This evening is in a way a day of closings. It’s the end of the week, and the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think our television has been on almost nonstop for 17 days now. And it’s been good seeing our Canadian athletes doing so well. 14 gold medals, more than any country has ever won in any winter Olympics. I think the early glitches of the games were pretty much forgotten as we showed the world how we party at home. People in the street spontaneously singing the national anthem? That’s pretty remarkable for any country anywhere, I’d say. And of course, we made sure to remind the world that hockey is our game. I might have over-tweeted that point, but there it is. Here we are being Canadian… thoroughly proud to the core of all our athletes who scored a podium finish, and feeling sorry for those who didn’t, whether those others are Canadian or not.
I was fortunate to draw the duty of attending to these three crucifixions. It’s an assignment that every centurion wants to receive. There’s no real difficulty to it, no heavy marching — just standing by and joining the jeering and cheering of the crowd. Friends and neighbours often come by, allowing for a bit of a visit while on duty. You’re there as a guard, but what’s going to happen? Is one of them about to fight his way off his cross? Ha! There’s a certain stature that comes with being seen in this role. People fear you, associating you with the power to put these criminals and insurgents to death. The sight of the crosses from past crucifixions further along the road, with the bones still hanging off them after the birds had taken away the flesh always inform the sight of the men currently being nailed to their crosses with an immediate horror. Not for us centurions of course, but for the condemned men and for the onlookers. Not the kind of horror that makes them turn away, but the kind that makes them call out their support of the death sentence, that makes them go to extra lengths to make it known that they fall in step behind our Roman rule. Everything as it should be. There’s no better deterrent than the specter of a public crucifixion.
The other day I was talking with a friend about his week-long visit last year to Patmos. While there he of course visited the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1999 by UNESCO, it was established about 1,000 years ago, or about 1,000 years after John did his stint on the island and wrote the book of Revelation. As one tours the cave, some very specific matters are pointed out — this is where John slept, this is where he put his hand in an indentation in the cave wall to help him stand up, and this is where he dictated the book of Revelation.
Here it is, Holy Week already, and I’m still mentally behind the curve, having barely entered into Lent. We’ll see if I can manage to catch up a little, as this evening we’re taking the kids to do the stations of the cross at St. Ben’s, this evening being geared particularly toward children and families. Thursday evening we’re gathering together for a meal with our little band of ecclesiastical vagrants — we’ve done this every year on Maundy Thursday for the past number of years, and it generally promises to be a good time. Hopefully I’ll come up with some thematic things to say around here for the balance of the week too, as I’ve done in past years (see last year’s list of past Holy Week posts), including a detailed retelling of the events of Holy Week both for adults and for kids.
With Advent just over a week away now, Advent resources are beginning to appear online, including Christine Sine’s New Advent Meditation and planned synchroblogs. I organized a synchroblog last year for Advent, and have collected all the post links for reference as well. I’ve also begun to reread some of my past posts for the season, like Bethlehem and Mixing metaphors, and Kicking your way to the Light. There are also collections of Advent resources appearing online as well.
I’m starting to think on these themes just a little, as the SBT Book of Hours project is getting underway. Oddly enough, Lent was subscribed pretty quickly, with Christmas and Advent falling behind. I didn’t have any particular leaning and offered to fill in where necessary, so drew Vespers during the Christmas season as a result. There’s still an opening left under Advent, so I’m considering that too.
This week we’ve been stepping through some of the major post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. We began on Monday with his meeting with Mary, then the Emmaus road encounter, followed by his appearances to the eleven and the shoreside breakfast encounter.
Formally, the last appearance of the risen Christ in the flesh would have been at his ascension. This image of the event was painted by John Singleton Copley in 1775. The event itself is mentioned in most of the Gospels and several epistles but the most detail is provided by Luke in Acts 1, where Luke also tells us that Jesus “appeared to the apostles from time to time,” during the 40 days following his resurrection. This is consistent with the impression one gets from a combined reading of the gospels, that not every post-resurrection appearance of Jesus is recorded. Paul records a further list in his correspondence to the Corinthians:
This week I’ve got a miniseries going on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It’s not going to be an exhaustive list, but we started with his appearance to Mary (and the other women), then his encounter with Cleopas & Co. on the Emmaus road and around the table, followed yesterday by his first appearances to the eleven as they gathered together behind closed doors, including his first meeting with Thomas, the Johnannine Pentecost, and an appearance to Peter, of which we have no details. This brings us to the third appearance of Jesus to the disciples, a seaside encounter in John 21 where the disciples land a miraculous catch of fish at Jesus’ instruction, then haul them to shore to find Jesus already has some fish cooking over a charcoal fire, along with some bread for their breakfast.
Okay, so I guess it’s a miniseries now… the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. We’ve looked so far at his appearance to Mary (and the other women) and his encounter with Cleopas & Co. on the Emmaus road and around the table at Emmaus. Next up would be Jesus’ appearances to the twelve as they gathered together behind closed doors. When the Emmaus disciples arrive back in Jerusalem and find the eleven disciples (Luke 24), it appears they are in hiding behind locked doors (John 20)… but they readily accept the account of Cleopas and his friend, in part because Peter has also seen Jesus. No mention is made of his appearance to Mary as further proof.