Friday, 14 April 2017

holy week reflection #6 – good friday

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, 'Woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.'
— John 19.25-27 (NIV)

What do you see when you contemplate Christ on the cross? Perhaps you can visualise yourself among the group of women who attend to him in his suffering. Maybe you sense what it is to be the beloved disciple.

Christians around the world will attend vigils today, praying with this image and allowing it to speak into their lives and situations.

In Christ crucified we see all the suffering of the world resting on the shoulders of God. Jesus' pain represents all who suffer in the world today, and the hope of a new world where peace and justice abound as we are drawn into a new family of love.

Those arms, stretched out, draw all of creation to himself so that we and God may be one in Jesus. His love, shown here, is always ready to embrace us.
Incarnational God,
may we know your presence in our suffering,
your call to attend to others in need,
and our place in your family,
beloved by you.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

holy week reflection #5

Jesus said, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'
— John 12.23

Which of us can imagine that victory could ever lie in prematurely giving up our life? It is hard to perceive the smallness of ourselves in the context of a bigger story. Surely our life is our story? What could possibly be achieved by walking freely into execution?
'Jesus went to his death trusting that his dear Father would bring victory out of what seemed total defeat of his mission.'
—William A. Barry, SJ

Most of us are not called to die for the greater good. Yet perhaps there are things we cling to that prevent us from properly entering into discipleship. What false comforts or security might you give up this Holy Week that would enable you to more fully experience freedom and fullness of life?
Generous God,
As we contemplate the gift of your Son,
and his example of self-emptying,
may we discover the joy of finding new life
in our willingness to give ours up
for his sake.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

holy week reflection #4

'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked.
'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered.
— John 19.15 (NIV)

The passion narrative is full of treachery: Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial. The religious leaders of the day also play a deceitful game: corruptly engineering the execution of Jesus to protect their vested interests, while at the same time paying lip-service to a Roman regime they despised. 'This is your hour,' Jesus tells them, 'when darkness reigns.' (Luke 22.53)

In what ways do we collude with the values of society or friends, and in turn compromise our most cherished values, or our faithfulness to God? Where in your life is it hardest to discern what following Jesus might call you to do?
Gracious God,
Give us discernment and integrity
to honour your love for us,
and faithfully follow the example
of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

holy week reflection #3

‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.’
— John 17.25-26 (NIV)

Jesus prays for all who follow him. This prayer is as true for us today as it was when he prayed it before his arrest (see Rom 8.34; Heb 7.25). And his prayer is that the love of God is richly and deeply present in all of us.

To know such love is transformational. Self-doubts and regrets wither in its blaze. Judgementalism and fearfulness about other people fade away. We are invited to step into the light of God's love which draws us into the best of our humanity.

We too can join in with Jesus' prayer of love:
Loving God,
draw us closer to your love this Holy Week
that, through Jesus,
we may know you more deeply,
and grow into people
transformed by you,
ready to touch the world around us
with your everlasting love.

Monday, 10 April 2017

holy week reflection #2

Jesus said, ‘I pray...for those who will believe in me through [the disciples'] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.'
— John 17.21

What, we might wonder, occurred between Jesus uttering this prayer of unity, and the squabbles of the early church, the Great Schism (between Eastern and Western churches), the Reformation, and the continuing ructions that set Christian against Christian today?

Can we read this prayer as a promise, rather than a hope expressed? That, as followers of Christ, we are united with God through him, and that such unity transcends all human endeavours to undermine it and, indeed, extends to one another across traditions and denominations.

In a week where we mourn for murdered brothers and sisters in the Coptic church in Egypt, may we be mindful that 'in Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith...' (Galatians 3.26)

Loving God,
As we recall the passion of your son this Holy Week,
we stand together with those
who have been martyred for their faith in him.
May your church be an example of oneness and unity
that witnesses to a new way of living harmoniously,
as one family under you.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

holy week reflection #1

Jesus replied, "You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
— John 13.7 (NIV)

We are so keen to make sense of our circumstances and existence that being left with uncertainty or confusion is avoided where possible.

In faith we learn to live with mystery. The human ego reacts against this, always wanting to structure a narrative, ascertain the facts, create a sense of control.

Jesus calls us to hand over our struggling and striving, and invites us to rest in his peace. The narrative will come. We will look back and notice patterns, stepping stones, that enable us to make sense of that which, when in the midst it, seemed unfathomable.

This becomes possible for us when we trust not only that God's loving presence is always available to us, but that Jesus has gone ahead and is already waiting for us in whatever unfathomable or surprising circumstances await us.

give us strength to trust in you
and discernment to look back on our lives
and see where you have been at work in us.