Easter Sunday

Deacon Blaine Barclay

April 21, 2019

What does it mean to confront the empty tomb? How are we to encounter the Risen Lord? The Easter gospel readings are not just stories from a long time ago, about something that happened to other people in the past. Mary Magdalen, Peter, John, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Thomas.  These texts were written for us, to invite each one of us into the same decisive Encounter with our living Lord, Jesus Christ.

Each one of is called to be Mary Magdalen. Having stood with Jesus at the foot of the Cross, when almost everybody else ran away in fear of their own crosses, she love him to the end, and into the first day of the new creation. Having not yet seen the empty tomb, she shows up on that first Easter morning with oils and herbs to care for him even in death. A tender love, accompanied by a bottomless grief. With tears so thick that they blind her from seeing the Risen Jesus. Is this not true for us as well, that our grieving hides from us sometimes, its comfort and its healing? ‘He is not here, he is Risen’. But, so far he is still absent. Where have you taken him? Mary Magdalen asks. But, do not be afraid, it takes only a Word from Jesus, to shatter our deafness, to lay aside the veil of our tears. “Mary”, he says, and in the hearing of her name, called by Jesus, comes the moment of recognition. ‘Rabounni, Teacher’. Call and Response. The risen Jesus knows my name, he calls me by name. Likewise, each one of us. He sees us, he knows us, he speaks us into being, and we are made alive in this speech event, this moment of mutual recognition. The one who made us by his Word, now names us by this same Word. And sends us to be witnesses. ‘Go tell my brothers and sisters’. Witness to the witnesses, sent to those who are sent. Mary Magdalen, and each one of us, called to give apostolic testimony to the dynamite of the Risen Jesus, on this first day of the new creation.
We are also called to be the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The Glory of the Resurrection is an excess of Light. It overturns the so called sovereignty of death and darkness in our lives. ‘I was blind, but now I see’. The Resurrection of Jesus is the founding event of the New Creation, the 8th Day. ‘Behold, I make all thing new’. For the disciples on the road, and for us on our journey, there is an apprenticeship of Faith, a pedagogy of discipleship, a pattern of growth into what it means to die and rise with Christ in our new Baptismal life. The gradual unveiling of the identity of Christ on the Road to Emmaus prefigures what takes place for us in every celebration of mass.

First, Jesus meets us where we are, along the way, pilgrims on a journey, overcome by our sadness and our fears. Jesus walks with us and, before he teaches us,  he asks, what were you discussing, as you walked along the road? Jesus breaks into our lives ‘in media res’, in the middle of things, in the middle of our walking, talking, lives together. Jesus comes to us, like he came to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, even when we don’t at first recognize him. Welcoming this stranger Jesus into the journey and conversation of our lives.

On Emmaus road what does Jesus do next? Jesus unpacks the Scriptures for them and for us. He who is the Word interprets the Word, so that we can meet him there on the sacred page, now interwoven into the story of our lives. And even though our hearts are burning within us as we enter into the mystery of his Word about the Word. Still, we don’t recognize him, except as a stranger when we welcome him to stay with us, to eat with us.

I love, in the story of Emmaus , how Jesus pretends that he is going further, in order to give the disciples the opportunity to recognize him in the act of hospitality.
Next comes the decisive moment of Encounter, the Recognition of the Risen Lord. We sit at table with this one who is still a stranger to us. Then, he says the blessing, the berakoth,  ‘Blessed are you  O Lord our God, who brings forth bread from the earth’. He Breaks the Bread and we recognize his transfigured broken body. He is Risen, he is Risen indeed! The transforming moment of recognition. We have seen the Risen Lord. Resurrection, this surplus of presence, even as it recedes in the very moment of its overflowing.  What do the disciples do? What are we to do with this Empty tomb, this Risen Jesus in our midst? What can we do, with such glad tidings, good news, gospel, evangelion, except to run the risk, to run in haste, to tell the others, ‘we have seen the Lord’. On Emmaus road we meet the Lord in the heart burning breaking of the Word, and in the Eucharistic Breaking of the Bread. Alleluia! Alleluia!

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.