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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today we rememberToday the church remembers Joseph of Arimathea.

Joseph was a wealthy and pious Jew and a member of the Sanhedrin, the council that tried Jesus. The Gospel according to Luke indicates that Joseph did not consent to the decision that Jesus be crucified, and other scriptures suggest that he may have absented himself from the trial. It is believed that he was a secret disciple of Christ, like Nicodemus.

After the crucifixion, Joseph displayed considerable courage in going to Pilate and asking for the privilege of burying the body of Jesus with proper care and ceremony. In fact, Joseph reverently laid the body of Jesus in the fine tomb he had prepared for himself. John"s Gospel indicates that Nicodemus helped Joseph prepare the body for burial. Looking back today, aware of the resurrection that was to come, we tend not to see just how loyal, generous, and, indeed, profound this gesture must have been.

Long-standing tradition has it that Joseph came to England and founded a church at Glastonbury. Arimathaea was a fishing village and Joseph was a rich man. Just about the only way a person could get rich in Arimathaea was in the shipping trade. We know that in the first century merchants shipped tin from mines in southwest England to the Levant. Archaeologists have found evidence of first-century Christian settlement in the vicinity of Glastonbury. All of these things make it possible that the medieval church may have had it right, and Joseph of Arimathaea may have been “The Apostle to Britain.”

Almighty God: strengthen us to be bold in our care of one another, that we might be witnesses of your love and power. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathea with reverence and godly fear prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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