From the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art:
Most of my Webster voice students joined me for dinner this evening, in between rehearsals for a show. The menu included roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered carrots, roasted asparagus, cheese grits, and a pineapple pie for dessert.
Five of my six seniors joined this evening. And my heart is full.
This classic Paschal or Easter Sermon is from Saint John Chrysostom, fifth century early church father and one of the greatest preachers of all time. This homily for Holy Pascha exhorts all, even those who have not kept the Lenten fast, to rejoice and enter into the Easter feast of the resurrection.
Let all Pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; he repays the deed and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness.
Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and life is freed, Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Yet again last evening at Maundy Thursday service, as it has so many times before, this hymn slayed me. Husky voice. Tearful singing. Such wonder in these lyrics.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like thine!
This is my Friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend.
The setting: Neimerg’s Steakhouse in Effingham, Illinois. The three-sided counter like you see in old restaurants, near the window to the kitchen.
The actors: Rob, an 80ish man with a red Cardinals cap. He hasn’t shaved in several days. And he sighs after every slurp of coffee. Joe, and 80ish man, taller than Rob. Joe has no teeth. He’s in a John Deere cap.
Rob is sighing after a sip of coffee. Joe sits down beside him. They clearly know each other.
Joe states that all the does is go from bed to the doctor to the hospital and back to bed.
Rob comments on the fact that his skin itches.
And then ensues a five-minute conversation between two wizened senior citizens . . . about which soap they use, how their skin feels, and what the best soap is.
Irish Spring is the winner.
But that’s only after Rob asserts that he uses shampoo all over his body, since it’s easier that way.
And I’m in stitches. I finished my peach pie and left with a smile on my face.
My listening list this past weekend included NPR (of course), and the cast albums too
- BIG, the Musical
- Sweet Smell of Success
- Half A Sixpence (2016)
- Take Flight
Plus, some sacred choral music from All Saints, Beverly Hills; an album of songs by the Sherman Brothers (really wonderful stuff on the Fynsworth Alley label); and a duet CD by Aflie Boe and Michael Ball (pretty dreckish, but on a major label).
Pretty eclectic stuff, this . . . .
I’m obsessed with Half a Sixpence.