There we have the pros and cons.
The advantages are obvious. It feels as if this lockdown and the crisis have actually prompted a spurt of growth for our church. I am delighted at how people are pulling together. Particularly how so many of us are eager to do our bit and care for each other.
As for the disadvantages. Is it really a trial or is it a learning experience. We will surely keep on using some of these new skills that we are learning. After lockdown ends, we may decide to keep streaming some services.
But even more important is the spiritual lessons we are learning. Ok I am learning. Just before going live this morning I received a prophetic word from one of our team saying:
Prayers for you this morning as you lead God's people, may you rest in his strength.
What an amazing word "in season".
When I realised the sound was not working and quickly discovered that the updated software was misbehaving ... it would have been easy to panic. But by God's grace, I was able to keep calm and work through it. We were able to get things working in about five minutes. So we got online and celebrated Holy Communion. And God added the Icing. We then had ten people join in.
God is good!
Let's all keep on counting our blessings and placing our trust in the Lord. He is able. And in his strength, so are we.
With every blessing
Here we are. It's Maundy Thursday. This morning, we joined together in communion by the miracle of the internet and Youtube.
I was pleased to see that seven computers joined our service live. And each computer may have had more than one person watching/taking part.
Yet, it is still not the same as meeting in person and being able to greet each other, do foot-washing and receive Holy Communion in person.
The first thing I particularly noticed today is how Jesus was denied anything close to justice. This is very close to my heart and I will expand this a little in this blog.
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
The religious authorities quite simply were out to get Jesus. They started out by telling Pilot that Jesus was a terrorist; an insurgent. Yet they were unable to prove their case. They were missing one tiny little thing. The slightest shred of evidence.
Pilot realising that this deputation was going to give him trouble, tried to fob the problem off on Herod.Familiar Civil Service trick? "It's another department..."
Even Herod, who was far more dissolute that Pilot, could not find evidence to punish Jesus. So Herod sent him back.
Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”
So Jesus had been investigated by two legal authorities and the verdict was
"No case to answer".
Game over. Job's a good un! Right?
Even though Pilot fully believed Jesus innocence, he still ordered Jesus stripped and flogged before releasing him. He needed to appease the crowd. You have to keep the locals happy! Fair enough?
NOT fair enough. A Roman flogging was not for the faint hearted. It was brutal. The reason that Roman law limited the flogging to 39 lashes was because quite a few victims died if it went on further. So Pilot's attempt to appease the chief priests and pharisees was far from token. Yet, evil was abroad that night.
What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.
I will not dwell any further on Jesus passion. Today, I just want to remind us of two abuses that Jesus suffered in addition to the awful truth of His crucifixion.
Believe me this second abuse is no small matter.
So as we continue in this Coronavirus lockdown. As we chafe at not being able to flock to the beaches this bank-holiday. Let's reset our perspective.
Jesus went through all that he went through for you. And for me. Jesus love for us was so complete that He gave his own life for us. So let us give thanks this Easter season and bear our minor tribulations with a quiet dignity.
What I did not say earlier was this.
Today as we reflect on Corona Virus and the current lockdown, there is fear lurking just below the surface. This is understandable. There is real danger out there. We might pause to have compassion on those of our neighbours who do not have faith in Jesus Christ. Their world has just self-detonated.
But for the disciple of Jesus, we live in a different world. We have at least one foot in the Kingdom of God. We have the privilege of calling God "daddy". Like the child who is frightened of the dark, we know that daddy is there to comfort us.
Let me sign off by sharing a thought from Terry Waite.
Who was held hostage by ruthless Islamic militants.
Terry Waite, 1763 days as a hostage in appalling conditions.
He just told us all to stop complaining! 👏👏👏
Change your mindset he said, you're not STUCK at home,
you're SAFE at home ❤️ #TerryWaite