Saturday, 15 April 2017

Making peace with the silence

Mark 15:40-41
There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Holy Week has been strangely jarring this year
I've been hyper conscious of the preoccupation of others
Those who have been busy preparing services
Those who have been taking part in worship
Those who have been getting ready to welcome family
or have been catching up with friends.
Preoccupation has been tangible
God, too, seems preoccupied
Perhaps unsurprisingly
Preoccupied by the plight of countless victims of violence
Preoccupied by war and rumours of war
Preoccupied by history repeating itself
as those who seek to bring peace
or to live in love with others
are scapegoated
Preoccupied by the sight of those who call out injustice
being subjected to persecution and death.
Today, I walked the beach
in a preoccupied but easy silence with God
and I was grateful for the companionship
in this week of preoccupation
and on this day of silent waiting.

The silence of death

John 19:38-42
The Burial of Jesus
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The silence
Of sabbath
Of burial
Of death
The agony
Of betrayal
Of abandonment
Of separation
The severing
Of Trinity
The hiatus
Of Holy Saturday
A broken body
laid in a tomb

Friday, 14 April 2017

We Crucified Jesus


John 19:16-20
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

The place where Jesus was crucified
was near the city
In the midst of life
where people went about their business
A spectacle
that many beheld
yet were powerless to prevent
Jesus was crucified
by the authorities
who act on behalf of the people
even when some of those people object
Still today
we become complicit
in acts of violence
perpetrated in our name
Our complicity is not negated
by our objection
or by our cries of outrage.
Even when we cry
Not in my name
we still end up
with blood on our hands.
We crucified Jesus
We dropped the biggest non nuclear bomb
on Afghanistan
We retaliated to chemical warfare in Syria
while turning our backs on migrants and refugees
We looked on while people died of hunger
in a world rich in resources
The place where Jesus was crucified 
was near the city
in the midst of life
And still today
violence goes on
in the midst of life
where people go about their business
We crucified Jesus.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Servant

ON THE THURSDAY

John 13:1-7
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Nothing makes sense
when cast in the light
of the unfathomable love of Christ
The Creator of the Universe
stoops to wash our feet
And we, who find such selfless giving
hard to witness or bear
are simply asked
to accept 
the wonderful grace of God
served up
in service
for us.
What a gift!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Betrayer

ON THE WEDNESDAY

John 13:21-32
Jesus Foretells His Betrayal
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
The New Commandment
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

The betrayer
is always another
We rarely see in ourselves
the capacity for evil
that we ascribe to others
We prefer not to consider
how little it might take
for us to succumb
and sell our souls
for fleeting reward
Yet, when the night comes
and shadows fall
which of us
can stand firm in the light?







Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My soul is troubled


ON THE TUESDAY

John 12:20-36
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
Jesus Speaks about His Death
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
The Unbelief of the People
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

The light of the world walked among us
And we did not recognise him
His soul was troubled
And we did not offer any comfort
God spoke
And our ears were deaf
And even when all was revealed
Even today, with the gift of hindsight
We choose not to see
Love laid bare
We refuse to hear
God's voice telling us
You are my beloved children of the light


Monday, 10 April 2017

Where is the love?


Psalms 36:5-9
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

Where is the Love 
Where is the Light
Where is the Faithfulness of God
whose wings provide refuge
whose provision sustains life?
When terror comes
and evil stalks the earth
where might justice be found?
We cry to you, O God
out of the depths of our fear
and brokenness.
In a world where children are poisoned
or used as pawns in power games
where presidents pontificate
and rulers ride roughshod over those 
unable to fight back
we cry out
for your justice
and your compassion
and your peace
that binds the broken hearted
and lifts those weary of suffering
Gives us eyes to see
and wisdom to perceive
how to bring about justice
how to bring peace
how to transform our world
by being transformed
by the light of your love
that shines in every darkness.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Which crowd?


Matthew 21:6-9
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

So which crowd will I be in
The one that shouts Hosanna
Or the one that cries Crucify?
Or will I, like so many others
Be caught up in the fervour of the day
and just go along with the others for safety's sake
Good rarely comes of rocking the boat
Those who go against the crowd 
are often crushed
But, every once in a while,
we have to stand alone
We cannot always hide among the crowd
So what will I stand for
Shall I have the courage of my convictions
Or will I succumb yet again
to the energy and safety of the crowd.
Hosanna?
Or Crucify?
The choice is mine.
The consequence His.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Let the light in

John 12:36-40
While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
The Unbelief of the People
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.
This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”

The miracle of belief
in those whose hearts are hardened
those who have succumbed
to the harshness of life
whose sympathies have given way
to cynical unbelief
erected as a protection
for tender hearts
tired of being broken.
The miracle of sight
for those who no longer see
the good and the kind and the noble
because too many times
their eyes have been wounded
with the pain of the world
The miracle of light
for those who prefer
the gentleness of darkness
in which is found retreat
from the pain of the day
and rest for souls wearied
by the gaudy colours
of passing pleasures
The miracle of healing
for all who believe
for all who look to the light
and find there balm for their souls
and hope, faith and love.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Entertaining Angels

Hebrews 13:1-2
Service Well-Pleasing to God
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Simply going about
the business of loving others
Seeking to care for another
serving their needs
holding them in high regard
Getting on with
the tasks of love
that need no fanfare
but are whispered
in every action
that brightens the day
for another
in every deed 
that eases another's burden.
Showing hospitality
by opening our hearts
and our homes
to friends and strangers
to angels in disguise
Blessed to be a blessing.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Still more to do...

Luke 13:31-35
The Lament over Jerusalem
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

No slacking for Jesus
Even with the end in sight
he took no prisoners
refused to divert his course
but ploughed on
delivering, healing
accomplishing
all that he came to do
before setting his face toward Jerusalem
the city that lay in wait
to dispatch him
as it dispatched others .
And, even though he had a notion
of the fate that awaited him there
Jesus was moved with compassion
over a city
and a people
who had lost their way.
Compassion that saw beyond his own dire straits
to go on caring for others.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Fragrance of love

John 12:1-3
Mary Anoints Jesus
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

As the fragrance of the costly oil
spread its tendrils around the room
assaulting the senses
and sensibilities
of those gathered
As they breathed in its perfume
and witnessed the unfiltered act
of sheer love
each was assaulted
by their own reaction
each drawn in to wonder
about the extravagance
about the spectacle
about the urge that drove Mary
to indulge in such a gesture.
And might their discomfort
have been more about 
their hardness of heart
their inability to let go
their envy of one
who bared her soul
than about Mary's 
unadulterated
expression of love?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Promised


Hebrews 11:39 - 12:2
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Not complete
without one another
Each of us
has a part
and a place
in the race of life
Hobblers
Walkers
Joggers
Sprinters
Runners
The race waits for us
to find our pace
and take our space
in that great company
where all are accommodated
embraced
enfolded
welcomed
and carried along
by a tidal wave of love
to where Christ waits
to greet us 
and to make us whole.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Turn

Joel 2:12-13
Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.

Never too late
Always a way back
A way back to the God
of grace
and mercy
and love.
Even now
God waits
for our return
with arms open wide
in welcome.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Compassion

Matthew 20:29-34
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
Compassion
Noticing others
In tune with their distress
Listening to what they want
Filtering out the noise of the crowd
to hear the cries of those in need
and responding
with faith
and love
Pausing 
to make a difference
by reaching out
with a healing touch.
Jesus - 
Ministering to the crowd
Ministering to individuals
Changing lives
at every turn.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Being prepared

Hebrews 11:13-15
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.
Looking back
causes us to stumble
to think of what might have been
Following God
along a path unknown
but made clear
leads toward the promise
And though we may not see
The Promised Land
we can know
the joy
the trial
the frustration
and the resilience
of journeying
with the One who goes before us
and yet is behind us
all the way.

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