"Consider this ...." by Canon Denise

 

Canon Denise Acheson

Years ago I came across a poem which basically said – the more you learn makes you realise how little you know! Becoming a Christian is the first step of an eternal learning journey.

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way one learns new things about oneself, about God and about others. We may outgrow some of the things we learned in the past as we grow closer to God through faith in Christ.

Faith is not static – and there are many things which we are called to think upon as we journey. 1 John 4 v1 says to test the spirits in order to recognise the Spirit of God.

So as we journey together let’s make time and space to consider this …….

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The Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm Sunday)

Collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
who, in your tender love towards the human race,
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
Grant that we may follow the example
of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Mark 11: 1-11 or John 12: 12-16
The Psalm - Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

OR

The First Reading - Isaiah 50: 4-9a
The Psalm - Psalm 31: 9-16
The Second Reading - Philippians 2: 5-11
The Gospel Reading - Mark 14: 1 - 15: 47
or Mark 15: 1-39, [40-47]
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation.
Give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.
Palm Sunday
John 12 12-16

In our culture today there is a desire and a passion to be known and to be famous.
Very often it is hard to define what the celebrity's contribution to the greater good is
but the media and society go after the person and while holding them up as examples of success, look for ways to topple them down from the lofty heights to which they have risen.
How the mighty are fallen- ha, ha!
Human nature never changes. We like to think it does but it doesn't.

2000 years ago a young, charismatic, radical man appeared on the Jerusalem scene. He had
all the qualities needed for getting pass the interviewers on to today's reality shows.
And the people loved him!
They came out to meet him they cheered and they waved
The crowds were exuberant, excited and they threw cloaks and branches long the way as he
makes his way through the procession.
Not on an open top bus and waving crazily at the crowds but seated on a donkey's colt.

If you hadn't heard or known about Jesus you would have been caught up in the moment
Who is this guy?

Elvis Presley was called the King but his was only a pretend title and his kingdom was Gracelands.
All a bit showy, isn't it?
But Elvis wasn't the first to be called the King by the adoring masses.

This young man Jesus , whom the crowd is cheering ,can hear the words of adulation ,
"Hooray , here he is coming in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!"
And they love him!!!!!!
But do they realize what it would be like to live under his kingship?
Could they submit to his kingship?

Away back in the OT the people of Israel felt they were missing out big time
They had judges and prophets to lead them but the other nations had kings.
So they gathered together and demanded that they too have a king.
"Give us a king to lead us." they say to Samuel.
Samuel says to them " Hey guys hold on a minute!!!! Do you really know what you are asking for?
The Lord God is your king who rules over you with love. Do you really want to replace him?"
"Yes!" they answer.
But Samuel persists, "Do you really know what you will be letting yourselves in for ?"
Samuel spells it out to them in no uncertain terms exactly what having a king will mean.
Submitting to his demands will mean he will take sons to be in his army ,daughters to be cooks.
He will take their land and give them to his workers
and a tenth of all that they own. And all the people will become his slaves!!!!!!
He will own them! Body and soul!
But when the people realize the price that has to be paid to pay, warns Samuel, they will ask God to get them out of the mess but God will say
"You freely chose to serve."
"Do you still want a King?" "Yes! Yes!", they reply
God said , "Give them what they ask for."
And as we go on through the OT we read of how eventually the kingship of Israel disintegrated through power struggles, corruption and evil and the man-made dynasty did not last.

These people who were shouting for Jesus would have been familiar with the concept of kingship.
They were right in their estimation of Jesus as king and yet they were wrong! Jesus did come to bring in a kingdom but not one based on man -made principles governed by power, corruption, wealth and status. His kingdom is based on the law and rule of God- forgiveness, redemption, renewal and love. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem not flaunting his power but demonstrating his humility,
riding on a donkey.
"Hail Jesus King of Israel", they chose to cry!!
"Jesus who comes in the Name of the Lord."

For the people of Israel Kingship is intimately connected with ownership.
Subjects belong to a king and a King had complete control over their lives.
As a nation we have a Monarch King or Queen.
What if Queen Elizabeth came knocking on your door to morrow and said , "I own you!
You are accountable to me and everything you possess and all that you are as a person belongs to me!" After the initial shock, what would you say? What would your response be?

Jesus, as God's representative, opened up the kingdom to all and all are invited to become citizens of this kingdom.
As King over His subjects Jesus' loving ownership entitles him to ask that all areas of our life be handed over to him. As king he has the right to ask this.

Different people have said to me, " I don't want to go along to church just to be patted on the head,
to hear platitudes, to go away unmoved. I want to be challenged, stretched, impassioned, fired up!"
GREAT!!!

Jesus challenges us in a way no one else can!
Jesus' radical call to his fellow men cost him his life because His call to sacrificial love in God's name highlighted the self centred plans and ambitions of those who opposed him
Through His Spirit His radical call is still ringing out.
He challenges me to become a worker in His kingdom and He challenges you to become a worker in His kingdom.

Sometimes we struggle with our YES to Jesus' kingship of our lives because he asks so much of us.
He knocks on the door of our comfortable , or uncomfortable lives, and when we start to listen to that knock He won't leave us alone to get on with whatever we are getting on with.

He invites himself in and sits down and asks us directly for ownership of our lives. Sometimes we cannot meet His eyes. He insists in being stuck in all areas of our lives, in
our work,
our unemployment,
our business practices
our ethics
our time management
our personal ambitions
our Politics
our Finances
our poverty,
our Conflicts.
In Public and in the
Privacy of our homes!
Wherever we are, Jesus wants to be there.

Will we let him?
Will we let Him in?
Can we let him be King of our lives?

Prayer: We praise Lord Jesus, that whether, like the crowds who waved their palm branches, we are passing through times of peace and rejoicing or whether it feels as if we are standing at the foot of a cross, you give us your assurance that your grace is sufficient no matter what the cost.
We praise you for the victory of your love that triumphed over sin and death. We praise you that now and always you are the living Lord.. We praise you today and will do so for all eternity. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Collect
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
Grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross,
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Jeremiah 31: 31-34
The Psalm - Psalm 51: 1-13 or Psalm 119: 9-16
The Second Reading - Hebrews 5: 5-10
The Gospel Reading - John 12: 20-33
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
God of hope,
in this eucharist we have tasted
the promise of your heavenly banquet
and the richness of eternal life.
May we who bear witness to the death of your Son,
also proclaim the glory of his resurrection,
for he is Lord for ever and ever.

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The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Collect for Mothering Sunday
God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
Strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

1 Samuel 1: 20-28
Psalm 34: 11-20
2 Corinthians 1: 3-7
Luke 2: 33-35 or John 19: 25-27
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer - Loving God,
as a mother feeds her children at the breast,
you feed us in this sacrament with spiritual food and drink.
Help us who have tasted your goodness
to grow in grace within the household of faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The two gospel passages encapsulate in a few verses the birth and death of Jesus. And Mary, his mother is central to both passages.

Jesus' incarnation must have thrown Mary's young life into confusion. Barely a teenager and being betrothed to be married, as was the custom in her time, wasn't the shock. It was the fact that she discovers she is with child!!!!! Mary's pregnancy was unplanned by her - she is a young girl with hopes and dreams - and now circumstances have changed.

Joseph, her betrothed, is also experiencing his own crisis about the situation. He probably asks himself the question, 'Does I still want to be associated with this girl Mary?' He did have second thoughts, but is assured by God that this was all meant to happen - and he stays with Mary. It was not an easy situation for any of them.

Jesus is born and Mary and Joseph bring him to the temple, as was customary, for circumcision on the eighth day. You can imagine this little scrap of humanity 8 days hold, being presented to Simeon the priest, who has been waiting and waiting and waiting patiently upon God. God had promised Simeon that he would not die before he had seen God's own Anointed One- the Messiah. On seeing the baby Jesus Simeon knows his waiting is over. Mary and Joseph stand in amazement as they listen to Simeon speaking about their son- their son Jesus. But what he was saying was not easy to listen to. It wasn't all nice, kind, sentimental, soft baby talk . There was a hardness and a foreboding air surrounding the words, "This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Mary, at this early stage of her motherhood, could not have had an idea of where this baby son's life was heading, but could not fail to be alarmed at such words. Or maybe not? In the excitement, tiredness and youth of being a new mother she possibly didn't think too much about those prophetic words just then. But Mary would have 30 years to watch her son grow and develop into a man who was on a mission and was called by God to be faithful to death. Some of the gospel stories reveal that Mary and the rest of Jesus' family did not always understand the whys and wherefore of what Jesus was doing. But, Mary knew Jesus had a source of authority and a power to change things. As the years went by she could not have failed to recognise that his power and authority came from God. As time went by Mary began to understand that whatever Jesus asked to be done she agreed with his decision.

The gospels maintain Jesus' humanity and it is because of his humanity he can identify with us. How was it for Jesus, to know that his actions were causing distress to his mother and family - and yet he had to be obedient to his heavenly Father. As events built up towards his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death he must have had thoughts about his mother's reaction and how she would cope with his death. Mary, as she watched him, must have felt her apprehension grow for her son's safety as events came to a head.

But what must have sustained Mary throughout it all was the assurance that this child was destined from his birth to be God's servant. Even before Jesus was born Mary and Joseph had the assurance that all that was to happen was within God's will. Knowing something significant in advance doesn't make it any easier to live with when it happens. Throughout the years Mary must have kept holding on to God's promises for Jesus. He was to save the people from their sins. And she found the strength to be there with Jesus right to the end.

She stood at the foot of the cross- watching her first born die. Words fail to describe how, as a mother, she must have felt. Yes, Jesus had thought about his mother. With his dying gaze he looked down on her and said to one of his disciples, "Here is your Mother" and to his mother, "Here is your son."

Jesus only had words of love right to the end.

How the sword must have pierced Mary's soul as she listened and watched.

Mary had to release Jesus fully to God, and even though she may not have understood it at the time, she wasn't losing Jesus' or his love. It would return.

Prayer. Loving generous God, you gave your Son to live and die for us all. You did this not because we deserve it, but because you love us. Lord, by your Holy Spirit, enable us take steps of faith, hope and love, that the name of Christ might be lifted up and people everywhere might join in the song of praise to him. Amen

Canon Denise

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The Third Sunday in Lent

Collect
Merciful Lord,
Grant your people grace to withstand the temptations
of the world, the flesh and the devil
and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Reading - Exodus 20: 1-17
The Psalm - Psalm 19
The Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25
The Gospel Reading - John 2: 13-22
Click here to view the readings via the oremus Bible Browser website

Post Communion Prayer
Lord our God,
you feed us in this life with bread from heaven,
the pledge and foreshadowing of future glory.
Grant that the working of this sacrament within us
may bear fruit in our daily lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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