Note: Can I Say This at Church is produced for audio listening. If able, I strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which has inflection, emotion, sarcasm where applicable, and emphasis for points that may not come across well in written word. This transcript is generated using a combination of my ears and software, and may contain errors. Please check the episode for clarity before quoting in print.
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Everybody, welcome to the show. I'm Seth, your host. Today we have Alexander Shaia with us again. We are all, and we all have, over these past few weeks, in a season of Lent, we've learned to let things go. We've picked up new things because we are creatures of habit. But there is more than one way to think about Easter, to think about our Lord. And a lot of what we as Americans, I believe, struggle with is a lack of history, a lack of culture and a lack of understanding around many of the holidays that we celebrate. And so I talked about that a bit with with Alexander today and I got a lot out of this and I believe that you will too. Get ready to be challenged, your Easter is not under assault. It is even more glorious, and more beautiful and more worthy than we give it due.
Alexander, thank you so much for for being willing to coming back on the Can I say this at church podcast. I'm pleased that you've been able to make time to come back on today.
I'm honored and as you and your guests will soon hear I'm recovering from some sort of a respiratory infection. And so I've got sort of a raspy voice but…
I think it adds character (both chuckle)
I did a seminar on Saturday, but microphone whispering for hours. So let's see if we can do this today.
Well, whisper as loud as you need out, I'll crank the gain on on my end. And so by now for those that are listening, if you haven't gone back and listened to the episode prior that we did with Alexander, please go back and do that. I think it will be pertinent for today's conversation, but you had said something while we were coordinating that Alexander about…just Holy Week, Lent, the Gospel, the history of Easter, and all that goes with that. And I quickly realized that that topic is fascinating. I know very little about it, which shame on me as a Christian, I probably should know more. And so I'm looking forward to discussing that not necessarily at length but in a little bit today.
And here we are recording this just days away from Ash Wednesday. So this is very timely.
Well, I guess let's, I guess let's start there. So I want to spend a little bit of time on, I guess the history of Easter, but I'm more interested in how we take that history and view it through a lens the Quadratos view of the Gospels and how I can live in that today. And how Easter can not necessarily lose meaning, but but gain, gain something more whole, for lack of a better word.
So I guess just a bit of the history of that, obviously we haven't always celebrated Easter. I can't see that happening that on the annual anniversary of Christ's death and resurrection. So what is kind of our, as Christians our story of Easter?
Well, actually, we have celebrated Easter from almost the very first years into what I call the era of the resurrection. And one of the things that many Christians forget and even though our scholars have tended to overlook is that we called Sunday Easter. Every Sunday in Christendom was Easter, and so for about 200 years we celebrated Easter 52 times a year.
And then there came a moment when we began to do something on one Easter a year, which was different from the other 51.
So, Easter is the celebration of death and resurrection. And that was the core experience of every Sunday gathering. And then 200 years into our history, we began to think, well, we needed to do something on one Easter a year that we didn't do on the other 51 Easter's. And so when people say let's talk about Easter, I assume that we want to focus on what's unique about the Easter in the springtime that's different from the rest of the Easter's of the year.
And everything in Christianity comes from what's happening on the ground and within the communities? It's like we, we don't create theological feasts, we create feasts which have a compelling spiritual practice to them. So here's sociologically, what I think is happening around the time that we develop an Easter in the springtime, distinct from the other 51 Easter's of the year.
Christianity as an art form, and as a new moment in human consciousness. We are we develop a pan-tribal communion. And as I've talked about in other places that other traditions including our mother tradition, Judaism, have profound beautiful truth that all are one before God, which makes each of us brother and sister to the other.
However, before the First Century, and before Jesus and Christianity, we don't have evidence of other traditions, having a room or a table where everyone was welcome to sit side by side. This is really a new way of being family that begins for us in the presence of the historical Jesus in the first century. And even Judaism at this point, organized the synagogue life with either the men in the front of the women in the back, or the men on the floor and the women in the balcony, or the men to the right, and the women to the left of a wall down the synagogue.
So the idea of a table where you sit side by side is quite radical, fresh, and in my view a step forward in our development of our relationship with God in each other.
Yeah. And so I guess the table then is an equalizing factor or an equalizing force.
Totally. The table becomes a symbolic expression of Jesus the Christ, where we all share an equal measure and honor and distinction and responsibility.
Well, Christianity in the first 200 years, especially during the time that we were greatly persecuted and executed, when you're running from the Emperor because you're likely to be killed. There's a compelling harmony within the community because we're facing this external force or pressure.
But as we go on and as we spread across the Mediterranean, and our diversity increases. Diversity of gender and tribe and socio-economic status poor and wealthy enslave, and people from the Eastern provinces and the Western provinces this diversity becomes a cacophony. If you can ever imagine Christians having vigorous discussion with each other.
And as the time of persecution lessens, it doesn't go away yet but it lessens. And when it lessens, we have that luxury of debate. And the debate is you're doing what? You believe Jesus how?
You interpret the Scriptures in what way? You're conducting baptisms using what elements?
And this lively discussion, which might have started out as holy curiosity ends up becoming a rather fractious debate and we begin to break apart from each other. And in some ways, because Christianity at this point is not formalized and really is not going to become formalized until all the Roman oppression is gone, and we're no longer illegals. But at this moment, there is a wisdom that moves amongst us that says; “Ah”! Once a year, we must return to the deep spiritual practice of communion, not only as an hour ritual, but as an inner spiritual practice which lessens the dogmatic divisions within us and increases the felt sense of our union and communion, both with our God and each other.
I hear that and I feel like church still does that today. Everybody argues about everything. And it makes me think, and this is probably a tangent in my church, we have world communion day. And so I hear you saying that the intent of setting up Easter was to put aside your dogma, and love each other effectively. And I wonder if maybe our…well at least in the West, I wonder if maybe that didn't work well. And so they tried again, with World communion day, but I'd hate to get I hate to get off the topic.
Well, I mean, I think you're right, because what's happened over 1900 years, or almost 2000, years of quote, unquote, Easter, is that it became a historical story and a proclamation about an empty tomb 2000 years ago. And please don't hear me that I in any way doubt that there was an empty tomb and a risen Jesus. I'm just saying that the impact of that feast in our tradition is about present moment spiritual practice, not the proclamation of a glorious sacred newspaper.
So talk talk more about that. So I hear you to say that most of the messages and most of the the pageantry, for lack of a better word that you're going to hear is about here is your future hope, look at this one scene of the entire story of Christ and and hinge on that. And you're saying instead that the intent of the Easter story is that today is Easter.
And tomorrow's Easter, and yesterday was Easter.
Yes, and that we are the body and we are ever becoming more the body of Christ.
That to become the body of Christ requires spiritual practice far more than theological discussion. What is so critical is, we are always as Christians and it is our glory, that we have a wide divergence of our thinking about Jesus and about the Christ. And that's exactly as it should be, and it is an incredible bouquet or a diadem. But the reality is that because of the beauty of that theological expression, that we tend to become overly identified with our understanding, and forget that the core practice is how to bring that expression together as as the true incarnate body of Jesus here amongst us today. So that therefore there are ways that we have to learn and be reminded about how we talk with each other.
And yelling at each other or vigorously saying this is a right expression of Jesus to each other is not the way of this wide divergent Body of Christ. So the early church, and early church I'm now going to talk about as we move into the three hundreds which is actually the Fourth century of Christianity, they created a number of things which they thought of as the communities retreat. And the community as a whole was required to be present for this retreat each year.
What do you mean required, like you had to pilgrimage there or…
That if you are a baptized member of this community, this is not optional.
As my grandmother would say of us on Sunday lunch or in the American South, Sunday dinner.
I expect you at my table. Or if you're sick, we will have gone to the hospital and brought you flowers. Or if you're in the cemetery will have we will have stopped by this morning. But barring your being dead or sick, you be here. No exceptions allowed.
And it was absolutely incumbent upon a baptized member to remove themselves from everyday life and take part in what the early church conceived up as a essentially a 72 hour retreat, which we today might call the celebration of Easter. So Easter was not just an hour long service or even a few hours. And it wasn't just one day it was three days.
And over these three days, we are going to enter into the spiritual practices, we're going to refresh ourselves, we're going to sort of return to boot camp for how a Christian community chooses to live with each other in such a way that it increases the evident presence of Christ amongst us, and the evident presence of Christ between myself and Christ. So it was both the practice of transcendence, myself with God, and eminence myself with God present in our midst. So the first thing was the decision that they were going to craft this retreat. And the second piece of the decision was that the retreat would happen in the springtime; and in part, that was a historical connection to that day 2000 years ago, or 200 years ago.
But there also was another reality which was it was expressly chosen to be the springtime because the springtime is energetically in us when the sap rises. And when the sap rises, as you come out of the winter doldrums and the sap rises, is particularly a difficult moment in the community life; can be a difficult moment in community life. And we may notice just in a world news and world history, how many street protests and revolutions start in the springtime. There is a natural process in the human self, of a release of energy. And so Christianity recognize this and recognize the incarnation of this and set “ahhhh” for every reason, the spring time is the right seasonal moment for us to have this retreat about how we live with each other.
And the types of spiritual practices we engage. Because we want to create the sense of deepening and the sense of oneness and harmony with each other.
I find it striking, Alexander, and I listened to your Christmas episode with Rob Bell. I find it striking that our two I guess, pillars of holidays as Christianity seem to center around, you know, the darkest day on our solar cycle, so the winter solstice and then also the spring equinox. I can't think that that's an accident, it's obviously not an accident, but I find it I find it not coincidence. I don't know what the word is. I find it enchanting that they mirror each other.
Absolutely. And Seth my perspective is it's not coincidental, in fact it's quite intentional. And to go even further, the intention is that Pentecost would be very near the Summer solstice. Pentecost, which is the height of our Christian spirituality would be set in a time very near the most glowingly radiant sunlight of the year. That there's an incarnational, biological, expression of what Jesus the Christ does for us that is also very much like summer solstice and Pentecost.
You can't see this, but I didn't think about Pentecost and that actually gave me the skin little hairs raise there. That was…I hadn't thought—I hadn't thought about that.
That's and I mean, for many of us, and I'm, you know, I'm an old Catholic, and I don't know your tradition as well. But for us Catholics, we would talk about Pentecost as the Birthday of the church and I don't know if you have such a phraseology.
Yeah, similar and our worship service will have a lot of songs built around our souls are on fire and many nations and many tongues. And so yeah, there's a little bit of that. But it is a celebration of this started or this this began in earnest right here. And it's the ministry that we're still doing today; alot of that language.
So to take the idea of birthday back as a present moment reality that the whole journey of Lent and Easter is about recreating or re-animating the community now. So that the idea of Pentecost as the birthday of the church is because of the spiritual practices that we have reengaged in deepened ourselves, we have set our communion on a new foundation. That foundation is Jesus the Christ, but that we must actually engage in the spiritual practices because we are this wild radical folly of diversity.
It is so much easier to create a communion out of uniformity. We chose to say right at the heart of the world's diversity is our communion. But it's a communion that is not easy to live with unless you were fully engaged in the spiritual practice of it. Sociologically, were historically in the time in the early centuries, where our diversity is overwhelming our felt sense of charity and communion.
We choose to create a three day retreat in celebration of the practices of our union with God and each other, we set those in the springtime, which has the Incarnational aspect of the sap rising, and also a historical connection to the day that Jesus came forth from the tomb.
And now we are going to choose the text for the retreat. This is what, actually, 40 years ago is was the first real marker on my way to Quadratos and the four gospels journey; was that they chose only the Gospel of John to be the text of this retreat.
And I was like, what that just, it stunned me to realize that going back into the early three hundreds, they had already chosen a Gospel for a function; and I'm what did they know about the text of John that made it so compelling that the only John would be the text of Eastern.
So this is interesting because they're saying that, you know, clearly Matthew, Mark and Luke have resurrection appearances. But that's not what they were talking about. It's like, every resurrection appearance is not equal to the experience of Easter that they were crafting in the three hundreds, the fourth century. And so only the text of John has that type of Easter experience. And it was only the text of John, that was prayed and studied and reflected and celebrated. Alright, so now what's in the text of John that would be the core of this experience?
From my perspective and from my sort of trying to put this back together and sometimes I feel like this is one of the detective stories on TV these days where you're using all this science to figure out the fingerprints and these filaments of DNA that are left behind, etc.
I situate the Gospel of John as having come out of the community at Ephesus, late First Century. And what is one of the things that's compelling about Ephesus is of all the of the four places where our gospel text was revealed or composed. Ephesus is a place which had the dilemma of being pantribal, had the gift and had the dilemma. We know that Ephesus receives Paul's preaching in the 40s of the first century, about the oneness of all people. And Ephesus is a place of tremendous diversity where people all the way from…Ephesus is in Turkey but because it was the Eastern Capital of the Roman Empire, which means that the courts were there, people from India and North Africa would come to Ephesus to argue, in the Roman courts.
So Ephesus had this teeming diversity of tribe. We also know that Ephesus had a very affluent and educated population. It had a very, very vital women's community. And the other thing which is so heartbreakingly true about Ephesus is it's affluence was built on the fact that it was the center of the Roman slave trade.
And whereas, the city of Ephesus was this gleaming, affluent city underneath those beautiful buildings were hundreds of miles of tape of caves and tunnels where the slaves were kept in the midst of this vital capital, wealthy, diverse city built upon the slave trade.
Paul preaches oneness, which even is extended to the slaves, which is totally countercultural at this moment.
However, by 50 years later, when we think the Gospel of John is revealed or composed, the Christian community and emphasis is fighting. All the old prejudices, all the old hierarchy, all the old divisions, all the old categories, all the who's the end, and who's the out and who's on top and who's on bottom, all of that is resurfaced. And what John's text must do for this community is bring them back into deeper harmony in Jesus Christ. And so this is the text of the four, which offers a series of meditations on how we move through the human “stuffness” that separates us from each other.
And that that “stuffness” is always going to be there. You don't do this once and it's done. That all the stuff that John brings us in the meditations is something that we might powerfully reflect on once a year. That we need to keep these limitations and wounds in us. We need to keep them in our heart and keep them before our minds eye, not in any guilt or shame sense but because with oneness, you're either moving towards oneness or you're moving away from oneness.
If you're staying static, you're moving away from oneness. There's no rest day with oneness. It's always a matter of which way are you moving? And the material in the Gospel of John is the profound spiritual director for us of what we must keep aware of because if we don't it is going to gobble us whole. And when we get gobbled, we're going to be, we're going to think we're really doing Christian community. But we're not doing Christian community. What we're doing is we're, we're enslaving each other under the idea of uniformity. We're not doing the diverse union of the human family before God.
Now, this 72 hour retreat in celebration is going to be normed off of it's going to use great, beautiful texts from the Gospel of John, as the Easter moment, which remits our union and compels us forward.
So why, why John then? I mean, the other gospels obviously have their own passion story, their own passion, play, for lack of a better word. So why, I guess to flip the question, is there anything wrong with the other three? Well, Mark comes to mind it has two endings, depending on what Bible you want to read. So what is missing in the other three that that the early church couldn't glean the same from that?
Because from my work of Quadratos and from what we talked about in the in the previous podcast, each of these gospels performs a function. They're not the sacred newspaper of the history of Jesus. Each text performs a particular function. And Matthew’s function is to show is Jesus in Matthew, Jesus shows us how to wake up and begin a new journey.
Mark’s function is to show us how to move through moments of tremendous trial and obstacle. And Luke's function is to show us how to mature as a disciple and apostle in that way of Jesus; how to be a ever greater service.
John's function, this is the reason it's been chosen, John's function is how you create union and deeper oneness from tremendous diversity.
And, again, the lesser understanding of Christianity today is we're celebrating as historical reality 2000 years ago, so therefore we can use any text of resurrection from any of the four Gospels. That was not the origins of the piece to beast or the feast of Easter was about the spiritual practices that we must engage in, to keep our communion deepening. And therefore they rightly discerned that the appropriate gospel text for that type of Easter experience is John, and I would say only John.
So as you're ready, we'll move into the text and see what power it brought to Christians beginning in the three hundreds or the fourth century.
Well, yeah, let's go in; I'm ready. I'm ready. Let's do that.
One of the things is that this retreat, this 72 hours of Easter, this retreat would always begin on a glorious high note. And I won't go into the history of the types of prayers that this retreat would start with, but this retreat did not start with, "you are a sinner far away from God. No! This retreat started with you are made of the substance of God and we are drawn together here for this 72 hours, because you want to be ever more beautiful and radiant expression of that substance.
And we see that early in the text John, when John gives us this very short story, brief account of Jesus renaming Simon as Petros. And the power of this is, and we've sort of lost it because, Petros can be translated as either stone, or rock.
And we've limited this text to Peter, when the whole text of John every figure in the text of John is about all humanity. It's like all of these characters in John arr stand-ins for every one of us.
And so, Jesus is saying, not just to Simon Peter of the First Century, but Jesus is saying to you, Seth, and to everyone who's listening and to me, you are rock or you are stone.
Now what does this mean for first century metaphor and what might this mean today? Well, just to go back to our Jewishness, we know that all the the ritual washing vessels in the synagogue or the temple were made of stone.
Now, why would a washing vessel, which in their senses you washed away your corruption in a washing vessel in Judaism, why would it be made of stone? It's because stone in their belief takes on no corruption. That stone is a permanent, maybe in our language, the metaphor would be better—it's like a diamond or gold, but it has a solid permanence. And Jesus is saying to Simon, and Jesus is saying to each one of us…
You are made of stone, you are made of the core substance of God. That's who you are and no matter what you do in your life, that's not going to change. You can run away from it, you can act against it, you can cover it over, you can forget it, you've got free will. All of those are all of those are choices you can make. But what is true, what Jesus is saying is, I understand, you are made of an incorruptible substance you were made, literally, of God's dust.
And so therefore, the opening meditation, or prayer, of the 72 hours of Easter was to remember this. Remember who you are. Remember the radiance that God has put in you. Remember that it's because of that radiance, because of that love we've come together with because we want that individually and corporately to shine more. So for all of those people who think about that the journey to Lent begins with a Rite of Ashes, I want you to remember that the Rite of Ashes is something that comes in Christianity 700 years later, and it comes from a moment, which is not our best moment. It comes from a time when we have lost the sense that we are inherently connected to God. And it comes from a time where we talked about how far away from God we are, and how we have to earn our way back into God's presence. What a bunch of hooey!
The early Christians had it better. We're not separated from God except maybe in our minds. God is right here as close as our heartbeat, claim it, live into it, know it, feel it, express it. And the feeling in the expression of that will draw you to want to do the work to be ever closer.
So this early Christian celebration of Easter was predicated on this is love calling to love. Jesus saying to you
You are love, that's who you are. And I am the heart of love, in my heart of love draws you closer, allow it.
So then the next series of Easter meditations are going to be to use great passages from John to understand how we are already part of this heart of love, and how we have perhaps forgotten or covered it over or, in some ways, went away from it. The church, in these days, traditionally used a series of Gospel texts with were surrounded with great prayer. And also, during the time that these great texts were read or prayed, we fasted. And we didn't fast because we were simple. We fasted because we wanted too so cleanse our body and our spirits, we want it to be so hungry to understand deeper the voice of love. That we wanted to actually have the longing not only in our minds and our hearts, but in our bodies. And we wanted to understand that the same longing that we had for food was also our longing for the voice of God.
And the texts that were used during this, these hours of fasting and reflection, and asking God to heal us of our brokenness before God, and our brokenness with each other. There were four texts:
Jesus and Nicodemus
Jesus and the woman at the well
Jesus and the man born blind and
Jesus and the raising of Lazarus
And each one of those text, have offered an examination of our life with each other, and how, because we all so deeply care about God and our experience of God. And that in part as humans, we take our longing to our heads and in our heads, we have all kinds of theological ideas, and that those theological ideas are brilliant, and yet they oftentimes end up separating us from each other.
And what we want to do in this early moment of Easter is we want to step away from the dogmatic formulations and fall in love with the fact that all of us are hungering and longing for our journey with God. That is what brings us together.
Hearing you talk about fasting in that way makes me sad at the way that people fast for Lent now. Just giving up chocolate or, or giving up Facebook, or giving up whatever. And not knowing the history of that and rethinking it now, “lip service” is not even the right word. It's less than that.
The early church would call this the wedding fast/the marriage fast, in the sense that this fast was not doleful or sorrowful or penitential…it was expected. That we…it was like in the midst of this Easter and our excitement about it. Almost the same as perhaps the excitement in whenever we are on the edge of a major experience in our life where our stomach sort of flutters and our focus is not on food.
So after these great meditations, and I realize for, for the sake of time, I won't go into like the impact of each of the four texts; but that when we come out of this, hearing these texts and reflecting on them and quietly asking for forgiveness before God and for each other for all the ways that we have not lived out the fullness of God's presence with us this past year.
We then enter into this incredible triumphant prayer, which is the full Easter experience. And it is John's text of the foot washing. And again, what's happened of late is that we looked at the foot washing in a historical way as a major marker on the way to Easter. Whereas the early church said; “Oh no. The foot washing is full on Easter!”
Because not as a ritual form alone. But if you understand that the longing for God and the gift of receiving God's grace in you, if you understand that—nobody has to tell you what to do next because what you want to do with that reality is you want to go out and you want to serve. You want to you want to serve everyone. You want to be the love that God has given you.
And this is the full washing ceremony. It was not about just 12 people it was here when our heart fully appreciates the experience of what God has done for me and is doing for me I don't have an option about foot washing. As I have been washed, I want to wash others, I want to wash all others. I want to bend and bow low before all others, and be a servant of our God of love. That might help awaken that same experience in their heart.
And that is only by our participation in the death and resurrection experience of Jesus the Christ that we can truly do quote unquote, foot washing. That as we understand the ego death and the death of our small selves before the greater God of love. That brings us to larger life and that was what the early church understood by death and resurrection. Death and resurrection at the end of life, they considered small death and resurrection they considered large death and resurrection. The moment that in your present moment life, you learn the way to lower your ego, the way you learn to sacrifice in some ways, your own ego desires and learn how to live for larger purpose. Learn how to live a larger reality. That for them was the great death and resurrection experience.
And they said to the degree that you practice that death and resurrection throughout your life, that final death and resurrection at the end of your life is going to be like a small cut on your finger. Because your whole way of being has been living the experience of death and resurrection. Yeah, it brings to mind the
Yeah, it brings to mind the the Scripture you die daily and the way that I hear that is a part of my prideful, selfish self, dies daily, and rises daily in love and in abundance and in service and in gratitude.
Yeah, tell it brother, amen!
I read you say somewhere or maybe I read someone else say somewhere maybe I heard it. I don't know. You spoke in the differences on when Jesus is on the cross, and they bring him the wine to drink, and there's either a difference, or they bring him his drink. There's a difference between John's Gospel with the other three are different with Mark’s Gospel with the others, and it's pivotal, and I can't remember which Gospel it is, can you speak to that a little bit?
Totally, is exactly the very next point and that is that the first celebration of Easter is foot washing. Because we see in the foot washing our participation in death and resurrection. The second celebration of full on Easter is John's passion and only John's passion.
And it is because in John's Passion Jesus on the cross, the wine is put to his lips in John. And in the other three text Jesus does not take the wine.
But in John's passion, he does take the wine.
And then right after he drinks, the bitter wine, and this is what's important about this, this is not the wine that we serve at table today. This is a very sour, bitter wine that most of us would turn away from.And when Jesus drinks the bitter wine, in John, he says
and now it is finished.
And the spiritual practice of Easter as reknitting the community in the face of love is that we too are being asked by the same power of Jesus Christ to agree to drink of the world's bitterness. That we do not turn away from the bitterness. We do not turn away from the divisions, we do not turn away from the hurts and the wounding, we drink it.
And by the fact that with Jesus, we drink it we also know the power of Jesus to transmute it.
And so then comes the standing and next line in John's text. And I don't mean this in the glorified sense. My tradition, the Roman Catholic tradition, we've got a lot of wounds going today, but I really like to give us some credit where credit is due.
The Catholic translation of the text of John in this one instance is a step above the other translations because they have maintained that the text at this moment should say,
having drunk the wine and said, Now it is finished. Jesus balance his head and delivers over the spirit.
In John and this is why John's passion is an Easter passion, not a Lenten passion. John's passion is death, resurrection at this moment and Pentecost. We're doing a spiritual truth. We're not doing a linear, historical truth, that, that the moment through the Christ, that any one of us can also drink of the world's bitterness by that same reality, then we too, will help deliver the spirit to the world.
And by Spirit you mean capital the Holy Spirit correct?
The Holy Spirit. The other three passions at this moment were recount Jesus as saying
Jesus bows his head and delivers over his spirit.
Jesus bows his head and delivers over the spirit
Literally, Jesus breathes out his last breath as the Spirit to the world from the cross.
People should have to pay money to hear that or no no, let's give it away for free. It's better free!
I, in the interest of time, and some constructive feedback from people I trust. I want to…so break apart Lent and we rethink Easter, and we move past the pageantry, and we find and embrace Christ that we are made of and being subsistent in. So for the people listening and just a thought in closing as they go into Holy Week into Easter with their church, with their families, with their communities…bring it home. So if we take away and we strip away the pageantry what do they take home? What do they rest in? How do they bring it all together? To summarize it?
Well, I mean, there there couple of things here in it. Yes. I have a 200 page text about the ancient Easter which is about, well it is some 800 years early or older than Holy Week. Holy Week is not…the early church would not have recognized Holy Week because it's predicated on the linear historical meditation on Jesus's last days. And what the early church is doing here is … here are the spiritual practices about how you reform and deepen communion and community. Most of us have nothing, have no power to reformulate Holy Week at this point. My mind invitation is pray Holy Week, be touched by the beauty of it.
But pray it as family and as community, and realizing that the power of it is that…remember the old saying when I was growing up, family that prays together stays together.
That part of the beauty and the power of Easter is in our marriages, in our families, and our communities, that we come together to pray together. That is the great Easter experience is the livening grace that happens in us because we pray together.
And secondly, regardless of what your community may be doing, or regardless of what words you might hear in the sermon, I would ask you to remember that these great prayer services of “Holy Week” are about the incarnate present moment, death and resurrection that's in the midst of your relationships and your family and your community. And reach for that and ask God for the grace of that.
And thirdly, remember that diversity is our largest cross and our greatest glory. Doing communities of uniformity is easier but that's not the journey that God is asking us for today. God is asking for us to find a oneness beneath the thoughts and the superficialities of what we look like and who we are; and to come home to know that beyond all that other stuff, we truly are brothers and sisters of the one source.
Amen. Amen to that. I want to save the remainder of your voice and I know you're with family and I appreciate the time that you've given this afternoon. And, as I alluded to at the end, Alexander, I've come to love your work and your ministry.
I've loved reading and people that don't, please follow Alexander on Facebook, he's extremely engaged, and heartfelt and interactive, which is refreshing.
And so how can how can people further engage in this thought process and this way of viewing Christ going forward? Where would you direct them to?
A couple of things. First of all, I would direct people to the website that supports this work which is www.quadratos.com and I'll spell that out. On the website is just a whole range of good information and podcasts like yours. And there's also a store in that store are links to buy the book, Heart and Mind. And especially the what I'm calling the community guides, which is a way for two or more people to come together, to read the journey of the Gospel as my spiritual journey with Christ.
And I just want to really invite people to look at those guides and perhaps grab one other, two other people. This is not about huge numbers.
Bring the Gospel journey alive in your life. Secondly, there is my Facebook page, which is Alexander John Shaia - author. It's my work Facebook page and there's just all sorts of further good material that's on that Facebook page.
So the Quadratos website. And Alexander John Shaia author, Facebook page. And then finally, the book, Heart and Mind: The Four Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation. And the word radical there is really true because if you work with Jesus Christ, Christ is not concerned about superficially changing your mind. Christ is inviting you to live from a deep place in the midst of trial and obstacles, and all the difficult news that we hear today. Do you want to know a radiant path of contentment, equality and service? The Four Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation So thats at the website, the Facebook page and of course the book.
Absolutely. Well, good. Well, I will let you go there. Thank you so much.
Seth, thank you so much and every blessing of Easter.
Thank you all for listening. Thank you for your engagement. I want to ask you to if you didn't do it at the beginning, do it now. Go to iTunes rank the show. That is the best way that you can help the conversations that are happening here, bubble up on the internet so that more people can interact with them. On top of that, share the show, share it with your family and friends, Facebook, social media, whatever Avenue you choose is a great avenue. And lastly, I would also ask if you feel so led to become a patron at patreon.com slash Can I say this at church you'll also find a link to that on the website. Can I say this at church com.
I am very grateful for those of you that have taken the time and your money to do so. I can't tell you how appreciative I am of your willingness to become part of the community that is the Can I say this a church podcast.
Talk to you next week.