Holy Week and Easter, 2017
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
For the last five weeks, we have been walking in the way of the cross with our Lord. Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the blind beggar, Mary and Martha: all followers of Jesus who for us have been guideposts and examples of discipleship throughout the season of Lent. Our Lord used each of these diverse people in order to reveal God’s glory to us all. In them we see the human struggle for understanding, and yearning for a deepening of faith and unity with God.
Through those stories of Lenten discipleship we are led, once again to Calvary, that wretched yet blessed place where through Jesus Christ, true discipleship and unity with God became a reality of all.
I hope that you will be able to join with your parish family for as much of the Holy Week experience as possible. Each liturgy tells its own story--from the shouts of Hosanna! On Palm Sunday, to the tenderness of the first Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, to the shouts of “Crucify him!” on Good Friday--we walk with Jesus and those who loved him to the agony of the cross and finally, to the glory of the empty tomb.
It is my prayer that you will be greatly blessed this Holy Week. I hope that you will encounter Jesus along the way, and that the joy of Easter morning and the resurrection of our Lord will be carried forth in your hearts both now and throughout the year.
Yours in the Crucified and Risen Christ,
The Rev’d Richard J. Robÿn
At first glance, the beginning of this year has been one of false-starts. Just look at our weather in the northeast--bounding from balmy to blizzard, neither people nor plants can tell which end is up. Perhaps you have had the challenge of seemingly false-starts in your personal or professional life, as well. We all have hopes and dreams for our lives. I know that I have heard myself saying, “If only I can get to ____, everything will be great!” “If only” sometimes comes to pass, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, we often realize that it wasn’t the panacea we had hoped for. When it doesn’t, the disappointment and haunting “what if’s” can be a real drain on the soul. When this happens, it is a sign that we are living too much unto our own wills, and not discerning that of God. Certainly, free will and the creative drive in all of us are gifts from God, but like all his other gifts, it is in returning them to Him that we find our true joy.
“God has a plan for you.” Truer and more frustrating words have rarely been spoken. We all want the best for the world, our church, our families, and ourselves. And though we have agency, or the ability to act and effect change, action without God’s direction is like a ship without a pilot.
Lent is the time of year when we pay special attention to our mortality, sinfulness, and need for God’s grace in our lives. Consider Jesus in the garden: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Even our Lord struggled with accepting God’s will and plan for him, but because he did, we not only have Lent, but also Easter. Let us use the remaining weeks of Lent and Holy Week to pray in the garden of Gethsemane that is in each of our hearts. Look back at the year that has passed and find those places where God’s will was done in your life. Look ahead as well and have faith. Engage with God through prayer, reading of holy scripture, and the partaking of the sacraments of His Church. Ask and work for the wisdom and grace to open your heart and mind to His will. And finally, remember the words of St. Paul, “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20)
O beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
At this time of year, even as the days grow shorter, we experience new beginnings. For some, a new school year begins, for others, it is the start of a new program year. Right now our diocese is in the midst of a new beginning of its own. For almost a century, Trinity was under the oversight of the Bishop of London. After the American Revolution, the Episcopal Church was founded right here in Philadelphia, and our first American bishop was the Right Reverend William White. Another two centuries on, we are now happy to welcome the sixteenth Bishop of Pennsylvania, the Right Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutierrez. Bishop Gutierrez comes to us from his native New Mexico, and will be visiting Trinity as part of his diocese-wide pilgrimage on Monday, September 12 at 1:00 pm.
Thanks to the hard work of Bishop Clifton Daniel, diocesan leadership and the search committee, there was a palpable sense of unity at Bishop Gutierrez’s consecration that I have not experienced since coming here seven years ago. There is a lot of work that we all have to do together, and we should not expect our new bishop to magically heal old wounds and make everything “good”. However, we should rejoice that through prayer, discernment, and the work of the Holy Spirit, we have an able and gifted shepherd among us.
Please join me in welcoming our new bishop with open arms. One way to do this is to join your parish family for kickoff Sunday (details below). Our church is blessed with many families with children and youth of various ages. One of the challenges this presents is competing schedules. We understand that not everyone can be in church every Sunday, but attendance is vital, both to our church as a whole and to your spiritual life. So I encourage you, as we make a new beginning as a diocese, to make a new beginning on a local level. If you’ve never missed a Sunday, that’s fantastic! If you can only be here every other Sunday, we love to see you! However, I think now is a great time to consider how much your presence at worship means to the greater community. We are one body. If you need a ride, just let someone know! We miss you when you’re not here, and it is not a bother to pick you up.
I don’t have to tell you what a special place Trinity is, not only in the lives of its members, but in the community as a whole. Let’s use this new beginning to make a new commitment to our diocese and ourselves!