The 2nd Sunday In Lent – Reminiscere

Holy Eucharist, Rite II

February 28, 2021

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 The Celebrant and LEM stand, maintaining physical distance. There is no procession.

Opening Rites

 

Celebrant:       Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

LEM:               And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.

 

Celebrant:      Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: 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:    Lord have mercy.
LEM:           Christ have mercy.
Celebrant:    Lord have mercy

 

 Opening Hymn:  The God of Abraham Praise                      Hymnal 1982  #401

The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;

Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love;

the Lord, the great I AM, by earth and heaven confessed:

we bow and bless the sacred Name for ever blest.

 

He by himself hath sworn: we on his oath depend;

we shall, on eagle-wings upborne, to heaven ascend:

we shall behold his face, we shall his power adore,

and sing the wonders of his grace for evermore.

 

The Collect of the Day

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,
LEM:           And also with you.
Celebrant:      Let us pray.

 

The Celebrant says the Collect.

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

The Lessons[1]

The Old Testament Lesson                                                Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 

 15God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

 

LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

  

Psalm of the Day:                                                            Psalm 22:23-31

23You who fear the LORD, praise him!
 All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
 stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
 24For he did not despise or abhor
 the affliction of the afflicted;
 he did not hide his face from me,
 but heard when I cried to him.
 25From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
 my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
 26The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
 those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
 May your hearts live forever!
 27All the ends of the earth shall remember
 and turn to the LORD;
 and all the families of the nations
 shall worship before him.
 28For dominion belongs to the LORD,
 and he rules over the nations.
 29To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
 before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
 and I shall live for him.
 30Posterity will serve him;
 future generations will be told about the LORD,
 31and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
 saying that he has done it.

 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

 

The New Testament Lesson:                                              Romans 4:13-25

13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.


16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

 LEM:           The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:    Thanks be to God.

 

 Gradual Hymn: The Glory of These Forty Days                                           Hymnal 1982 #143

The glory of these forty days

we celebrate with songs of praise;

for Christ, through whom all things were made,

himself has fasted and has prayed.

 

Alone and fasting Moses saw

the loving God who gave the law;

and to Elijah, fasting, came

the steeds and chariots of flame.

 

The Gospel:                                                                      Mark 8:31-38

Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

                                        

Celebrant:       The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

LEM:              Glory to you, Lord Christ.

 

31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

 

Priest:      The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:       Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

 The Sermon: “Remember, Remember”[2]

(The printed sermon text may differ from the spoken sermon)

One of life’s more ironic features is that it is easy to forget the things we want to remember, and nigh on impossible not to remember the things we want to forget. I’d love to know where I left my spare car keys or the most recent copy of Elaine Pagel’s book Beyond Belief. That’s a book where she describes how the Gospel of Thomas was written as a rejoinder and in part a corrective to the Gospel of John, and was suppressed by the ancient church for just that reason. I’ve bought, loaned, given away, and otherwise lost that book so many times I’ve lost count; it’s a great teaching tool. Where is it now? No idea. Yes, I looked in all the usual places: desks, bookshelves, behind bookshelves, various seating areas, kitchen cabinets, suit pockets. Nada. Don’t remember and can’t remember when I last did. But that one time Danny Mitchell pushed me into the snow in 4th grade because I’d reported him the principal because he was harassing 1st graders on their walk home from school? I can’t forget that, how the snow hurt, how red my face turned, how even the 1st graders laughed at me. Not to mention 9th grade passim, especially the wincing, rising-sap adolescent moments. I’ll be an old man set out to graze in a home called something like Shepherds’ Rest, unable to remember where even my teeth are, let alone my eyeglasses, and memories like that will still be hanging around like the thorn in flesh of the side of the apostle Paul. Suzie, I’m sorry for being such a disappointment when we were fourteen. Danny, may your porchlight ever flicker at inopportune times, and your favorite shoes spring a leak in the rain. But enough about me.

Today, ironically, is Remembrance Sunday, 2nd Lent – Reminiscere, in Latin, from which we get our word “reminisce”. The irony is that no-one remembers that this is its name, or why. An friend of mine from County Cork once told me that Remembrance Sunday was named that so that the Irish would recall the warmth of summer and the taste of food, both in short supply in that island’s winters. That’s a good a reason as any, I suppose. Even in gest, famine jokes sting, reminding us that the essence of memory is, or at least is supposed to be, the continuity of truth. What happened happened, and not something else. Recalling what it was, and remembering exactly how it felt, is key to any understanding of it. Call to mind those who seek to make us forget what actually happened at a major historical event or forget how we felt and what we knew it then to mean. Changing what we remember, and even whether we do, is a form of deceit. Rewriting the past to cover up or deface the truth cannot be called anything other than a lie.

The corollary of this statement is also true: we must work to understand the past fully and truthfully, shedding ignorance and illusions about it, so that we bring into the light what was hidden in darkness at the time, or just after the time, typically by people who knew exactly what they were doing. The mis-education that Suzie, Danny, and I received up and through high school in this country about pretty much everything to do with enslaved persons, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the struggle for civil rights and why, as they say, we must still say Black Lives Matter and expect abuse from certain quarters for doing so was by someone’s design, and those who lied to us knew they were doing so. Learning all that I did not know, from the horrors of Wilmington in 1898 to those of Tulsa in 1921, has opened my eyes, helping me see in a metaphorical way what the man born blind must’ve seen when Jesus opened his eyes. So this is the world, he must’ve reflected. It is more beautiful, & more hideous than I thought possible. How can this be?

Today’s readings offer three different reflections on the power of memory. In the gospel, Jesus has to tell Peter, smartly, to remember why he is here. He has come to suffer and to die, and in so doing to save the world from itself, and humanity from its worst. Peter may not understand how that will work – I’m not sure I do, either – but he must remember that it will, or all this, Jesus fears, will be for naught. “Your life is not forever,” he might as well have said. “Make sure you spend it in ways that are worthy of the incredible gift that it is, while you can.”

In Romans, Paul, not yet to the point of that thorn in his side, is trying to remind people of what their faith means, and why it matters. That’s an odd thing to list under “Things to Remember.” Paul is teaching a new thing, and a new way of understanding what all the children of Abraham have long since thought they understood: how to be faithful to God. They had not always understood the practices of their religion as acts of faith, though they were. They had not always understood that all those acts of faith were meant to lead somewhere and help them keep their heads up, expect that tomorrow would be better than today, and then work to make it so. They were not, under any circumstances, to give up or to despair – even when it all seemed impossible, all hope lost, all paths stony and broken. Faith should do that for people, Paul realized. That’s what it’s meant to do, and Christ was meant to make it do so for everyone. He thought that people, once hearing this truth, would leap for joy at it and believe, hope once more. Some did, but many did not. Paul saw in their eyes and heard in their voices the true depths of sin, of despair: the inability to hope in anything, to risk imagining that things could be better tomorrow than they are today, for everyone, at any time and in all.

Faith, hope, call it what you will: it’s all about the promise and the fulfillment – the dream, and realizing the dream. “If God makes a promise, God will fulfill it – even when it looks impossible” is Paul’s takeaway from the story of Abraham and Sarah, as we heard in the lesson from Romans. Sure: Paul makes the Genesis narrative too neat by half, but the power of faith is no less because of it. Those who wrote the stories in Genesis down – there were many such writers, and they did not always agree – those who wrote the stories down wanted to make sure we didn’t forget them, either. Paul could write what he wrote only because the writers of Genesis wrote what they wrote. They could write what they wrote because people had remembered them – the stories, that is. For hundreds of years they had remembered them. Why? Because they mattered. The stories defined them, showed them who they were. The people told and then wrote these tales and lessons, these promises and dreams so that they might not be lost in the midst of exile or the mists of time, would remember who they were, who they were to remain, and who they were to become. Was that not faith itself, equal to that of Abram and Sarai? Faith, or hope – they are much the same – is, as these stories show us, at the heart of resilience and shrewdness, enabling them and us to endure the unendurable and imagine the unimaginable. “It was credited to [them] as righteousness,” Paul writes, to hope in this way – that is, to believe in this way and to act on it, unwavering even in the face of scorn. “Keep your eyes on the prize,” the saying goes; that way you’ll always remember where you’re going – and why.

Often, we do not know where we are going. Even when we have a clear goal in mind, we do not always know how to get there. Even when we know where we’re going and how to get there, we can get lost on the road, distracted on the way. You may not be as weak as me who, heading out intending for the gym, manages instead to walk in the opposite direction around the lake to where the pizza parlor is, but you get the idea. We may hope to be like the heroes of our faith, the Abrahams, the Sarahs, the Pauls, with their hope-faith bright as the morning star. We can be, and we know it, but more often we’re like Peter in today’s gospel. We want to do the right thing, but may be confused as to what the right thing is. Jesus, to my ears, is a bit sharp with him; “Get thee behind me, Satan,” indeed. But the larger point, that we should set our minds on divine things and not human things, is a wise one – even if human things must be somehow in the image of divine things, if we are ourselves made the image of the divine. Yet to see things only as people do is, in the end, to have a tragic sense of life, aware that it ends and suspecting, deep down, that because of this, it is futile.

Ironically, it may have been just that thought that Peter had when he confronted Jesus in this gospel. He’s only saying what Jesus’s other disciples were already thinking. If you know they’re going to kill you, don’t let them. If you know where they plan to do it, don’t go there. “And after three days rise again” they would’ve heard delusional, if they heard it at all, just one more Jesus-ism that freaked them out, one more instance of how this paragon of strength and virtue had a death wish or a craving for martyrdom, just like his cousin John the Baptizer. Y’all remember how that ended – with John’s head on a platter in Herod’s dining room. Apparently Jesus is bent on the same kind of tragic end, only he knows it, and won’t do even try to stop it. What a waste that would be. Why can’t he see that? Just what in blazes is wrong with the man?

So Peter confronted him: do not go gentle into that good night, as the poet writes. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. It sounds reasonable to me, and probably to all of them, and Jesus knew it. He also felt it, felt how those words sounded as good as all the other temptations of Satan, from last week. Admit that there is no hope, Jesus, only life going on until it doesn’t anymore. Save yourself for as long as you can, because there’s nothing more you can do for them or for yourself. Take over and make things right if you have to; make your one life count and they’ll sing songs about you and tell stories about you forever. You can do this; get rid of the satraps and sycophants, the liars and the toadies, the backsliders and the back-biters, the cruel, the vain, the selfish, the greedy, and all those who with blood on their hands claw their way to the top of this stinking human rat-race and be done with it. I told your Father the same thing, Satan probably said, and for a while there, the Old Man actually listened; have you read “Job?” Humanity’s a failure, an even more embarrassing screw-up than the platypus or the avocado. The sooner we admit it, the sooner we can get on to making a better world without them.

But: keep your eyes on the prize. They are worth it, Jesus knew in his heart. They are worth saving, and worth dying to save if that is what it takes. They don’t have to be the way they are; human evil is not inevitable, even if they are prone to weakness and were born to die. So are the lilies of the field, yet even Solomon in all his glory is not crowned as one of these. Their lives can be beautiful because they are limited, and they can be all the better for their being able to choose the good freely, and being free to love openly, to learn, to teach, to heal, to inspire, and to put the time that they have to good use, and be remembered for that. Each has within a spark of divinity – I know, Jesus said; I put it there. I must help them bring it forth, lest it destroy them. I must show them how to bring it forth, so that it might shine before them. I must go up to Jerusalem to let them do their worst, so that they’ll see my best can get the better of it. We’ll settle this once and for all, Satan. Get thee behind; we’re moving on.

If you’re keeping score: that’s hope, faith, and love: 1; despair: 0: His hope, for us. His faith, in us. His love as our love, forever. People will remember. God will remember. It’s what He made us for, after all – and what he made us with. If you forget everything else I’ve said today, remember that. Remember that.

Amen

         

There is no passing of plates or reception of gifts.

The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.

The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues

 

The Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God, begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made human.
  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

The Prayers of the People

The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.

I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.

Silence

I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.

Silence

I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.

Silence

I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.

Silence

I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.

Silence

I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.

Silence

The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.

The Peace

The People stand.

Celebrant:  The peace of the Lord be always with you,

LEM:          And also with you.

The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance.

 

The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,

LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:    Lift up your hearts.

LEM:           We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant:    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

LEM:           It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.

LEM: Glory to you for ever and ever.

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, stars, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.

LEM: By your will they were created and have their being.

From the water, earth, and sky you brought forth the human race, blessing us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, betrayed your trust, and turned against one another.

LEM: Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.

Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets and sages you revealed your will and your law. Then, in the fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to fulfill your will and your law, opening for us the way of freedom and peace.

LEM: By his blood, he reconciled us. By his wounds, we are healed.

Therefore we praise you, joining with the heavenly chorus, with prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and with all who have looked to you in hope, to proclaim your glory:

The LEM continues

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.                     
        Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord.  
        Hosanna in the highest.

The Celebrant continues

And now, Father, we who have been redeemed by him and made a new people by water and the Spirit, bring before you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Celebrant and People hold the elements in their various vessels. The Celebrant continues

On the night he was betrayed, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”

After supper, he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, 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 in memory of me.”

Remembering his work of redemption, and offering this sacrifice of thanksgiving:

LEM    We celebrate his death and resurrection as we await his coming.

The Celebrant continues

Lord God of our Fathers and Mothers: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God of Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.

LEM: Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread.

Accept these prayers and praises, O Lord, through Jesus Christ our great High Priest, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor, glory, and worship, from generation to generation. AMEN.

 Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,

The LEM prays

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,
    for ever and ever. Amen.


The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence. The Celebrant continues

Celebrant:       Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

LEM:                Therefore, let us keep the feast. 
Celebrant:      The Gifts of God for the People of God.

The People consume their gifts. After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.  The Celebrant prays

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Blessing and Dismissal

The Celebrant says

           The Lord bless you and keep you.

           The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.

           The Lord be with you, this day and always, and give you peace.

 

The LEM says

            Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

 

Withdrawal Hymn: Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus                     Hymnal 1982, # 495

Hail, thou once despiséd Jesus!

Hail, thou Galilean King!

Thou didst suffer to release us;

thou didst free salvation bring.

Hail, thou universal Savior,

bearer of our sin and shame!

By thy merit we find favor:

life is given through thy Name

 

Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,

all our sins on thee were laid:

by almighty love anointed,

thou hast full atonement made.

All thy people are forgiven

through the virtue of thy blood:

opened is the gate of heaven,

reconciled are we with God.

 

The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.

 

We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.

 

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904

office@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002


The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge

rector@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator

administrator@stmarks-silverspring.org  * 301-622-5860 ext. 1003

Beresford Coker, Musical Director

Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant

Lee Mericle, Senior Warden

Rosanne Tingley, Junior Warden

 

For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:

www.stmarksfairland.org

www.stmarks-silverspring.org

 

[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/.

The table for readings in Year B (Epiphany) may be found here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=B&season=Epiphany.

[2] Sermon text © 2021 Christopher Wilkins. All rights reserved.


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