Showing items filed under “The Rev. Erin Jean Warde”

Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father

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In Matthew 20:20-23, we are introduced to the mother of James and John, who begs of Jesus, “‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking… You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’” Jesus reiterates in verses 25-28, “’You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”

The mother of James and John asks that her sons sit at the right and left hand of God in order that they might be exalted, but when we say that Christ ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father we mean that Christ is not exalted in this world, but instead underwent the crucifixion so that he might be glorified in heaven. St. Thomas of Aquinas, in his article “Whether it is fitting that Christ should sit at the right hand of God the Father?” quotes St. Augustine’s words that “Christ dwells so at the right hand of the Father: for He is happy, and the Father’s right hand is the name for His bliss.” In a sense, Christ’s seat at the right hand of the Father is the eternal beauty that he finally receives after the suffering he experienced on this earth. When Jesus proclaims that the Father has prepared a place for us, the place for Jesus is specifically at His right hand. It would seem that, lifted high in his crucifixion, Christ was able to reach up and wipe the dust off of the seat at the right hand of God, the seat where he knew he would sit after his ascension.

Additionally, St. Thomas of Aquinas writes that, “Christ is said to sit at the right had of the Father inasmuch as He reigns together with the Father, and has judiciary power from Him; just as he who sits at the king’s right hand helps him in ruling and judging.” Consistent with the upheaval of the world’s power through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God mirrors the system of a king and those at the king’s right hand, but transformed into a kingdom with God’s justice in place. Christ’s presence within the kingdom, Christ sitting at the Father’s right hand, means that he will serve as judge. We know by his life, death, and resurrection that Christ’s presence in judgment means that our judgment will ultimately be met with divine grace.

When we say that Christ ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, I believe we mean that through his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, Christ now dwells with God, offering a judgment alongside the Father that looks like grace. Christ sitting with the Father might mean for us that, while we stand, kneel, or prostrate ourselves as we wait for the second coming, Christ sits—at peace, and in no rush to stop offering grace from the right hand of God.

Posted by The Rev. Erin Jean Warde with

Theology Matters: What Anglicans Believe About Holy Communion

What Anglicans Believe About Holy Communion

I did not grow up Episcopalian, and it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I took the Eucharist for the first time.  I remember not going forward for the first few visits I made to St. Mark’s in Troy, Alabama, then finally daring to kneel in front of the altar to take the bread and cup.  I walked back to my pew and, following what everyone else was doing, knelt in silence to pray.  I could still feel the warmth of the wine in my chest, and taste it on my tongue.

Holy Eucharist is like that, in that even when we have left the altar, it remains with us.  It follows us, stuck on our tongues, and in our hearts.  When we take the Eucharist, we believe we are mysteriously receiving the presence of God.  We know through Holy Scripture that God has showed God’s faithfulness to us in countless ways—the deliverance of the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the creation of the Church, and in even more ways, happening now.  One of the many ways God shows God’s faithfulness to us is through nourishing us with the bread of life that will give us what we need to navigate the challenging life of faith. 

In our catechism, the Eucharist is described as having the benefits of “forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.”  The Book of Common Prayer also says that it is “required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people” in order to come to the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is, simply put, a gathering of community.  As anyone in a community knows, the life of community is not an easy calling.  Being together means recognizing that we have sinned against both God and one another, and asking God for forgiveness.  Being together means being reminded of our need for union with Christ and one another.  Being together means that we strive to create peace where there is discord as best we can now, in our flawed world, knowing that God has created a place for us in the heavens that has no division within it.  

Eucharist is a reminder that we cannot live this Christian faith and life alone.  In order to live in community, we are required to examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people, all of which is wrapped up in the thinnest wafer and smallest sip of wine.  The Eucharist requires us to dare to get over ourselves through the humble act of receiving the gift of bread and wine, so that we might be transformed by God into a people who treasure the presence of God over our own pride.  I may not agree with you, but I will kneel beside you, and together we will taste and see that the Lord is good.

The word Eucharist means thanksgiving.  Yes, if we are to have a conversation about what Eucharist means in our tradition, it cannot miss the fact that the Eucharist introduces us to the real presence of God, provides nourishment for the journey, and instructs us in how to be disciples.  However, we also cannot miss the fact that for us, Eucharist conjures up within us the overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel for the love, grace, and truth given to us in the one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Eucharist is a mysterious act, and it is intended to be so.  What is not mysterious to us when we receive the bread and drink of the cup is the abundant love that is shown to us in God, and our commandment to follow the way of Jesus.

Warde is Associate Rector for Christian Formation for Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas.

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