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.

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