Monday, March 30, 2015

Passion Sunday Now and Then

Passion Sunday then and Now

At the moment of his death Time stands still!

The Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, Palm Sunday, has always meant a great deal to me. I loved getting my Palms as a child, the festive procession into the church, the wonderful music, and of course the dramatic reading of the Passion Narrative. It is a moment in the church year when time itself stands still and we contemplate the mighty acts by which our Salvation is given unto us.

It is also the Sunday I asked Cindy to marry me. I have often thought of how appropriate it was that we would happen to become engaged on that particular Sunday; Passion Sunday.

To tell you the truth there was a lot on my plate that year as there is every year for a parish priest. I was preparing all the Holy week services and I just didn’t need one more thing piled on. 

And so I said; “Just let me get past Easter and I’ll ask you then.”
To which she said; “A little less talk and a little more action!”
At which point I remembered the old English proverb; “The faint heart never won the fair lady.”

So I took the train to Boston and it was during that ride that I was shaking like a leaf. And I remember taking the escalator up to the 5th floor of the old Jordan Marsh department store where the wedding rings and the engagements rings were on display.

And I remember this all like it was yesterday. Behind the counter there was a diminutive lady by the name of Kelly, and I asked to look at the engagement rings.

She said; “Oh Father, you don’t want to be looking at those rings!”

Realizing then that I was wearing my clerical collar I said; “Oh this,
don’t worry about that, I’m an Episcopal priest.”

Mrs Kelly crossed herself and said; “Thanks be to God!” and breathed a generous sigh of relief and helped me find a nice ring.

I made a reservation at the Cafe Budapest, at the time, one of the finest restaurants in the City of Boston. I asked Cindy to go to dinner with me after church on Palm Sunday, and I think by now, she had a good inkling of what was a in the offing. 

And so it was, that after church that day we drove into the city and there was a lovely table set us with candles and a bud base and a red rose to greet us. We ordered dinner and a violinist came to the table and played exquisitely for us. 

I had put the ring into a Diamond match box so there wouldn’t be a bulge in my jacket pocket. Then I produced the ring and told her of my love and asked her hand in marriage. 

There was no hesitation, but a simple and uncomplicated declarative; “Yes.” We ordered a bottle of wine; “Egri Bikaver”, a popular Hungarian wine, the name of which means “Bull’s Blood”. I had  the Hungarian Goulash and the whole meal was a marvel.

When we got back to Cindy’s home to break the news to the family, Cindy’s little sister, Susan, just over 10 years of age at the time was alarmed at the news and said; “Oh no Cindy! Does that mean you’re going to be Irish now?”

That was 36 years ago.

Time stood still for us in that moment and for me, that moment still stands as the signature moment of my life. And the Passion we declared for one another bound ourselves to one another that day and since.

And we’ve seen each other and many others through many moments of joy and suffering since. As many of you have, through life and death, marriage and divorce, well being and illness. We stood with our son during his stroke and in the aftermath of his recovery. We’ve stood with parents at the death of their children. And life with all its joy and all of its suffering goes on. 

Time stands still for all of us with a love like this.

And Time stands still when we look to Jesus and a love like his.

We look to Jesus today and remember his Passion a latin word whose root meaning is to suffer, in the sense of a very intense feeling of devoted love. No doubt in his Passion you will see how much he loves you. It is a love so intense that we are bound to the Beloved in this Passion for all time. As two young lovers may do in their youth, or when they nurture and rear their children and then send them off into the world and then grow old together and eventually commend one another to God.

Time stands still for us in our Passion for God and God for us and in our Love for one another.

This Passion of our Lord binds us together forever.
Yes he suffered our of his love for us.

Yes he died.
Yes he is risen
Yes he will come again. 

And until he does we will come to this Table week in and week out where the candles are lit, the flowers are set and the music plays on. We will break this Bread and pass this Cup.

His Body and His Blood.
Received into our Body and our Blood
And we are bound together as those who love one another.

Hosanna Lord hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the Highest.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of The Holy Spirit. Amen

Fr Paul

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