This Easter come with us as we journey through Holy Week with Jesus. Follow a series of daily reflections from members of our congregations and others in video and word form.
Monday 29th March
St. John chapter 14 v 1– 4
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My
Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."
‘Making the Journey’
When I first went to the New Wine (Christian festival) I had two friends who set up a tent for me and all I did was to turn up with my kids! They prepared everything and fed and watered me as well! What a gift. However, I did need to prepare myself and travel to the camp site.
In this reading we see Jesus telling us that He has gone ahead to prepare a ‘place’ for us but we still need to journey to that ‘place’. How is your journey going? Has it been trouble free, pain free, guilt free? I suspect not! But it is a journey we all need to make. We go forward…we take two steps back….we go forward five steps…we go back two…..life deals us events that make us stronger, make us cry and we hope ultimately lead us to Jesus. So how is your journey going? Can you press in over this Lent period and get closer to God? If we journey the same road as Jesus we have to know we will suffer. That’ s what happened to Him. Are we prepared for that? Some days I confess I am not…….but I DO want to be with Jesus so let us keep going . Let us continue to make the journey and have Jesus as our companion. He makes the travelling so much easier.
Tuesday 30th March
God's Love and my soul
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
'A guest', I answered, ,'worthy to be here':
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, the ungrateful? Ah my dear
I cannot look on Thee.'
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
' Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and eat my meat.'
So I did sit and eat.
Wednesday 31st March
‘He really is that big!’
Isaiah 40:25-31 (NIV)
25 “ To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you say, Jacob, and complain O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
This passage is in the form of a monologue.
The speaker is God himself.
The verses can be divided into 3 sections.
In v.25+26 God is challenging comparison. A picture of a vault of heaven is created, seeming to be a pastureland over which a vast flock is following its Shepherd.
Thought: If God leads and cares for the stars will He not do as much for his people? Will He not guide and guard each?
We get a picture of God the CREATOR and SUSTAINER. A God of GREAT POWER and MIGHTY STRENGTH.
In v.27+28 we see how Israel has become self-pitying and complaining. Here God tells them that He is everlasting. He does not grow tired or weary. His understanding is unsearchable. We learn that His ways are not always our ways. His agenda is … different from our agenda!
Thought: We have the privilege of seeing God’s character revealed in Jesus Christ. How much more should we be convinced of his omnipotence! Let us remember that His timing is different from our timing and His timing is always perfect. His strength and power never fail. We get a picture of God, the EVERLASTING God.
He is CONSISTANT on behalf of his people.
In v.29-31 God is telling us what He would like to do. Because He loves us so much, he promises to those who hope in Him, to give renewed strength and increased power, way beyond
human comprehension. A beautiful picture of a soaring eagle, the king of birds, reminds us to trust in Him in an effortless and peaceful way.
Thought: We trust the Lord God because He is ABLE and WILLING to lift us up and out of our deepest trials..
We get a picture of God full of LOVE and COMPASSION
Thursday 1st April
‘Let this cup pass?’
Written by a Franciscan Monk in 1372
Amazing just how real and alive people’s relationship with God has been—throughout history!
Language …as spoken in his time:
A sory beverech it is and sore it is abouht
Nou in this sarpe time this brewing hat me brouht,
Fader, if it mowe ben don als I have besouht
Do awey this beverech, that I ne drink et nouht.
And if it mowe no betre ben, for alle mannis gilt,
That it ne muste nede that my blod be spilt,
Suete Ffder, I am thi sone, thi wil be fulfilt,
I am her thin owen child, I wil don as thou wilt.
Or as we might say:
A grievous drink it is, and grievously paid for
Now in this bitter time this brewing brought to me
Father, if it might be as I have begged you
Do away with this drink that I do not have to drink it.
And if it may no better be, for all man's guilt,
That it must needs be that my blood is spilt,
Sweet father, I am your son, your will be fulfilled
Here I am your own child, I will do as your will.
Good Friday 2nd April
‘Jesus crucified ...
our Day of Grace’
Perhaps it's no coincidence that the death of Jesus took place just as the Jewish nation was preparing to celebrate their most important historic event - The Passover. To better understand the significance of Christ's crucifixion let's remind ourselves of the events leading to the Israelites escape from slavery fourteen hundreds years earlier.
As God was about to unleash the final plague on the Egyptians he instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb, draining its blood into a basin. They were then told to daub it on the outside doorposts and lintels of their houses. That night God's destroying angel went throughout Egypt killing all the firstborn of the Egyptians but passed-over every house displaying blood and sparing the firstborn inside.
At Calvary God's plan to deal with sin reached its climax. His sinless, perfect son Jesus Christ became the spotless Passover Lamb and in dying took the punishment for our sin so that we might be brought back into a right relationship, ie fellowship with God. However, just as the Israelites had to apply blood to the doorposts for protection so we too need the apply and appropriate Christ's sacrifice by faith. This calls for repentance and asking forgiveness for past sins. As we do this He enters our lives (by His Holy Spirit) both now and for all eternity.
When Jesus' uttered his last words from the cross—"It is finished", not only had all the Old Testament references about his sufferings been fulfilled but God's plan for our salvation was satisfied. The era of continual animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins was over and a new era was ushered in, which nowadays is sometimes referred to as 'The Day of Grace'.
Saturday 3rd April
‘The time to weep
THE BURIAL of JESUS
There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh a time to mourn, and a time to dance . (Ecclesiastes 3 v 4)
So many tears shed over the last 12 months. Firstly tears of disappointment and frustration, as plans came to nothing, and meetings with family and friends were not allowed. Tears of sympathy followed, as we heard of the dreadful death toll from the virus, and saw on television photos of those who had died so unexpectedly. More anguished tears followed on as my own family members fell sick, and tears of sorrow as my mother died. I chose a waterfall as an illustration, where different outlets for grief pour over the rocks in braids. There are many reasons to lament, or grieve, I haven't mentioned all of them. However, just as the various streams join together, they actively flow on, they don't stay still. These experiences can turn us to prayer.... tell God how you are feeling, share in other's pain and loss as you express solidarity with them to your Heavenly Father. Just as the water flows over the rocks, I remember the words of a hymn "God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?". Deuteronomy 33 and verse 27 tells us that "underneath are the everlasting arms". We are not alone. Just as the rocks are beneath the flow of water, God is our "Rock".
Read John 19 verses 38-42:
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[a] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
We are not told whether Joseph of Arimathea shed tears when Jesus died, but in his grief he decided to do something practical. It would have been difficult for him as a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council) to follow Jesus openly, so Joseph had been a secret disciple. He did not weep in secret though, in broad daylight he purchased a linen shroud for Jesus, (Mark 15 verse 46) and took responsibility for Jesus' burial in a new tomb. He had to ask permission from Pilate - there is no doubting his allegiance at this point! He had found a new boldness.
As we grieve over Christ's crucifixion, reflect on how our laments can lead on then, to prayer and practical actions.
‘He is Risen—Alleluia!’
Easter Day Reflection - Revd. Karen
Our Easter celebrations form the heart of our Christian living. Our faith is deeply rooted and finds its real meaning in the resurrection of Jesus. St Paul says that, if Christ is not risen, then all our believing is in vain. Because of the resurrection, the disciples, who were at first paralysed with fear of being arrested as accomplices of Jesus, suddenly made a complete turnaround and began boldly to proclaim that Jesus, who died on the Cross, was alive and with them. And when they were arrested, persecuted and imprisoned, it became a cause of rejoicing that they were now even more closely related to the life experience of their Lord, sharing in his sufferings that they might share in his glory.
The celebration of Easter reminds us that we have the same mission as Peter and Mary Magdalen and the other disciples of Jesus. Peter emphasises the importance of Jesus’ disciples not only experiencing the joy of their risen Master and Lord but also of sharing that experience and joy with as many people as possible. Being faithful witnesses to the good news of the gospel has been the main focus of our Lent Course this year. We have been preparing ourselves for life ‘post lockdown’ and finding new, exciting and innovative ways to be effective witnesses to our community. It is something that we are asked by Jesus to do. Not to share our Easter joy and what it means to us is to leave Easter only half celebrated. For the Christian, every day is an Easter Day lived joyfully in the close company of the risen Lord. For the second Easter in a row our celebrations are going to be different.
In reality however, is any celebration on my part going to fully encapsulate what happened on that day? Is there any way for me to completely commemorate what Christ did for me? No, I don’t believe there is. So where does that leave our Easter celebrations this year? I suggest that we Pause and Reflect I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing I can do in one day to celebrate what Christ did. So what am I to do at Easter, then?
Pause. I will be leading the service in BFPC on Easter Day. I’m going to enjoy the last service that I lead for you and enjoy your fellowship. But I want to really take time to reflect and consider what this day is about and the cause for celebration. I want to take time to stop and think. To hear voices raised in worship, praise and prayer to God. To see sunlight shining through church windows and washing over wooden pews. I want to remember what God has done and pay closer attention to what He’s doing.
However, it’s the days after Easter where I think our celebration truly begins. Let’s think about the words of Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.” I believe the only way for me to truly commemorate what Christ did for me on Easter is to give Him my entire life. All that I have is given to Him in service for what He’s done. There’s really nothing more that I can possibly give. There’s no greater celebration or commemoration. If I could give more, I would. But I think God understands. In fact, I think that’s exactly what He wants. So, on Easter Day, I’m going to take time to pause and think. And the days after that? Well, that will be up to God.
I pray that you have a blessed Easter: you will all continue to be in my prayers.
He is risen!