That Which We Have Heard & Known

Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

Category: Second Esdras

The Better Angels – Sermon for St. Michael & All Angels Day – September 29, 2013

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This sermon was preached on St. Michael and All Angels Day, September 29, 2013, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio, where Fr. Funston is rector.

(The Episcopal Lectionary, Michaelmas: Genesis 28:10-17; Revelation 12:7-12; Psalm 103; and John 1:47-51. These lessons can be read at The Lectionary Page.)

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Icon of the ArchangelsWe are stepping out of the “common of time,” away from the progression of lessons assigned for the Sundays of Ordinary Time, and instead celebrating the Feast of Michaelmas, known variously as the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel or as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, or as the Feast of the Archangels, or as the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels (the latter being the preferred Anglican name for this commemoration). The only reason we are doing so is a personal conceit of your rector; Michaelmas, the 29th of September, just happens to be my birthday. Today I am celebrating the 30th anniversary of my twenty-eleventh birthday. I’ll get back to that in a moment, but first . . . a word about Michaelmas.

It shouldn’t surprise any of us that on, St. Michael and All Angels Day, we are treated to three very familiar stories of angels in Holy Scripture: first, the story of “Jacob’s ladder;” second, the story of the war in heaven in which Michael, leading the “good” angels, beats “the dragon” (named “the Devil or Satan”) and his “bad” angels; and finally, the gospel story of Jesus telling Nathanael that he will see something like Jacob’s ladder, “ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

We know what angels are, or at least we think we do. They are a separate order of creation, beings of spiritual energy who interact with human beings as the servants and often as the messengers of God. The English word angel derives from the Latin angelus which in turn is the romanization of the ancient ángelos which means “messenger” or “envoy.” In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, we find the terms mal’ak elohim (“messenger of God”), mal’ak YHWH (“messenger of the Lord”), bene elohim (“sons of God”) and haqqodesim (“holy ones”) translated into English as angels. The first of these, mal’ak elohim, is what we find in today’s Genesis passage. In addition, there are specific kinds of angels identified in the Hebrew Scriptures. There are the Cherubim – one of whom is placed with a flaming sword to guard the gateway to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 and who are said to flank or support God’s throne as, for example, in Hezekiah’s prayer in the book of the Prophet Isaiah (ch. 37); the Cherubs are apparently not cute, little, chubby baby angels! And there are the Seraphim – whom Isaiah describes as having “six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew,” and who sing God’s praises in the heavenly throne room.

We know the personal names of some of the angels, particularly the archangels – Gabriel, who is named in the Book of Daniel and identified in the Gospel of Luke as the angel of the Annunciation; Raphael, who is identified as a companion and advisor to Tobias in the apocryphal Book of Tobit; Uriel, who was sent to test the prophet Ezra according to the apocryphal Second Book of Esdras; and Michael, who is the leader of God’s angel army in the story of Revelation today.

We know that human beings, when they die, do not become angels . . . although lots of people say things like that in order to comfort the bereaved who have lost loved ones. Angels, as I said, are a separate order of creation, beings of immense spiritual energy. If the Book of Job is correct, they were created before the physical world: in questioning Job, God asks him if he was there when the foundations of the earth were put in place, “when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?” (38:7; the term here is bene elohim, sons of God.)

So . . . we know a lot about angels, but why do we venerate them on this particular day? And what can we learn from them? The first question is easy to answer: the date commemorates the dedication of the Sanctuary of St. Michael Archangel built on Monte Gargano in Italy in 493 a.d. in honor of an apparition of the archangel a few years before. The second question is not so easy.

What I think we learn from angels is conscience. Whenever I hear the word “angels,” to be very honest, my first thought is not of their religious history or meaning, but of the conclusion of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address given on March 4, 1861, just two weeks after Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as president of the Confederacy. Referring to that secession and the potential of war to preserve the Union, finished his speech saying:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

I love that turn of phrase, “the better angels of our nature.” I’m not the least bit sure what Mr. Lincoln meant by the phrase, but it has always appealed to me. A few years ago, a Harvard psychologist named Steven Pinker used it as the title of a book in which he named four of these “better angels:”

  • Empathy, which “prompts us to feel the pain of others and to align their interests with our own”
  • Self-control, which “allows us to anticipate the consequences of acting on our impulses” and thus to regulate those impulses
  • Moral sense, which “sanctifies a set of norms and taboos that govern the interactions among people”
  • Reason, which “allows us to extract ourselves from our parochial vantage points.”

These are all, to my way of thinking, gifts of God. In a sense, they are a modern rendition of what St. Paul called the “fruit of the Spirit,” although Paul listed nine attributes: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Or of those gifts of the Holy Spirit listed by Isaiah: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. It is through these fruits and gifts that human conscience is informed and moral judgment enlightened, and conscience, as Thomas Merton said, “is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our own lives.” (No Man Is an Island)

Some of you may be familiar with the Henry Fonda film from the 1940s entitled The Ox-Bow Incident. It’s based on a novel of the same name by the Nevada writer Walter Van Tilburg Clark. In the story, the narrator Art Croft is one of two men who drift into a Nevada ranching town and end up becoming part of a posse that turns into a lynch mob. They end up hanging, without a trial, three men who may or may not actually be guilty of the crimes they are accused of — cattle rustling and murder. Reflecting on what has happened, Art Croft asks, “If we can touch God at all, where do we touch him save in the conscience?” If the angels are the messengers of God, perhaps our conscience is the means through which the “better angels of our nature” communicate God’s will to us. As Theologian Peter Kreeft explains, the conscience as “the voice of God in the soul.”

Along those lines, in a Michaelmas sermon preached a few years ago, the Very Rev. John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey, said this:

We can and should then think of God speaking directly to us, out of his love and care for us as individuals. However we must understand God’s presence with us as a reality inseparable from that of God’s presence among us. Through our fellowship in the Church, Christ’s Body, God informs our conscience through his Word and feeds our soul through the sacraments, drawing us together as Christians into unity with each other and with himself. If we try to go it alone as Christians, we run great risks of going astray. The Church understands the work and role of the angels as assisting in mediating the presence of God with us and amongst us. (29 September 2010)

I don’t think I can learn much from angels as mighty beings standing guard at the entrance to Eden, or as warriors fighting Satan and casting him out of heaven, or as singers in the heavenly choir, or as the pillars and supports of God’s throne. But as the prompters and prickers of my conscience, as the “better angels” of empathy, moral sense, self-control, and reason, as the communicators of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, as mediators of God’s presence in the Church, I can learn a great deal from them.

The Psalmist, in our gradual this morning, declared that God’s righteousness and merciful goodness endure forever “on those who keep his covenant and remember his commandments and do them.” It is these “better angels” who keep that memory alive in our consciences and to them, and to the God whose presence they mediate within us individually and among us corporately, we can turn for answers to life’s challenges.

So . . . as I said, it’s my birthday. Today, and for the next decade or so, when asked how old I am, I can answer, “Sixty-something.” (A graphic I posted today on my Facebook page says, “I’m not sixty-something. I’m $59.95 plus shipping and handling.”) In any event, a birthday is a time of taking stock, or considering one’s past, one’s actions, the answers one has developed in one’s life, and one’s future.

I mentioned in a conversation with some parishioners last week that when I’d been ten years at St. Francis Parish in Stilwell, Kansas, my congregation last before this one, Evelyn and I came to the conclusion that it was time to leave. One of the people I was talking with asked, “You’ve been here at St. Paul’s for ten years. Is it time to leave?” That’s a birthday sort of question. It’s what might be called “a big question.”

The past six decades, like everyone’s life, has been full of big questions of that sort, to be honest. Whether to study law? Whether to get married? Whether to leave the practice of law? Whether to become a priest? Move to Kansas? Leave Kansas? Accept nomination in an episcopal election? Those are big questions. But sometimes our replies to big questions are little answers, puny responses that put off meeting the real challenges.

A friend recently shared a poem with me, a poem by Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell. I wasn’t familiar with Sitwell so I did some research on her. She was the eldest child of the 4th Baronet of Renishaw Hall, born in 1887. In her twenties, she began publishing poems in the Daily Mirror newspaper. She was six feet tall and habitually wore brocade gowns, gold turbans, and (one biographer said) “a plethora of rings.” Apparently she was given to public feuds with other literary figures. One critic said of her that “wore other people’s bleeding hearts on her own safe sleeve,” and another called her “an eccentric matriarch with a slender grip on reality.” Just my sort of poet! No wonder I liked what she had to say about our responses to life’s questions in a short poem entitled Answers:

I kept my answers small and kept them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I kept from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, still I hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow.

And all the great conclusions coming near.

I believe the “great conclusions coming near,” the big answers clamoring, the huge abstractions shouting to be acknowledged, are the angels calling each of us to greater ministries, the messengers of God urging us to a more audacious Christian presence in the world.

In a couple of months’ time, our construction project will be done. We’ll have a great new gallery, an expanded parish hall, a great new face presented to the community. When we broke ground here in July, the Old Testament lesson was the same reading from Genesis we hear this morning. I suggested then that this place, this St. Paul’s Episcopal Church located at 317 East Liberty Street in Medina, Ohio, is like Jacob’s Bethel.

It is an awesome place. It is a house of God. It is a gate of heaven. But just like Jacob’s Bethel, it is a place we are bidden to leave; it is a place from which the angels of God bid us go. A church building is meant to be the base from which the people of God go into the world. A church building is meant to be a place of life, a center of ministry, a place of assembly, where God’s people gather to worship, to hear the message of the angels, to celebrate the meaning of life, and to be transformed, and then “burst forth,” back out into the world to share the Good News with, and transform the lives of, others. The angels of God call us individually and corporately to greater ministries, to a more audacious Christian presence in our world.

The answer to that “big question” I was asked is, “No, it’s not time for me to leave St. Paul’s.” But it is time for all of us as St. Paul’s to leave this place, to go out from this new building we are creating, to “burst forth” into the world like Jacob and his offspring, to be “angels,” messengers of God, telling the world the Good News of God in Christ.

Amen.

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A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Unbind Him, and Let Him Go! – Sermon for All Saints Sunday – November 4, 2012

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This sermon was preached on Sunday, November 4, 2012, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio, where Fr. Funston is rector.

(Revised Common Lectionary, All Saints, Year B: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; and John 11:32-44. These lessons can be read at The Lectionary Page.)

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Orthodox Icon of the Raising of LazarusToday, following church tradition, we step away from the calendar of Ordinary Time and, instead, commemorate the Feast of All Saints. That festival is specifically held on November 1, but tradition allows us to celebrate the saints also on the Sunday after that date, so here we are.

Anglicans and Episcopalians for generations have been used to hearing the Beatitudes from Matthew’s gospel (Matt. 5:1-12) or the similar Blessings-and-Woes from Luke’s version (Luke 6:20-26), but since the adoption of the Revised Common Lectionary we also, every three years, hear the story of the raising of Lazarus from the gospel according to John. The listings of who is blessed in the other two gospels make sense as lessons for this day; the story of Lazarus, not so much. It may make us wonder why those who created our new lectionary made that choice.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to that question, if there are any answers at all. The development of the lectionary is a creature of time and custom as much as it is of purposeful selection. Lectionaries develop over the centuries. Typically, a lectionary will go through the scriptures in a logical pattern, and also include selections chosen by the community for their appropriateness to particular occasions. The ecumenical scholars who set up our current lectionary looked back over these centuries of development and selected lessons which had the broadest consensus for use on particular days, like today’s celebration of the feasts.

But why that consensus may exist is lost in time. There are no legislative notes indicating why communities thought a particular lesson, like the story of Christ raising Lazarus, fit a particular feast, such as All Saints Day. We who have inherited the tradition must read the lessons and figure out their message for ourselves. On a feast day, the Prayer Book gives us some filters, if you will, to aid in our reflections and our understanding; these are the collect (or prayer) of the day and the “proper preface” said (or chanted) before the Great Thanksgiving. Let’s take a look at the collect again:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP Page 245)

The focus of the prayer is the “communion and fellowship” of the saints, the community of the church, which is “knit together . . . in the mystical body” of Christ, which shares in “virtuous and godly living” and together enjoys the “ineffable joys” of eternal life. Likewise the preface focuses on the community:

For in the multitude of your saints you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses, that we might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us; and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away. (BCP Page 380)

The emphasis is on the “great cloud of witnesses” (a phrase borrowed from the Letter to the Hebrews 12:1) who rejoice in fellowship and together are crowned with unfading glory.

So in our contemplation of any of the lessons for today, we should look for the ways in which the lesson exemplifies or speaks to the community of faith, and in the raising of Lazarus that comes at the end of the story: “The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’.” (John 11:44)

“Unbind him, and let him go!” These may be the most powerful words in the story, because with them Jesus not only frees Lazarus, he empowers the community of faith. The community assists in the resurrection; it is the task of the People of God to complete the action of Resurrection. Jesus has called Lazarus out of the tomb, but he is still wearing the clothing of death, his funeral wrappings; the community removes those burial shrouds and dresses him for life.

I love that old Southern Harmony hymn we sang in procession today, especially the chorus which says

As I went down in the river to pray,
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the robe and crown?
Good Lord, show me the way.
(“Down in the River to Pray”)

“Who shall wear the robe and crown?” is a reference to the vision of St. John of Patmos recorded in the Book of Revelation, a vision of heaven where “there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” (Rev. 7:9)

Last Thursday, which was actually All Saints Day, one of the lessons for the Daily Office of Morning Prayer was from the apocryphal book of Second Esdras. In it Ezra reports seeing a similar vision of heaven.

I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?” He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord. (2 Esdras 2:42-47)

This vision differs from that in Revelation in that the presence of the Son of God is among the crowd, crowning them and putting the palms in their hands. I have to say, I rather prefer this vision to John’s because of that difference. There is something compelling about the Son of God being there with the saints, not high and exalted on a throne, as the Lamb is in the oracle of Revelation, but down with the people. This seems much more like the Jesus described in the Gospels, much more like the God he revealed.

This vision of Christ with the masses, yielding his glory and mixing in with his people, seems somehow quite in keeping with our celebration of all the saints. Today we don’t commemorate only those whose names are known, those who are portrayed in art with golden halos, those in whose particular memory churches and schools are dedicated; today we commemorate those whose names are not known. Ezra’s vision in Second Esdras of Christ mingling with these unknown but godly people appeals to me.

An early 20th Century Roman Catholic Lithuanian archbishop, George Matulaitis, once wrote:

May our model be Jesus Christ: not only working quietly in His home at Nazareth, not only Christ denying Himself, fasting forty days in the desert, not only Christ spending the night in prayer; but also Christ working, weeping, suffering; Christ among the crowds; Christ visiting the cities and villages. (Renovator of the Marians)

This is the Christ of Ezra’s vision; this is the Christ of the saints whom we remember today, Christ among the crowds. Indeed, John of Patmos in our reading from Revelation today describes God among the people: “[God] will dwell with [mortals] as their God; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 21:3-4)

When Jesus, this Christ among the crowds, this God dwelling with mortals, tells those around him, “Unbind him, and let him go” he is speaking not only to them, but also to us. When we hear those words we should remember another time when he empowered his church to unbind others. In Matthew’s gospel, in conversation with Peter, Jesus said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)

And again later to the apostles he said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18)

Here the Greek verb luo is translated as “loosen”, but it is the same word in our reading today translated as “unbind”. We have the power and the obligation to unbind and set others free. “Unbind him, and let him go” is Christ’s empowering command to all the saints everyday. It is Christ’s command to us to unbind others and give them their freedom; this is Christ among the crowds, God dwelling with God’s people, showing us the way that we and others can wear the robe and crown.

We unbind others and set them free when we work to alleviate the desperate plight of those who lack material means of survival, whether they are in our own communities, on the Gulf Coast or the eastern seaboard, or in distant countries. We unbind others and set them free when we act to console a brother or sister crushed by loss or fear or despair. We unbind others and set them free when we strive to empower rather than intimidate. We unbind others and set them free when we commit ourselves to justice for all, not merely for ourselves. We unbind others and set them free when we extend to others the mercy we have received from God. Whenever and wherever we find someone bound by sin or system or circumstance, we are to unbind them and set them free, not keep them tangled up in the old affairs, the old clothing, the old funeral wrappings of sin and death; those burial shrouds constrict them and damage everyone. Whenever and wherever we find someone struggling to be free, we are to unbind them and let them go so that we may all wear the robe and crown.

Today we commemorate all the saints, that great cloud of witnesses, that great multitude that no one can count wearing their robes and crowns, the community of the church throughout time and space charged with, committed to, and constantly striving to unbind others and set them free. Amen.

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A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.

Christ Among the Crowds – All Saints Day – November 1, 2012

From the Book of Second Esdras:

I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?” He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.

(From the Calendar of Saints – 2 Esdras 2:42-47 – November 1, 2012)

The Victorious Saints of GodI have to admit that I’m not sure how to treat the so-called Second Book of Esdras. Although counted among the apocryphal books, it seems more to me to be what is technically called pseudopigrapha (“false writings”). It is not recognized by any western church; neither the Roman church nor the Protestants recognize it, although it is annexed as part of an appendix to the Vulgate. Only the Greek and Russian Orthodox accept it as Scripture. If I recall correctly, it is actually made up of three different writings all from the 2nd or 3rd Centuries of the Christian era; it’s not “Old Testament”or “Hebrew Scripture”, at all! So what does one do with it? Here it is in the lectionary for All Saints Day for obvious reasons, but what does one do with it?

Well, of course, one notes the similarity of this vision with that of John of Patmos set out in Revelation 7:9-17: angel talking to the one having the vision, question about who the crowd is, white robed saints, palms in their hands. What’s different here is the presence of the Son of God among the crowd, crowning them and putting the palms in their hands. And, I have to say, I rather prefer this vision to John’s because of that difference. There is something compelling about the Son of God being there with the saints, not high and exalted on a throne, as the Lamb is in John’s oracle, but down with the crowds. This seems much more like the Jesus described in the Gospels, much more like the God he revealed. I am reminded of a couple of hymns:

All praise to thee, for thou, O King divine,
didst yield the glory that of right was thine,
that in our darkened hearts thygrace might shine.

Thou cam’st to us in lowliness of thought;
by thee the outcast and the poor were sought;
and by thy death was God’s salvation wrought.
(Words by F. Bland Tucker)

and

Not here for high and holy things
we render thanks to thee,
but for the common things of earth,
the purple pageantry
of dawning and of dying days,
the splendor of the sea,

the royal robes of autumn moors,
the golden gates of spring,
the velvet of soft summer nights,
the silver glistering
of all the million million stars,
the silent song they sing….
(Words by Geoffrey Anketel Studdert-Kennedy)

This vision of Christ with the masses, yielding his glory and mixing in with “the common (people and) things of earth,” seems somehow quite in keeping with today’s celebration of all the saints. Today we don’t commemorate only those whose names are known, those who are portrayed in art with golden halos, those in whose particular memory churches and schools are dedicated; today we commemorate those whose names are not known.

I’m particularly fond of the text of Chapter 44 of the Wisdom of Sirach which begins “Let us now praise famous men….” I chose that text to read at the graveside when we buried my older brother in 1993. In it are found these words, “But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten….” (Sirach 44:9-10) Ezra’s vision in Second Esdras of Christ mingling with these unknown but godly people appeals to me. An early 20th Century Roman Catholic Lithuanian archbishop, George Matulaitis, once wrote:

May our model be Jesus Christ: not only working quietly in His home at Nazareth, not only Christ denying Himself, fasting forty days in the desert, not only Christ spending the night in prayer; but also Christ working, weeping, suffering; Christ among the crowds; Christ visiting the cities and villages.

This is the Christ of Ezra’s vision; this is the Christ of the saints whom we remember today, Christ among the crowds.

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A request to my readers: I’m trying to build the readership of this blog and I’d very much appreciate your help in doing so. If you find something here that is of value, please share it with others. If you are on Facebook, “like” the posts on your page so others can see them. If you are following me on Twitter, please “retweet” the notices of these meditations. If you have a blog of your own, please include mine in your links (a favor I will gladly reciprocate). Many thanks!

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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.