Last week was a huge week for Jesus Christ's disciples.
Throughout the week, at Morning prayer, we looked at Jesus journey towards Calvary and crucifixion. On Maundy Thursday, we looked at the institution of Holy Communion,
On the night before he was betrayed, Jesus joined his apostles to celebrate the traditional Seder. That is the Jewish Passover Supper; part meal and part act of worship. This ceremony is a ritual meal and follows a very strict pattern.
So the disciples were amazed when Jesus deviated from the normal pattern. 1Corinthians is the earliest account of this:
1 Corinthians 11.23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. We celebrated by fully reopening our church. We are now open for live services. Yay! It was lovely to see so many of our church family in person. I am looking forward to more of us joining in, particularly on Easter Sunday. That's this Sunday.
Back to Palm Sunday. Sue Allerton preached on Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I love the fact we have three super preachers; each of whom brings a fresh perspective and new insights. I don’t know how many Palm Sunday sermons I have heard over the years. Lots! Even so, Sue offered a fresh new insight. She made several good points. But the stand-out one for me was to do with the confusion of the event. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He had one agenda. It was God’s agenda of salvation. And to do it God’s way. But there were at least four different perspectives among the observers of the event.
Thus, confusion reigned. Sue equated this to many things in our lives and in our spiritual lives. The new insight she offered was that it just did and does not not matter. It was not necessary for God to correct all or even any of the misunderstandings about Jesus entry to Jerusalem. Friends, you and I don’t need to understand all the details of how God is at work in the world and in our lives. God is God and He is working his purposes out. If we can just let go of our desire to control everything, He will be pleased to involve us in His earth shattering plans.
So that was last week. This week, we journey through Holy Week. To get the most out of it, let’s take time every day to pray. To ask God to help us walk in the footsteps of the disciples as they journeyed through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and finally to the triumph of Easter Sunday.
Please join with the staff team and I as we seek to do so? You are invited to:
God bless you friends
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
This Tuesday (tomorrow) we will rebroadcast at 10.00. Then we will be live on Thursday and again next Sunday.
This time, I invite as many of us as possible to connect directly within the Zoom system. We will also stream live to Youtube for those who cannot connect directly and for any outside our church.
The new Youtube link is:
Let's pray that the technology works better this time.
Now, on a different subject:
I attached the above photo to remind us all what the inside of our church looks like. It already seems like a very long time. Yet the worst thing that we can do is lose hope. This too will pass...
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything has a season.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
In God's good time, this pandemic will pass. Friends, let's keep trusting in the Lord.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8.28
Good afternoon. It's Monday 24th March 2020 and our country is in lockdown. All church services are cancelled; including weddings. There is only one obvious exception but I will not mention it here because I want this blog to be positive.
Our preparations for online-church are going well.
It's not all bad
One of the things Anne and I discussed today was "footprints". (My word, not hers.) Where can we see God's footprints and fingerprints in this dreadful situation?
It would be very easy to be pessimistic. To think that the Evil One is having it all his own way. But when we look closely, I hope that we can all see glimmers of Hope. Let me highlight one or two:
May God Bless us all.
Just to encourage us all to make the best of the lovely weather.... See below.
Sadly, I had to pull back from using this because:
So here is what is currently happening.
We are still getting ready to offer an act of worship on Sunday mornings at 10.00 am. This will be broadcast from the Vicarage. (The wifi in the church is not robust enough.) We hope the the readers and I will share the tasks but we are looking at how to do this remotely. More than one of us are in high risk demographics and are semi-self-isolating.
Anyway. Now I need some some input from you, our church family. Which platform should we use?
I hope that we can launch next Sunday with a delayed Mothering Sunday service. Please do drop into the church at some point and say a prayer. While you are there, please borrow one of our Worship books so that you can join in from your home.
Meanwhile - please to join us this Sunday in taking part in the Churches Together in England nationwide day of prayer. Do read about it here.
Also, the diocese is supporting us all. Please keep an eye on
the diocesan website.
And finally for now. The diocese is offering regular online acts of worship via its Youtube channel. Do try it out now.
We find ourselves in unprecedented times. For the first time in living memory, the Church of England has gone into semi-lock down. There will be no public services in CofE churches until further notice. The exception to this is: