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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Knowing Jesus...the broken bread

A reflection for an Easter Evening service in Luke 24:13-35

The quiet mystery of the story of Emmaus invites us into the mystery of Easter.
'The disciples knew Jesus in the breaking of the bread'
In a journey shrouded in mystery all the way up the road,
when they talk doctrine to Jesus and he quietly shows them what is the mystery that God is unfolding
they fail to recognise
who and what he is.
It is not until they sit quietly at a table
tired, perhaps ready for bed
that they see through the haze
and Jesus is known to them in the breaking of the bed.
As we might give thanks (as we do tonight) for the Holy Communion we received today
so we are reminded of the mystery that Jesus comes to us in the breaking of the bread.
I came across a cryptic little remark the other day
which said
"If you doubt go to Holy Communion!"
It was a little tongue-in-cheek but it has about it
an element fo truth.
The disciples know Jesus
in the breaking of the bread.
It is the steadfast experience of Anglicans,
and I would suspect, but cannot speak for, other Christians
that as we gather to share Bread and Wine in the Eucharist
we encounter Jesus.
So the funny little comment is true.
If you doubt go to to Holy Communion.
There we hear in the Word of God
of the Jesus who gave himself to be broken
and poured out
so that others might live.
This mystery, so common place to all Christians
should not be taken for granted.
As we hear the words
"Take eat this is my body given for you"
"This is the blood of the new covenant which is shed for you"
It is Jesus speaking to our doubt.
But we should not also miss the mudaneness
that is also being spoken about
that it is as we share bread and wine
around our family tables
and commit ourselves
to human relationships
which the dinner table signifies
and conveys
that we are also attesting to the truth
that Jesus is made known to us
not just in the ritual of worship
but also in the ordinariness of human existence.
For Christians, too, there is an imperative
to see that no one goes hungry
either spiritually, or physically
so the sharing of food ---spiritual and physical---
is to go beyond our comfort zone
and reach out to the hungry.
Jesus reminds us Matthew 25:31–46 (NRSV): in the parable of the Sheep and the goats
that we are called to not only pay heed to the theory of the gospel
but also to put it into practice.
“Truly I tell you, just as you give food and drink to one of the least of these you did it to me.”
We know Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
So, the risen Jesus is encountered
So, if we doubt worship God in the Holy Communion
and lest we forget, worship God in the reality of our lives
-our families
-and those who God sets before us in need.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter 2

Readings for this week are for The Second Sunday of the Easter Season March 30, 2008 Acts 2:14a, 22-32 Psalm 16 I Peter 1:3-9 John 20:19-31
Easter is not just a one day festival
but rather a way of life
The rather good stories that tell how earlyChristians encountered
Jesus after his death
help us to assimilate our own experiences
of Jesus.
Take Peter, for example,
who stands up boldly
and reminds his listeners
"This Jesus who you crucified"...he might also
be saying...."and who I deserted at his time of need"
,,,well "This Jesus God has shown to be the Messiah,
the incarnation of God himself."

It is, a reminder of the way we take the revelation of the Godhead
for granted
and fail to see what mind-blowingly transforming stuff
we are involved in.

Thomas, too, who is a quintessential figure
in the Christian story.
Not with the disciples when Jesus appears
he does not just take at face value
the fact that they have "seen the Lord"
Why, indeed, should he?
There is perhaps a salutary reminder
that sometimes we assume that people
will take our witness
for granted.
When we tell them what our experience of the godly encounter is
we should not just assume
that is going to be the last word
in the debate.
We often mistake what is happening
we do not name it rightly
we fail to appreciate where the other person is
(all these are salutary warnings for the would-be evangelist)
but more than this we need to appreciate
that conversion
is not so much about persuasion
as about openness
to the Holy Spirit of God.
The disciples encourage Thomas to articulate
what it would take
for him to be convinced
of the truth of what God is doing in our lives.

What would it take for me to be convinced?
Perhaps more deeply convinced, or more fundamentally convinced,
can you write a short list of the doubts you have
and what God needs to do
to allay those doubts.
Thomas did....I need to see and feel the wounds...to experience the physicality
and the aliveness of Jesus.
This confrontation and naming of doubt
enabled him to respond well
when the moment came.

This is an important
statement about the integrity
of God
The God who honours our shortcomings
as well as our insights and our strengths.

The experience of resurrection
invites us to explore
both the light and dark places
where God is to be encountered
in our faith journey.

What would you name as your doubts?
What would it and does it take to be more firmly and deeply committed?
and allow that process to take place in God's good time

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Enter the tomb

Easter Day . For a selection of readings see here Isaiah 25:6-9;Acts 10:34-43;Psalm 118:1-2,14-24; 1 Cor 15:1-11; John 20:1-18; Mark 16:1-8

Easter is not about avoiding death
It is about choosing to not be defeated by it
Today, as every Easter Day, we are given the opportunity
to reaffirm our Christian commitment.
We are asked:
Do you turn to Christ? and we will gladly reply
I turn to Christ.
We are asked also three questions
about what we will do
to put this into practice
Do you repent of your sins?
We choose to admit our past failing
and today, on this day of new beginning,
Easter Day
we promise to live our life differently.

Do you reject selfish living?

When we reject selfishness
we must find ways to be kind, to be generous, to share
We cannot combat selfishness and not share.

Finally we are asked a serious question
Do you reject evil?
We might ask ourselves: but what is evil?
And it is not an easy question.
But it revolves around the way we view other people.
Each one of us is made in the image of God,
and therefore we should treat all other people
with equal dignity and respect,
but do we do that?
When we see people as commodities rather than individuals,
when we think only of people as sexual objects
when we see anyone as disposable
we are assenting to evil in the profoundest way.

When we are silent, when we should speak out,
or when we trivialise the lives of others
and say that they, their problems, their aspirations
are not worthwhile
we diminish ourselves, and each other.


This is serious stuff
But it is a choice we make
When we ask ourselves 
What is it that makes Christian experience of death
Of sin, of selfishness and of  evil 
Different from that of others
It is that we choose to enter the tomb.

We do not escape death, pain or sin.
Rather we believe that those things ]
Are not the last word
And we choose to live our life differently.

It is as we choose
As we exercise our freedom
As we decide
To follow Christ
To repent
To reject selfishness
And to renounce evil

 This is not passive
We do nto stand pn the edge of the death experience
And peer in.
Each of us who has grieved
Knows that the mystery of death
Is that it is as we get into it
That we discover
That we pass through it
And are transformed.

The little deaths, 
Sin, selfishness and evil
All have the same dynamic.
We are not to sit passively  by and do nothing
But we decide to reject them as a way of life
This is not always easy
We often get it wrong
We sometimes fail
That, in a way, doesn’t matter
It is not as we get it right that matters so much
As that we choose to live free from sin, selfishness and evil
We go into the tomb
We do not seek to avoid the death
And we discover that we are set free.

This is a key mystery of life
It is the invitation of Easter.
Choose life, not death

But choose it knowing that it is not an easy way
It requires us to struggle with sin, selfishness and evil.
But it is the only way that is worthwhile.
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reflections for the final hour

This is a series of smaller meditative reflexions for Good FridayIsaiah 53 particularly for reflection during the afternoon


Isaiah53:1 The suffering servant
1 Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering* and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces*
he was despised, and we held him of no account.


It was said of Clyde Cameron who died in the last fortnight
that he was a great "hater".
Most of us are!
We tend to reject the experience of others unless it is forced upon us.
In our tendency to 'lionise' the Lord Jesus
we forget that he was largely despised.
It was the people who we are so fond of
...the powerful, rich and influential...
who despised him.
This might give you and me cauise for some heart!

Though we need to also note that part of the problem is that we despise him too.
Because we all to readily want to identify ourselves
with the very ones who do the despising.
How little we often regard Jesus.
We hold his teaching and example of no account.
And we are slow to allow
his counter cultural message to take root and grow
in our lives

We allow ourselves to be seduced by the idea that
being Christian
following Christ
is about being respectable
or doing "the right thing"
Could there be something more to what he is doing and saying to us
than just "Be good!"?

In his suffering is revealed more about the nature of God
than rules and regulations ever permit.
This is a message that a world
crazed with appearance and prestige
does not hear, and does not want to hear.

We need to see that it is likely
that we will not find God
in the places where the world demands our attention,
but something is discovered in suffering,
in sadness and death
that is so profoundly connected with the life of God
that we will miss it
if we do not seek it
in the places that we are afraid of


Isaiah 53:4
4Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.


In what sense do we understand that Jesus has "borne our infirmities"
A good retreat conductor said some years ago to a group of us
"Don't waste your suffering!"
This is not the same thing as saying that we should create suffering
either for ourselves,
or worse still for others.
But the suffering of Christ reminds us
that not everything can and will be avoided.
This much should be evident for anyone who has lived more than a couple of decades.
At the very least when we suffer
  • from depression
  • from bereavement
  • from disappointment
  • from betrayal
  • from abuse
we can be asking ourselves
what might this draw out of me.
This is not the same thing as saying
that this is morally right or good
and that everything is OK
as long as we can get in touch with the upside.
...abuse can never have this sort of justification
it is rather saying
that we will not allow these DEATH experiences
to speak the last word.
If we do not pass through them
then we remain in death.


Isaiah 53:8
8By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
9They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb* with the rich,*
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.*
When you make his life an offering for sin,*
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light;*
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one,* my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


What looks like death is the way to life
This is not easy to live with
and we must avoid being glib.
it is cold comfort
to say to those in pain
"Everything will be all right"
Part of dealing with grief
may mean that we have to confront
the fact that things will not be OK
but rather that they will be changed
and they and we will be different

Can we on this Good Friday
allow ourselves to what God
may be saying to us
about ta new way of living?
Can we examine our dark places
and invite God to lead us into and through them?
Can we pray for faith and trust in God?
The sort of faith and trust
that is not partial
but that is complete.
Which is transforming and will transform.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy Week

In this week we encounter a whole range of fascinating people

Jesus, whose total identification with humanity brings about a change in the way weare able to live in communion with God.

Peter, Thomas, John and the other disciples who show how difficult it is to be a good disciple

Mary, who must watch with horror as her son is threatened and dies.

Joseph of Arimathea who seeks the body of Jesus to ensure that despite the indignity our respect for him as a person is not glossed over.

And there is Judas and Pilate, perhaps too much to gather them together.

What do we make of all this? Where do we place ourselves in the story?

What is God trying to draw out of us in the mystery of Good Friday and Easter? How will I change, choose, grow, decide as I encounter God this week?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Place yourself in the Passsion

This struck me in my morning reading as a strong invitation to place ourselves within the mystery of the Passion
From the Second Easter Oration of Gregory of Nazianzus ..
Ch. XXIV.
If you are a Simon of Cyrene,take up the Cross and
follow.
If you are crucified with Him as a robber,acknowledge God as a
penitent robber. If even He was numbered among the transgressors for you and
your sin, do you become law-abiding for His sake. Worship Him Who was hanged for
you, even if you yourself are hanging; make some gain even from your wickedness;
purchase salvation by your death; enter with Jesus into Paradise,
Luke xxiii. 43.
and if you be a Joseph of Arimath├Ža,
Luke xxiii. 52.
beg the Body from him that
crucified Him, make thine own that which cleanses the world.
1 John i. 7.
If you be a Nicodemus, the worshipper of God by night, bury Him with
spices.
John xix. 39.
If you be a
Mary,
or another Mary, or a Salome, or a Joan
na, weep in the early morning. Be
first to see the stone taken away,and perhaps you will see the Angels and Jesus
Himself. Say something; hear His Voice. If He say to you, Touch Me not, stand
afar off; reverence the Word, but grieve not; for He knoweth those to whom He
appeareth first. Keep the feast of the Resurrection; come to the aid of Eve who
was first to fall, of Her who first embraced the Christ, and made Him known to
the disciples.
Be a Peter or a John; hasten to
the Sepulchre, running together, running against one another, vying in the noble
race. And even if you be beaten in speed, win the victory of zeal; not Looking
into the tomb, but Going in.
And if, like a Thomas, you were left out when the disciples were assembled
to whom Christ shews Himself, when you do see Him be not faithless; and if you
do not believe, then believe those who tell you; and if you cannot believe them
either, then have confidence in the print of the nails.
If He descend into
Hell, descend with Him. Learn to know the mysteries of Christ there also, what
is the providential purpose of the twofold descent, to save all men absolutely
by His manifestation, or there too only them that believe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Palm Sunday-The journey continues

Sixth Sunday in Lent _ commonly called Palm Sunday. March 16, 2008 Readings of the Eucharist are: Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 31:9-16 Philippians 2:5-11 and the Passion according to Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54

Journeys require tenacity
they need planning
and they change us

As Holy Week begins we take something of a journey
it is undergirded by the story of Jesus last days before his death.
We have also been taking a journey through Lent,
in these weeks we have been thinking about what it means to be Christian
and how do we live faithfully in the spirit of the promises we made
or which were made for us at Baptism.

How do we continue the journey begun at our baptism
when we were asked :
Do you turn to Christ?
Do you repent of sin?
Do you reject selfishness?
Do you renounce evil?
These promises are reaffirmed on Easter Day

We have also reflected on the mystery of life and death
and hear that there is a great overshadowing promise of Jesus:
"I am the Resurrection and the Life!"
It is the promise which breathes life back into our deadness.
And which open the eyes of the blind heart.

The reading from the letter to the Phillipians addresses this journey, this transition, this growth,
in a more poetic and philisophical way

St Paul writes

Philippians 2:5-11

2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.

2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


The purpose of the journey is that we may become like Christ.
Not presuming on our Godly nature but acting out of it.
It is a journey of suffering
a journey of challenge
which will transform us that we may be like him

Such journeys require tenacity
they need planning
and they change us


Holy Week with the prophets

Some short reflections  from the prophets for Holy Week

Palm Sunday
Amos 5: 23Take away from me the noise of your songs;
   I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 
24But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream 

It is not as if God's people do not know that justice is the preferred way.

Amos 9: 14I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
   and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
   and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.  

God will restore, and restore properly. Not without pain, but through the very gift of his holy Son

Holy Monday
Obadiah 1: 2I will surely make you least among the nations;

   you shall be utterly despised. 
3Your proud heart has deceived you,
   you that live in the clefts of the rock, ">
   whose dwelling is in the heights.
You say in your heart,
   ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ 
4Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
   though your nest is set among the stars,
   from there I will bring you down,

says the Lord 

How easily we misplace our trust.

Jonah 2: 7As my life was ebbing away,
   I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
   into your holy temple. 
8Those who worship vain idols
   forsake their true loyalty. 
9But I with the voice of thanksgiving
   will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
   Deliverance belongs to the Lord!’ 

I make a mistake when I think I am the source of justice and holiness.

Holy Tuesday
Micah 1: 3For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place,
   and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 
4Then the mountains will melt under him
   and the valleys will burst open,
like wax near the fire,
   like waters poured down a steep place. 
5All this is for the transgression of Jacob
   and for the sins of the house of Israel.  

The Lord's will to deal with my sin is unremitting and determined. He will forgive me. He will have me, even if I am slow and unwilling to respond. 

Holy Wednesday
Micah 4
In days to come
   the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
   and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it, 
2   and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  

In hope, not desperation; in faith not in decline. I come to the Lord because he draws me to himself.

Maundy Thursday
Habbakuk 3
His glory covered the heavens,
   and the earth was full of his praise. 
4The brightness was like the sun;
   rays came forth from his hand,
   where his power lay hidden.  

There is no way to overlook the glory of the Lord

Good Friday
Zephaniah 2
11The Lord will be terrible against them;
   he will shrivel all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
   each in its place,
   all the coasts and islands of the nations.  

Everything that would wrongly demand our attention and our worship will be destroyed before Jesus, that we his sisters and brothers may live with the freedom and dignity that God destined us to share.

Holy Saturday-Easter Eve
Zephaniah 3
15The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,
   he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
   you shall fear disaster no more. .  

The Lord completes all that he sets out to complete



Saturday, March 08, 2008

Easter Poems 2008

These poems written by Coromandel Valley Parishioner may be used with attribution please notify the blog owner (coro35@bigpond.net.au) if you do so.
Author's details are: Sue Cook. Hawthorndene, South Australia, 2008
Sue is a gifted poet and a retired teacher of English.

Easter Poems 2008

 

The Arrest 

Words, words, words.

How much depends upon words. 

People chattering, agitating, politicizing, 

gabble, gabble – traitor – gabble, gabble –pretender. 

With swords and clubs they press in 

to arrest Jesus, the teacher. 

Judas says, “ Peace be with you teacher,” 

betrays him with a kiss. 

The high priest accuses him of false promises 

but Jesus is silent. 

“Are you the Messiah, the son of God?” 

“You will see the Son of Man sitting 

at the right hand of the Almighty.” 

Blasphemous words seal Jesus’ fate. 

More words – Peter denies knowing Jesus – 

no, no, no – and the rooster crows. 

Pilate demands more words from Jesus and gets none. 

He asks the rabble what to do with the Messiah – 

gabble, gabble – crucify him – gabble, gabble. 

Words, words, words. 

                                                 Sue Cook 2008



Crucifixion

 A black day indeed 

the day they came to Golgotha, 

the place of the skull. 

Blackness inside people’s hearts 

as they watched the crucifixion unfold. 

Soon, shrouded in darkness 

Jesus was isolated, suffocating. 

There was no light, no enlightenment, 

the blackness was impenetrable. 

Abandoned by man and God, 

“My God, my God, why did you forsake me?” 

Jesus died on the cross. 

But the women looked on from a distance, 

illuminated by his life. 

 

              Sue Cook 2008


Resurrection

 

As Sunday morning dawns 

and rosy light dissipates darkness 

the women approach Jesus’ tomb, 

mourning their inconsolable loss. 

Suddenly, they are bedazzled 

for a bright angel irradiates the tomb 

where Jesus was, but is not now, entombed. 

He is risen, elevated, raised from death, 

and the women rejoice. 

Angel or hallucination? 

Mary Magdalene plucks a white feather 

from the ground and wonders. 

But Jesus appears to the women, 

preaching peace and lack of fear, 

and meets the disciples, too, in Galilee. 

 

Out of the darkness into the light 

so also are we illuminated 

by his death and resurrection. 

 

                          Sue Cook 2008