"Pro-Caesar is Anti-Christ" Sunday, April 3, 2022 Lent V, Sunshine Cathedral of Second Life

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Depositphotos_181063278_LCall to Worship

Sunshine Cathedral is a different kind of church

where the past is past

and the future has infinite possibilities!

This is the day our God has made.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer in Lent

May we be forgiven for forgetting our divine nature. 

May we be forgiven for failing to see the sacred value of all people. 

May we be healed of judging ourselves, and others, too harshly. 

May we forgive ourselves for not trusting in the absolute goodness and unconditional love of God. 

May we forgive ourselves and others of all mistakes, real or imagined, since God has always and only seen the truth of our endless goodness. 

May we now let our light shine and live as the children of God that we are. Amen. 

The Lessons

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The Wisdom of Lola Pauline Mays

In this moment I am lifted into a divine realization and see the truth about myself, my family, my neighbor, and my country. I realize that God within me, as intelligence, can clear my way as my mind remains in a state of peace. I no longer fight a battle of appearances, because I have accepted victory from within. In this calm trust I am awakened to the truth that all God can do for me must be done through me. This stabilizes my mind…I thank God…today for inner peace.

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A reading  from the Fourth Gospel (John 19.1-16a)

Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged, and the soldiers twisted thorn-twigs into a crown and put it on his head, threw a purple robe around him and kept coming into his presence, saying, “Hail, [the Jewish] king…!” And then they slapped him with their open hands.

Then Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I bring him out before you here, to show that I find nothing criminal about him at all.”

And at this Jesus came outside too, wearing the thorn crown and the purple robe. “Look,” said Pilate, “here’s the man!”

The sight of him made the chief priests…shout at the top of their voices, “Crucify! Crucify!” 

“You take him…,” retorted Pilate. “He’s no criminal as far as I can see!”


The [religious authorities] answered him, “He should die, for he made himself out to be Son of God!”

When Pilate heard them say this, he became much more uneasy, and returned to the palace again and spoke to Jesus, “Where do you come from?”

But Jesus gave him no reply. So Pilate said to him, “Won’t you speak to me? Don’t you realize that I have the power to set you free, and I have the power to have you crucified?”

“You have no power at all against me,” replied Jesus, “except what was given to you from above. And for that reason the one who handed me over to you is even more guilty than you are.”

From that moment, Pilate tried hard to set him free but [Jesus’ accusers] were shouting, “If you set this man free, you are no friend of Caesar! Anyone who makes himself out to be a king is anti-Caesar!”

When Pilate heard this, he led Jesus outside and sat down upon the Judgment-seat in the place called the Pavement... 

It was preparation day of the Passover and it was now getting on towards midday. Pilate said to the [crowd], “Look, here’s your king!”

At which they yelled, “Take him away, take him away, crucify him!”

Am I to crucify your king? Pilate asked them. “Caesar is our king and no one else,” replied the chief priests.

And at this Pilate handed Jesus over to them for crucifixion.

Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher

CLICK HERE for Audio of "Pro-Caesar is Anti-Christ"

Just when you thought that American politics could not get any stranger, former National Trade Council Advisor in the Trump administration, Peter Navarro, accused the former Vice-President of the United States of America, Mike Pence, of being a “traitor to the American Caesar of Trump.” Yes. That happened this week just as we make our way to Pilate’s Governor’s quarters in Jerusalem where we find Jesus in the process of being humiliated by the agent of the Caesar in power at the time, Tiberius Caesar Augustus.

You may not believe this but times have not changed so much from then. Evangelical so-called “Christians” in the United States elevated Trump to the level of Caesar, convincing themselves that loyalty to him would get them the things they wanted… power, prestige, and most importantly the power of the government to legislate their version of morality.

In Jesus day, the religious authorities were not much different. They manipulated the general public by using religion to shame or scare people into doing what Caesar wanted them to do. In exchange the religious elite were allowed to keep their offices as High Priests, places of honor and respect.

In both cases the religious authorities who propped up these “Caesars” told their followers and in some cases themselves, that holding their nose and following a brutal authoritarian government was a reasonable trade for getting their own moral agenda enacted. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s no accident that Vladimir Putin  orders daily murders, torture, and destruction ofa peace loving democratic country in the name of “saving the church” or “de-natzifying” the country with a Jewish president. Religious zeal has been used as a tool of manipulation of people since well… the beginning of religion!

In our gospel Jesus is humiliated by the soldiers in Pilate’s palace courtyard. He’s beaten, whipped, and a crown of thorns is placed upon his head making fun of the name the people have called him, “The King of the Jews.” They put a purple robe on him and harassed and made fun of him. But he did not strike back. He did not take the bait. And he did not capitulate and agree to stop making what John Lewis would call “Good Trouble.”

Just as Alexi Navalny returned to Russia after narrowly escaping death by poisoningonly to find himself jailed for decades, Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the Passover knowing what would happen to him there but also knowing that capitulating to evil and power does not bring about the realm of God on earth.

And so the people, manipulated by propaganda and disinformation, cried out for Jesus to be crucified. Imagine… just one week previous they had laid their cloaks and palm fronds on the ground as he rode into Jerusalem, not on a mighty steed, but on a donkey colt. They laid these things on the road ahead of him as a sign of respect and honor and yet, by Thursday they are screaming in the streets, “Crucify him!”

Some people try to make Pilate out to be the good guy in the story saying that he kept saying, “He’s no criminal as far as I can see!” But he did not release him. He did not set him free to live his life and continue to preach God’s good news of love. Rather he manipulated the people into thinking that he would have let Jesus go were it not for the High Priests and the people shouting for his execution.

We must be careful as we live each day at this time in history. Propaganda and disinformation is all around us. We must continually refuse to listen to what people say and instead look at the fruits of what they do. We must judge people by their actions, not their words.

I leave you today with a verse from the bible. I ask you to memorize it, hold it in your heart, speak it from your mouth, write it down, keep it, put it on a post it note or as a pop up on your computer. Keep it close at hand to you in this treacherous time so that you can remain focused on the most important thing. The verse is Deuteronomy 30:19….

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

The choice is ours. Will we follow the crowd and take the bait put out by propaganda and disinformation campaigns? Will we grow weary of war and turn away? Will we tell ourselves that taking in and taking care of refugees is not our job? Will we hoard our privilege and refuse to share our good fortune? Or… will we choose life, understanding that whatever we do for the least of our brothers we do for the sake of the Christ!

Choose wisely. Ken Yehi Ratzon Let it be so. Amen

For a list of music suggested to meditate on for this service click the link below:

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