March 27, 2016

Bread of Life

Joy dawned again on Easter Day,
The sun shone out with fairer ray,
When, to their longing eyes restored,
The apostles saw their risen Lord.
His risen flesh with radiance glowed;
His wounded hands and feet he showed:
Those scars their silent witness gave
That Christ was risen from the grave.
O Jesus, King of gentleness,
Do thou our inmost hearts possess;
And we to thee will ever raise
The tribute of our grateful praise.
Jesus, who art the Lord of all,
In this our Easter festival,
From every weapon death can wield
Thine own redeemed, thy people, shield.
All praise, O risen Lord, we give
To thee, who, dead, again dost live;
To God the Father equal praise,
And God the Holy Ghost, we raise.

Hymn ascribed to Saint Ambrose. 
English translation is by J. M. Neale

Luke Chapter 24 : Bible Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

News That Jesus Has Risen From Death
Very early Sunday morning, the women came to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. They brought the sweet-smelling spices they had prepared. They saw that the heavy stone that covered the entrance had been rolled away. They went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They did not understand this. While they were wondering about it, two men in shining clothes stood beside them.  The women were very afraid. They bowed down with their faces to the ground. The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person here? This is a place for dead people. Jesus is not here. He has risen from death. Do you remember what he said in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to the control of sinful men, be killed on a cross, and rise from death on the third day.” Then the women remembered what Jesus had said.

The women left the tomb and went to the eleven apostles and the other followers. They told them everything that happened at the tomb. These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and some others. They told the apostles everything that happened. But the apostles did not believe what they said. It sounded like nonsense. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see. He looked in, but he saw only the cloth that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. It was just lying there. Peter went away to be alone, wondering what had happened.

On The Road to Emmaus
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a town named Emmaus. It is about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking about everything that had happened. While they were talking, discussing these things, Jesus himself came near and walked with them. (But the two men were not allowed to recognize Jesus.) He asked them, “What’s this I hear you discussing with each other as you walk?”

The two men stopped, their faces looking very sad. The one named Cleopas said, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has just happened there.”

Jesus said, “What are you talking about?”

They said, “It’s about Jesus, the one from Nazareth. To God and to all the people he was a great prophet. He said and did many powerful things. But our leaders and the leading priests handed him over to be judged and killed. They nailed him to a cross. We were hoping that he would be the one to free Israel. But then all this happened.

“And now something else: It has been three days since he was killed, but today some of our women told us an amazing thing. Early this morning they went to the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid. But they did not find his body there. They came and told us they had seen some angels in a vision. The angels told them Jesus was alive! So some of our group went to the tomb too. It was just as the women said. They saw the tomb, but they did not see Jesus.”

Then Jesus said to the two men, “You are foolish and slow to realize what is true. You should believe everything the prophets said. The prophets said the Messiah must suffer these things before he begins his time of glory.” Then he began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures. He started with the books of Moses and then he talked about what the prophets had said about him.

They came near the town of Emmaus, and Jesus acted as if he did not plan to stop there. But they wanted him to stay. They begged him, “Stay with us. It’s almost night. There’s hardly any daylight left.” So he went in to stay with them.

Joining them at the supper table, Jesus took some bread and gave thanks. Then he broke some off and gave it to them. Just then the men were allowed to recognize him. But when they saw who he was, he disappeared. They said to each other, “When he talked to us on the road, it felt like a fire burning in us. How exciting it was when he explained to us the true meaning of the Scriptures!”

So the two men got up then and went back to Jerusalem. There they found the followers of Jesus meeting together. The eleven apostles and the people with them said, “The Lord really has risen from death! He appeared to Simon.”

Then the two men told what had happened on the road. They talked about how they recognized Jesus when he shared the bread with them.

Jesus Appears to His Followers
While the two men were saying these things to the other followers, Jesus himself came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you.”

This surprised the followers. They were afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said, “Why are you troubled? Why do you doubt what you see? Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me. Touch me. You can see that I have a living body; a ghost does not have a body like this.”

After Jesus told them this, he showed them his hands and his feet. The followers were amazed and very, very happy to see that Jesus was alive. They still could not believe what they saw. He said to them, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of cooked fish. While the followers watched, he took the fish and ate it.

Jesus said to them, “Remember when I was with you before? I said that everything written about me must happen—everything written in the Law of Moses, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms.”

Then Jesus helped the followers understand these Scriptures about him. Jesus said to them, “It is written that the Messiah would be killed and rise from death on the third day.  You saw these things happen—you are witnesses. You must go and tell people that they must change and turn to God, which will bring them his forgiveness. You must start from Jerusalem and tell this message in my name to the people of all nations. Remember that I will send you the one my Father promised. Stay in the city until you are given that power from heaven.”

Jesus Goes Back to Heaven
Jesus led his followers out of Jerusalem almost to Bethany. He raised his hands and blessed his followers. While he was blessing them, he was separated from them and carried into heaven. They worshiped him and went back to Jerusalem very happy. They stayed at the Temple all the time, praising God.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied 
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine 
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

by Natalie Grant

Heart Prayer

Oh Lord please roll away the stone of my heart 
That blocks my connection to you. 
Divine eternal ever free your love 
Is the bread of eternal life. 
Risen from darkness unto light 
Your fire of immortality is the grace of infinite peace. 
Please remove the crust of my ignorance. 
Help me to go inward towards the clear light 
Of your unchanging oneness.

*Painting by Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí

March 1, 2016

Set Course for God

"Mother! Mother! My boat is sinking, here in the ocean of this world;
Fiercely the hurricane of delusion rages on every side!
Clumsy is my helmsman, the mind; stubborn my six oarsmen, the passions;
Into a pitiless wind I sailed my boat, and now it is sinking!
Split is the rudder of devotion; tattered is the sail of faith;
Into my boat the waters are pouring! Tell me, what shall I do?
For with my failing eyes, alas! Nothing but darkness do I see.
Here in the waves I will swim O Mother, and cling to the raft of Thy name!”.

Set sail on spiritual life 
For a coarse of sincerity and earnestness, 
Pure love and devotion for God. 
Grab hold to the hem of his skirt 
As he spins the truth of eternal peace. 
Sail on the ocean of bliss, 
Past vain helpless ego, 
Towards strong currants of abiding truth. 
On meaningful logs of love let me cross 
This turbulent storm of impermanence 
Spun in turbulent eddies thrown ashore, 
Let the moment that is be the present pure 
Newness reborn afresh as divine truth.

The winds of God's grace are always blowing, 
it is for us to raise our sails. 

The Dreamboat
by Sri Aurobindo

Who was it that came to me in a boat made of dream-fire,
With his flame brow and his sun-gold body?
Melted was the silence into a sweet secret murmur,
'Do you come now? Is the heart's fire ready?'

Hidden in the recesses of the heart something shuddered,
It recalled all that the life's joy cherished,
Imaged the felicity it must leave lost forever,
And the boat passed and the gold god vanished.

Now within the hollowness of the world's breast inhabits -
For the love died and the old joy ended -
Void of a felicity that has fled, gone for ever,
And the gold god and the dream boat come not.