

 

The Blessing

Celebrant         Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering; do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Dismissal

 Celebrant         Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People              Thanks be to God.

Additional Information about the cover art

 Almost invariably, the pictures on the front of these bulletins comprise objects classified as “fine arts”—something you would most often see in a museum or an ancient library. Paintings, sculptures, prints, watercolors. I would put architecture also in the fine arts category, although others would dispute my doing that. This week we feature a mosaic. Mosaics have been included on bulletin covers over the years because they most definitely achieve the highest, rarest, and most sublime examples of a particular kind of fine arts. Yet, the cover this week is none of that. Rather, the illustration is of a mosaic that is a map. Understanding this map requires some history.

Roman rule over Jerusalem and Judea was challenged in the First Jewish–Roman War (66-73 CE), which ended with a Roman victory. Early on, the city had been devastated by a brutal civil war between several Jewish factions fighting for control of the city. In 70 CE, the Romans obliterated Jerusalem and the Temple. The contemporary Jewish historian Josephus wrote that the city “was so thoroughly razed to the ground by those that demolished it to its foundations, that nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation.” Of the many hundreds of thousands of Jews of Jerusalem, all of them either died of starvation, were killed, or were sold into slavery.

Emperor Hadrian built a new city in the place where Jerusalem had stood, renamed Aelia Capitolina, in the style of a typical Roman town. Jews were prohibited from entering the city on pain of death. Taken together, these measures (which also affected Jewish Christians) essentially “secularized” the city. The ban was maintained until the 7th century, though Christians would soon be granted an exemption: during the 4th century, the Roman emperor Constantine I ordered the construction of Christian holy sites in the city, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Burial remains from the Byzantine period are exclusively Christian, suggesting that the population of Jerusalem in Byzantine times probably consisted only of Christians. The mural map of the new Jerusalem depicts the Cardo (main market street) during the Byzantine period.

The map, is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George, located in present-day Jerusalem. The Madaba map depicts part of the Middle East and contains the oldest surviving depiction of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. It dates to the sixth century CE. The Madaba map was dedicated in 542. The mosaic was made by unknown artists, probably for the Christian community of Madaba, which was the seat of a bishop at that time. The mosaic has experienced centuries of degradation, and only remnants remain. Greek letters within the map identify the buildings and place names depicted. Originally, it measured 68 by 22 feet and  contained more than two million glass chips. Its current dimensions are 52 by 16 feet.

The original map depicted an area from Lebanon in the north to the Nile Delta in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Eastern Desert. Among other features, it depicts the Dead Sea with two fishing boats, a variety of bridges linking the banks of the Jordan, fish swimming in the river and receding from the Dead Sea; a lion hunting a gazelle in the Moab desert, and palm-ringed Jericho, Bethlehem, and other biblical-Christian sites. The map may partially have served to facilitate pilgrims’ orientation in the Holy Land. All landscape units are labelled with explanations in Greek. It depicts approximately 150 towns and villages, all of them labelled.

The largest and most detailed element is Jerusalem at the center of the map. The mosaic clearly shows a number of significant structures in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Damascus Gate, the Lions’ Gate, the Golden Gate, the Zion Gate, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; the New Church of the Theotokos, the Tower of David, and the Cardo Maximus.

The mosaic map of Madaba is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history. It has been used heavily for the localization and verification of biblical sites.

In 1967, excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem revealed the Nea Church and the Cardo Maximus in the very locations suggested by the Madaba map. In February 2010, excavations further substantiated its accuracy with the discovery of a road depicted in the map that runs through the center of Jerusalem. According to the map, the main entrance to the city was through a large gate opening into a wide central street. Until the discovery, archaeologists were not able to excavate this site due to heavy pedestrian traffic. In the wake of infrastructure work near the Jaffa Gate, large paving stones were discovered at a depth of four meters below ground that prove such a road existed.

Pastor Neil