March 26, 2015
Courageous women have been on my mind, of late.
There is "Ann", a parishioner and lay leader in long-time recovery who is sharing her own Gospel witness of experience, strength and hope as the homily in front of over 30 priests at our Maryland Episcopal Clergy Association (MECA) Eucharist this morning.
There is “Miriam”, another woman I know who has been struggling recently with homelessness, who lives with anxiety, depression and the consequences of painful family dysfunction and the recurrence of tough setbacks in her life.
And then, there is Egeria ...
I wish I had really known her, but since she lived in the 4th century, and since I haven’t yet figured out how to time-travel, I have settled on getting to know her through what she wrote.
And what she wrote was an account of her travels to the Holy Land. She was either a nun - or a woman “of means” -- or perhaps both? Regardless, in the latter part of the 4th century, she made a lone pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Lone. Pilgrimage. To the Holy Land. As a woman. In the 4th century.
It is thanks to Egeria and her accounts that we know of the Christian liturgies and worship that had already developed and were taking place in Palestine at that time. In fact, our current Holy Week liturgies owe much to Egeria and her courage.
On how 4th century followers of Christ commemorated Our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Egeria writes:
... and the bishop immediately rises, and all the people with him, and they all go on foot from the top of the Mount of Olives, all the people going before him with hymns and antiphons, answering one to another: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And all the children in the neighbourhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives, and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old. (http://www.ccel.org/m/mcclure/etheria/etheria.htm)
This Sunday at Redeemer and in places of Christian worship around the world, we 21st century followers of Christ will carry on the sacred tradition of praising Our Lord with the singing of hymns and the waving of palm branches that Egeria witnessed and wrote about over 1600 years ago, as we begin the holiest of weeks in our church year.
In the words of another courageous woman from fairy-tale and recent-hit-movie lore, “Have courage and be kind.”
And do come to church this Sunday!