Holy Week II: Faith tested to the end —

The Triduum (Three Days) . . .

Thursday, Friday and Saturday – is a distinct moment, part of the “Pasch” (to suffer) itself, not part of Lent, but the very time for which Lent is meant to prepare us, i.e. Lent prepares us for the cross, the byway to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb, Easter – that for which we strive and remember until it happens.

  • The theology of suffering and salvation is why Christians celebrate Easter on a different day than the Jewish community celebrates Passover every year. The Easter liturgy is the center point and character of the Christian remembrance practice.
  • But, on the other hand, the image of Christianity as bearer of hope has often disappeared under the emphasis on the cross rather than being heightened by the image of the empty tomb.

Mundy Thursday . . . The day of gifts given and gifts taken away; a study in mixed emotions

 Collect: Almighty Father whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:  Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries give us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (BCP p221)

Exodus 12:1-4 (5-10), 11-14 . . . instructions are given, and the meaning of the Passover meal is told:  it is a remembrance and reenactment of Israel’s beginnings as a people when they were saved out of slavery in Egypt.
Psalm 116:1-2,12-19 . . . An offering of thanksgiving and praise by one who has been rescued from death.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 . . . Paul recalls the tradition he received concerning the supper of the Lord on the night he was betrayed.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 . . . Jesus washes his disciples’ feet during his last meal with them

Good Friday . . . after the glory of Thursday, the saddest day of the liturgical year.

  • Are we willing to lovingly and boldly walk in the midst of all the selfishness, hatred and fear that surrounds us (to pick up our cross and follow Jesus)?
  • The fast whets the need for the return of Christ in our own lives.

Collect: Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (BCP p221)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 . . . the poem of the Lord’s servant who suffers and bears the sins of many.
Psalm 22 . . . A psalm of lamentation and plea for deliverance by one who feels deserted and pressed in on every side, expressing final confidence in God’s goodness.
Hebrews 10:16-25 . . . God has established the promised new covenant through which our sins are forgiven and God; laws are written on our hearts
 John 18:1-19:42 . . . the story of Jesus’ trials before the Jewish council and Pilate, followed by his suffering and death.

Holy Saturday: The Loss that is Gain . . .

“The day nobody talks about.  Jesus is absent, our inner light is out, all hope seems to have died and there are no liturgical assemblies until night fall. 

On this day faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing in hope. For we know now that without Jesus, there is for us no bridge to God Once we knew, looking at him, what we ourselves were meant to be, as well, if we were to be fully human at all.

There is the hope that we can begin, finally, to see the world as God sees the world and so trust that God is indeed everywhere in everything at all times – in the abstruse as well as the luminous, whether we ourselves can see the hand of God in this moment or not.

To be able to come to that point before the beginning of Easter Vigil, before the cantor sings the Exultet into the darkness, is what Holy Saturday is really all about.  Then loss is gain, and silence is a very clear message from God.”  Joan Chittister. In “The Liturgical Year” Chapter 24, pp 152 – 157

Collect: O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (BCP p221)

Job 14:1-14 . . . Job reflects on the brevity of human life.
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 . . . A song of trust by one who looks to the Lord for mercy and protection
1 Peter 4:1-8 . . . Believers are encouraged to live devoted to the will of God, steering clear of all forms of dissipation.
John 19:38-42 . . . Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus’ body for burial according to custom.


Holy Week I: Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday –  our hope to match the suffering

The first days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.


Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not us to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (BCP p220)

Isaiah 42:1-9 . . . the mission of the Lord’s servant, the one whom God has chosen to bring forth justice and salvation

Psalm 36:5-11 . . . the expansive love of God expressed in faithfulness and justice.  God is a river of delight in whose light we see light.

Hebrews 9:11-15 . . .  Christ has inaugurated a new covenant, accomplishing all that was anticipated by the rites and rituals of the first covenant, that is, redemption from sin and transgression and the purification of conscience for the right worship of the living God.

John 12:1-11 . . . Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly perfume.


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life:  Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (BCP p220)

Isaiah 49:1-7 . . . The servant of the Lord reflects movingly on his mission – its sorrows and frustration – and God’s high calling and promise to be with him.

Psalm 71:1-14 . . . God will continue to be my refuge and stronghold

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 . . .  Paul directs the attention of the Corinthians to God’s way of using what is weak and lowly – even what the world regards as foolish – to accomplish the divine purposes.

John 12:20-36 . . . Jesus presents teaching concerning the meaning of his death.  After his prayer to God a voice from heaven is heard.


Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon:  Give us grace to accept joyfully and sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (BCP p220)

Isaiah 50: 4-9a . . . the servant who speaks for the Lord and suffers persecution, but still trust in God’s help and vindication.

Psalm 70 . . . help and vindication

Hebrews 13:1-3 . . . The author exhorts hearers to persevere in the face of adversity.

John 13:21-32 . . . Jesus is troubled by the knowledge of Judas’ impending betrayal but tells his disciples that God is at work in the glorification of the Son of Man.

The scriptures of the opening days of Holy week prepare us in another way for the approaching end of Jesus’ life – and our own.

Readings and Sermons for Palm Sunday

Collect: Palm Sunday

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

The Liturgy of the Palms

Luke 19:28-40 . . . Jesus, his long journey finally over, approaches the holy city of Jerusalem, while his disciples hail him as the king who comes in the Lord’s name.

Psalm 118 1-2, 19-29 . . . A festivals hymn sung in procession in praise of the Lord’s salvation

A Sermon for every Sunday: “needing a donkey?”
Jim Somerville says “I was not very good at Math as a student, but every once in a while, I got a problem right,” Somerville says. On Palm Sunday the crowds got it right; they celebrated Jesus as the King that he was, shouting “Hosanna!” and welcoming him to the capital city.
The Liturgy of the Passion
“(There is quite a) distance between apparent public success and personal commitment.   Jesus stays the course until the end, we see, and so must we, despite all other pressures, both internal and social, to the contrary. .  .  .  (Here) we trace the struggle, one scene at a time, between the Word of God and the ways of the world.
Joan Chittister

Isaiah 50:4-9. . . Our reading tells of the servant who speaks for the Lord and suffers persecution, but still trust in God’s help and vindication.

Psalm 31:9-16 . . . A psalm of trust by one who looks to the Lord for mercy and protection.

Philippians 2:5-11 . . . From one of the earliest Christian hymns we hear how Christ Jesus accepted the condition of a servant, was  obedient even to the  of death, and was then given the name above every name.

Luke 23:1-49 . . .  the story of the events of Jesus’ final hours: his arrest, trial, passion, and death.

Palm Sunday Homily at the Cathedral,

Bishop Robert Barron

Readings and Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

“To follow Jesus is to live, no matter how many deaths we face in life.”

Joan Chittister

Collect: Fifth Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners:  Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Isaiah 43:16-21 . . . The same Lord who brought the people through the Red Sea waters and crushed the army of the Egyptians will do a new thing in this day when God will bring the people home through the wilderness.

Psalm 126 . . . A song of hope and jy sung to the Lord, who restores the fortunes of Go’s people

Philippians 3:4b-14 . . . The apostle Paul can boast of his religious background yet nothing matters in comparison with knowing Christ as his Lord.

John 12: 1-8 . . . Jesus, but a few days before his passion, is at supper with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary when Mary anoints his feet with costly ointment

There was a place called Bethany…the house of the afflicted,” begins Rachel May, pastor of Boulevard United Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia. In John 12:1-8, Jesus is at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus…

Readings and Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

“(God) invites us to open our eyes, too, to be willing to begin again, to forget the past — however bad it has been for us — and come back to God knowing that mercy is already ours.”
Joan Chittister

Collect: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread,  that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

Joshua 5:9-12

Psalm 32

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Luke 15:1-3, 16-32

Why does the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 resonate with so many of us? Carla Pratt Keyes, pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, says, “I think its the way this story taps into the human yearning for home. Home as more than a place, but home as yearning to belong, to be known and loved, to be whole.” How do we go home again?  By walking the way of forgiveness.  But where do we find the courage and humility to walk that road?

Readings and Sermon for Third Sunday in Lent

“If we are to fullfill the Gospel ourselves, we have some witnessing, some cleansing, and some extra work of our own to do, in this life.” Joan Chittister

Collect: Third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves:  Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Isaiah55: 1-9

Psalm 63

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Luke 13:1-9

A sermon from Luke 13:1-9 for the Third Sunday in Lent by the Rev. Rachel May, Pastor of Boulevard United Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia

Second Sunday in Lent

Collect: Second Sunday in Lent

    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, forever and ever.  Amen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Genesis 15-12, 17-18 

God’s Covenant with Abram

15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”[a] And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord[b] reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

Psalm 27

Triumphant Song of Confidence of David

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
    they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent  sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
    be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, do I seek.
   Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger,  you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,  O God of my salvation!

10 If my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of theLord in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

Philippians 3:17-4:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

17 Brothers and sisters,[a] join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship[b] is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation[c] that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,[d] by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[e] whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Luke 13:31-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lament over Jerusalem

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,[a] ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when[b] you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Luke 9:28-36 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus[a]took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake,[b] they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[c] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen;[d] listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

A Sermon

Will Willimon believes that you can tell a great deal about people by what they consider to be humorous, funny, and delightful. However, he also believes that “grief, tears, and lament, are unfailing indicators of what we value most.” In today’s passage, Luke 13:31-35, Jesus laments over the state of Jerusalem. Jesus does not lament over Herod’s plans for him or over his eventual fate in Jerusalem, but over the state of Jerusalem. What can we learn from Jesus’ lament? And when is the last time you wept over your own city? FREE high-definition downloads suitable for projecting in worship are available on our website at

21st Sunday After Pentecost


Work for Justice, Release our Attachment and Trust Jesus to form Us into a People of Compassion.

Collect: Proper 23

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Job 23:1-9, 16-17. . .  Job  wants God to hear his case in person.

Psalm 22:1-15 . . . The Cry of the Forsaken

Hebrews 4:12-16 . . . only through Jesus can the kingdom come — as our apostle and high priest, he builds us into “God’s house.”

Mark 10:17-31 . . . Jesus advises a wealthy man who seeks God to obey God’s commandments and to detach from his possessions and focus fully on God.

A Sermon by The Rev. Jason Micheli, Pastor of Annandale United Methodist Church in Annandale, Virginia.  The Ten Commandments in relationship to the gospel. 

20th Sunday after Pentecost

The richness of interdependence

Collect: Proper 22

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Job 1:1, 2:1-10 . . . stricken with suffering by Satan to test his faithfulness to God.

Psalm 26 . . . A Prayer For Level Ground


Genesis 2:18-24 & Psalm 8 . . .  describes the complementary nature of man and woman as God originally intended it at creation.

Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 . . . the relationship of Jesus to God, to God’s creation and to humanity.

Mark 10:2-16 . . . the importance of caring for those most likely to be abandoned

Jim Somerville, Pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church and Co-Founder of A Sermon for Every Sunday, preaches this week’s Gospel text from Mark 10:2-16. “There are times when the lectionary forces the preacher to consider texts he or she would rather avoid,” Somerville says. “This Sunday is one of those times.” Is divorce a sin? Is re-marriage adultery? Don’t we wish Jesus had kept these thoughts to himself?