Service of the Liturgy of the Word for Easter III

We are trying a different format for the Sunday Worship by returning to the more familiar pattern of the Liturgy of the Word – the first half of the Eucharist service, beginning on pg 355 of the BCP. If you don’t have a BCP you can find it online here.

Order of Service

PreludeCantilena by Eugene Butler with Steven Young is at the console of the St Martin’s organ

The Introit: Rise heart, thy Lord is risen a George Herbert poem set by R. Vaughan Williams’ in his Easter Mystical Song Cycle and sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. This song cycle is a part of our choral repertoire which Gabe Alfieri sang at Easter 2019

The Gloria: Healey Willan, Mass XII, sung by the Gallery Choir of St Mary Magdalene Church, Toronto. Willan is part of our repertoire, last sung on Christmas Eve

The Collect: for the third Sunday after Easter

The Readings: Here is a link to the Preparing for Sunday Lectionary page

Acts 2:14, 36-41 read by David Whitman

Psalm 116: 1-3,10-17, chanted by Jacob Chippo, St Martin’s Chapel Consort

1 Peter 1:17-23, read by Beth Toolan

Hymn 180 vv 1 & 4, sung and recorded remotely by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

The Gospel: Luke 24:13-35 proclaimed by The Rev. Linda Griggs

The Anthem: Keep us in thy hands, O Lord, George Frederick Handel, Sung and recorded remotely by Gabe Alfieri and Lori Istock of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort, accompanied on a period organ by Steven Young

The Sermon: The Rev. Mark Sutherland -the text appears below

The Credo (Nicene Creed): Healey Willan, Mass XII, sung by the Gallery Choir of St Mary Magdalene Church, Toronto. Willan is part of our repertoire, last sung on Christmas Eve

Prayers of the People: Mark+

The Peace

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn 182: vv 1 & 5, sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort recording remotely

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP) and Easter Blessing

The Postlude: Trumpet Tune in A by Michael McCabe with Steven Young is at the console of the St Martin’s organ

The service was recorded, edited, and produced by Christian (Ian) Tulungen

A late addition to the prayers for the dead is Joe Bishkoff, who died last evening. Rest in peace, Joe. We remember Cheryl at this time.

Service of the Liturgy of the Word
Mark’s+ stand alone sermon audio

You will have heard the saying that the mind only sees what it already knows, or a variation – the mind only recognizes what it is already on the lookout for. This is because the mind is like a very sophisticated pattern mapping machine. The act of remembering – to see something again – involves the mind mapping an old memory template onto a new experience.

I suspect it’s a common experience to hear a piece of music and love it immediately. The reason we love the new song or tune is because it’s not new to us at all. The new arrangement of the notes evokes existing sound memory stored away in a very old part of the brain known as the hippocampus -from the Greek hippokampos – sea horse, a part of the brain shaped like this strange sea creature.

Our senses gather new information and then cross reference it against stored memory. When we hear a piece of music and are baffled by it, or instantly dislike it – it is because we have no stored template against which to map the sounds. You’ve heard that the native peoples who first encountered Columbus could not see his ships. They had no stored template against which to map objects so outside their previous experience.

The thing about the storage of long-term memories is that the mapping of new to previous experience is an unconscious process – its more than “oh yes this reminds me of that time” etc. The unconscious triggering by new of older experience is problematic for us because we don’t know it’s happening.

Two consequences flow from this. The first is that nothing is ever really forgotten, it’s just that associations between present and past experience become hidden from our conscious awareness. The second is summed up by Freud’s dictum: what we cannot remember we are destined to repeat – unfortunately over, and over, and over, again!

Understanding the meaning of present-time experience requires remembering. Remembering is a conscious process of re-membering -of reassembling the fragments of forgotten memory into newly conscious configurations. Instead of unconsciously repeating past experience we re-member it into new experience, i.e. modified behavior that opens the possibility for a new outcome with a different result.

Grief breaks the links in the chain of re-membering. Grief is a powerful tool of forgetting all but the anger and depression of loss. Working through grief, which is after all a natural human reaction, usually does not require the help of a skilled therapist, but it always requires the help of a compassionate listener; one who accompanies the grieving on their journey of healing. In this process the denial and rage of grief is transformed back into a capacity for faith, hope, and love.

In chapter 24 of his gospel we find Luke’s story set on the Emmaus road. This is the first two post resurrection appearances of Jesus, recorded by Luke. Last week I spoke and wrote about John’s treatment of Jesus’ post resurrection appearance. John tells tales differently from Luke. Yet both Evangelists explore the connection of Jesus’ post-resurrection body to our human experience.

Luke is a teller of human shaped tales; by which I mean Luke’s Jesus is intimately concerned with the suffering nature of human experience. On the road to Emmaus – a town a couple of miles outside Jerusalem – we are invited into the heart wrenching portrayal of two men’s grief and its transformation at the hands of a seeming stranger who falls into step alongside them.

The two disciples are in the grip of the forgetting of grief. As they travel along, ostensibly escaping the now painful associations of Jerusalem as a place of dashed hope, we can observe that a change of scene does not stop them ruminating in the grip of their loss.

Clouded by the forgetting effects of grief, they don’t recognize Jesus. For them Jesus is dead. Because they had never encountered an individual resurrection there was no memory template of resurrection filed away in their hippocampus, capable of informing their current experience.

And as they walked, the stranger – who to their astonishment seems to know nothing of Jesus or his death, begins to transform their loss by mapping it to their stored scriptural memory.

This process leads them to a point of re-membering – reassembling the fragments of memory into a blindingly new awareness – triggered in them as Jesus takes bread, blesses it, brakes it and gives it to them. Now suddenly, they’re able to map their experience of loss to something already familiar. The moment their eyes opened – Jesus vanishes. The work of healing is now complete; their healing has been assured as they exclaim in astonishment to each other: “Were not our heart burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?” You see, they knew all along, it’s just they had forgotten they knew it. In their burning hearts Jesus began to remap their grief to faith, hope, and love. They now get up and hightail it back to Jerusalem; healed men.

The Road to Emmaus is for Christians a universal symbol of journeying into new discovery. We awaken to the anxiety and fear of finding ourselves in an unprecedented global pandemic emergency. In other words, we’re on the Road to Emmaus – a journey of discovery -of re-membering humanity’s desperate and urgent need for healing.

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