Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr
November 22, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are struck, once again, with Revelation’s images of the end time!
- a crowned Christ wielding a sharp sickle
- angels commanding the final harvest of the earth
and perhaps the most powerful
- the earth’s vintage thrown into the great winepress of God’s fury!
This author could write! We can almost imagine the scene, filmed with all the pyro-technics of today’s computer age.
In Biblical symbolism, the winepress almost always stands for judgment. The passage reminds us that we all will be judged. The divine winepress will compress the sinful gaps that plague our human existence. In the end time, there will be no “other” — no judgmental spaces separating us from one another. We will all be one, like wine mingled.
We will be judged on how we lived that oneness in this life, on where we have stood in the worldly gap between the:
- rich and poor
- well and sick
- citizen and refugee
- abled and disabled
- powerful and vulnerable
The questions for us as we pray today amy be these:
- Do we live in ignorance or indifference to those who suffer on the other side of the human scale?
- Have we been impervious to the imbalances of justice and charity in this world?
- And how do we respond?
The passage suggests that we do some weeding of our spiritual gardens before the harvest of our souls. The intention of this fiery writer is to tell us that we still have a little time to do so.
Poetry: Barnfloor and Winepress – Gerard Manley Hopkins
And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?
out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?
2 Kings VI: 27
Thou that on sin's wages starvest,
Behold we have the joy in harvest:
For us was gather'd the first fruits,
For us was lifted from the roots,
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore,
Scourged upon the threshing-floor;
Where the upper mill-stone roof'd His head,
At morn we found the heavenly Bread,
And, on a thousand altars laid,
Christ our Sacrifice is made!
Thou whose dry plot for moisture gapes,
We shout with them that tread the grapes:
For us the Vine was fenced with thorn,
Five ways the precious branches torn;
Terrible fruit was on the tree
In the acre of Gethsemane;
For us by Calvary's distress
The wine was racked from the press;
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.
In Joseph's garden they threw by
The riv'n Vine, leafless, lifeless, dry:
On Easter morn the Tree was forth,
In forty days reach'd heaven from earth;
Soon the whole world is overspread;
Ye weary, come into the shade.
The field where He has planted us
Shall shake her fruit as Libanus,
When He has sheaved us in His sheaf,
When He has made us bear his leaf. -
We scarcely call that banquet food,
But even our Saviour's and our blood,
We are so grafted on His wood.
Music: The Day Is Surely Drawing Near – written by the prolific 16th century Lutheran hymnist Bartholomaüs Ringwaldt. This piece is a majestic instrumental rendering, but if you would like to see the words, they are below.
1 The day is surely drawing near
When Jesus, God’s anointed,
In all His power shall appear
As judge whom God appointed.
Then fright shall banish idle mirth,
And flames on flames shall ravage earth
As Scripture long has warned us.
2 The final trumpet then shall sound
And all the earth be shaken,
And all who rest beneath the ground
Shall from their sleep awaken.
But all who live will in that hour,
By God’s almighty, boundless pow’r,
Be changed at His commanding.
3 The books are opened then to all,
A record truly telling
What each has done, both great and small,
When he on earth was dwelling,
And ev’ry heart be clearly seen,
And all be known as they have been
In thoughts and words and actions.
4 Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised His precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.
5 My Savior paid the debt I owe
And for my sin was smitten;
Within the Book of Life I know
My name has now been written.
I will not doubt, for I am free,
And Satan cannot threaten me;
There is no condemnation!
6 May Christ our intercessor be
And through His blood and merit
Read from His book that we are free
With all who life inherit.
Then we shall see Him face to face,
With all His saints in that blest place
Which He has purchased for us.
7 O Jesus Christ, do not delay,
But hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way
In fear and tribulation.
O hear and grant our fervent plea;
Come, mighty judge, and make us free
From death and ev’ry evil.