I trust that you are all keeping safe and well. Be assured of my prayers for yourselves and your congregations and communities.
Attached is the midweek thought from David Spencer one of our Licensed Lay Ministers. Please distribute accordingly.
David will also be sharing some thoughts and reflections on Good Friday which can be accessed on the St.Mary’s website.
Do please remind people that the Easter Sunday Service will be on the website as is now our custom.
Even in these strange times let me still wish you all a Happy Easter and do continue to stay safe and well.
Midweek thought April 8th 2020
We are now in the middle of Holy Week. A week to walk through with Jesus and his disciples, from the great outpouring of joy and praise acknowledging Jesus as King and Messiah on Palm Sunday, through his betrayal, handing over, arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion and death on Good Friday. By the end of the Sabbath (Saturday) the disciples were fearful, anxious, uncertain and locked down (John 20:19).
We are now in the middle of our 3rd week of ‘lock down’. Many are lonely, fearful, anxious and uncertain of the future. The world as we have known it has changed dramatically so quickly. As I write the Prime Minister and many others are in intensive care, some families are grieving the death of loved ones, others the loss of human contact, unable to embrace, touch, and hug those they love. Perhaps this year we can more readily appreciate the plight of the disciples, and Jesus himself, because of our own situation. As we wait, facing uncertainty about the future, many are feeling, perhaps for the first time in their lives, out of control. Impotent. Faced with circumstances they did not have any say in, limited by restrictions forced upon them.
In the Biblical account of Holy Week, the language changes from the point of Jesus’ betrayal. Until now Jesus has been busy, active, constantly moving from place to place, from situation to situation, and always it is his intervention in a word or a deed which changes the situation. As he moves about, he leaves behind him a trail of transformed scenes and changed situations. People leave their jobs to follow him, people are restored to health, critics are confounded, storms stilled, hunger assuaged, and the dead raised. Jesus’ presence is an active and instantly transforming presence.
From the moment of his betrayal (Matthew 26:45ff, Mark 14:42ff, Luke 22:47ff, John 18:3ff) there is a transition from working to waiting, from doing to ‘being done unto’, from leading to being led, from causing things to happen to ‘having something happen to him’. However, we see clearly that this was not because Jesus was impotent or that he was forced against his will. When Peter retaliated with violence Jesus told him not to do so saying ‘Do you not think I cannot call on my Father and He will, at once, put at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels’ (Matthew 26:53). Again, (John 10:18) Jesus says ‘I lay down my life, no one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again’.
Far from being helpless, in Philippians 2:5-11 we read that Jesus did not consider his being God something to be used for his own advantage but rather, he chose to become a servant, a human being and to suffer for us because he loves us. Paul says in the same passage that we should choose to have the same attitude as Christ.
We are waiting in these uncertain times (something many of us find difficult to do), but unlike the disciples on that Saturday night/Sunday morning, we know that Jesus is alive and with us and in us, accompanying us every step of the way. When Jesus joined the disciples in that locked upper room he said ‘Peace be with you. Wait here until the Holy Spirit comes upon you with power’. From then on, they were now waiting with anticipation, knowing his presence with them, as we can know his presence with us.
While we are waiting, we can choose to spend time in his presence, and both receive for ourselves, and share with others who are fearful, anxious and uncertain, his Love, Joy, Peace and Grace; for these are contagious too – spread them around everywhere you go!