Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Cross Made the Difference for Me

 Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By Rev Cathy

“The Cross Made the Difference for Me”
Mark 15; 33-39
            Holy Week is the week set aside by the Christian church to remember Jesus’ Passion story. It includes the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem to the time of his resurrection when the disciples see him and recognize as their risen Lord.
            Holy Week calls us to reflect on this story of love, hate, death and life and how Jesus endured all the cheering, jeering, insults and encouragement. Central to this story is Jesus the teacher, healer, preacher and Son of God who came to seek those which were lost and to also invite those to fellowship with him as he faced the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah.
            Jesus was and is that Messiah whose story was foretold by the prophets. Jesus is the one who came and was blessed in the name of the Lord. He came into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey with shouts of Hosanna. It was only a few days later that these shouts changed to crucify him. And Roman soldiers did just that- they put him on the cross to die.
            The cross was used for crucifixion during those Roman times and was the ultimate form of capital punishment. Not only did the person suffer the pain of nails in hands and feet, but they were hoisted up high over the city for all to see. They also suffered as their breathing became more difficult due to hanging and leaning forward from the surface of the cross. It was awful. And Jesus endured this—for us!
            The cross is now empty and for Christians is a symbol of hope beyond this life. It is a sign of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died and rose again for our sakes. That is, he died so that he would take on the burden of our wrongdoings. And he rose again so that we might be reconciled and favoured by God. Jesus did all of this because of love.
            The cross is a sign of peace- no longer are people crucified because it is such a tortuous way to die. Yet Jesus suffered on the cross so that we might live beyond this earthly life with him. This is also a promise which comes because of the resurrection of Jesus. We who have faith and believe in Christ’s death and resurrection are assured of the gift of eternal life. But we must believe.
Does Jesus’ dying make a difference for you? He suffered for all of us so that we might have life eternal. Does the story of Christ Jesus on the cross make a difference in your life?
Holy God as we remember Jesus on the cross we pray that you would help us to understand what this might mean for us as we strive to be and become faithful followers. Teach us again and show us how much you love us as we look to the cross for hope and peace in our lives. Hear us O God as we pray. Amen.

BLOG QUESTION: Jesus suffers an agonizing death on the cross. He is in pain and hangs waiting to be received by God. Yet He knows that this is part of the reason for his coming to earth- to live, to teach, to die and to rise again How do you respond to hearing Jesus’ story of love shared through his death on the cross? Does his crucifixion make a difference in your life ?  How?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Anointing of Jesus

“The Anointing of Jesus”
Luke 7: 36-50      John 12:1-8

Two stories similar in nature but different in location and key character yet each story tells of faith and love for Jesus.
A sinful woman anoints Jesus at the home of a Pharisee. This woman is known to have lived a sinful life and when she learned that Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume and after she cried upon his feet she poured the perfume on top of them and wiped his feet with her hair.
Mary, sister to Lazarus and Martha anoints Jesus in her Bethany home. During a dinner given in Jesus’ honour Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
Two women showed their love and gratitude to Jesus for He had changed their lives Two women who loved Jesus as the one who had come from God . He saved one from a sinful life and showed her gratitude by anointing Jesus before his death. He also loved Mary and had raised her brother Lazarus from death and so she anointed him before his death as an act of gratitude and generosity.
Two women whose lives were changed by Jesus before He died. Two women who were grateful to Jesus’ receiving act of love to them. They were changed forever.
This is what happens when we encounter/ meet/ and put our faith in Jesus. Our lives are transformed in faith and our lives are open to new possibilities because Jesus cares for us. But not everyone liked what these women did in anointing Jesus.
At the Pharisee’s house, Simon needed to learn about the degree of forgiving love one needed for true faith. Judas argued that the Mary’s ointment could have been sold and money given to the poor. But Jesus uses these opportunities to tell of love and gratitude and generosity. He also teaches those watching this outpouring of love what it means to him. He was anointed before his death in love and thanksgiving.
We who know his story of life and death and resurrection now need to honour him with faith because Jesus rose from death for our sakes in order that we may be reconciled with God. Giving and pouring out our love means growing in our faith and knowing Jesus in a new way. How do you honour and show your love to Jesus?
As we prepare for Holy Week are we ready to commit ourselves anew to the living God – Jesus Christ and the Spirit who is with us? Are we ready to hear Jesus’ passion story and experience his death on the cross with new understanding?
Come and walk this journey to the cross and the empty tomb this Holy Week and Easter.

As the unnamed woman and Mary poured out their love by anointing Jesus’ feet so we pour out our love through our prayers of thanksgiving and through our renewal of our faith. Help us to grow in faith, to seek new ideas and possibilities as we hear again Jesus’ story of love and passion. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

BLOG QUESTION: The story of Jesus’ anointing is done by two different women yet their act of  love was done to show their gratitude to Jesus to what he had already done for them. We do not know of other actions they took nor do we hear of the anointing women again in this context.
What are some ways of acting out of love and gratitude that you can perform or assess at this time regarding your love and faith in Jesus?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Love & Passion

“Jesus’ Passion”
John 16-20

Jesus knew that he was going to die a cruel death. The prophets he had studied as a boy spoke about the messiah who would come to save the faithful people and that this messiah would have to die. But when the time came for this to happen Jesus taught about love. Prior to his arrest, Jesus told his disciples about love from God and how this love is shared with others.
Jesus’ love is not like how we love ice cream or a good story but indeed a love that goes beyond romance and is not superficial either. It is deep and everlasting. As we strive to look at what it means to love, we look to Jesus for he taught us how to love.
He showed his love to his disciples the night before he died by washing their feet. He took the role of a servant and washed their feet a necessary task and a true gift of hospitality done by a household servant. He loved these people who had followed them and he prayed for them just as he prayed for all who would follow him- including us many years later. He prayed for his disciples because he knew that they and we will go against Jesus’ teachings and even might be lost in the process. But God through Christ and the Spirit never give up.
Jesus’ passion was shown as he shared his love of life with his disciples and he showed them what it means to live and trust others. But what does this mean for us?
How are we called to show our love our passion for Christ today? It starts with caring about another person. Reaching out to those who may not know what it means to be cared for and it means to share with others Christ Jesus as our messiah and as our Saviour.
As we continue in our Lenten journey let us remember why Jesus died—for us and our sake. Let us strive to know what he taught the disciples then and what this means for us today. Jesus’ passion was offered for you and Christ still calls you to follow. How do we answer this call?

PRAYER Loving Jesus we praise you and thank you for your passion and your never failing love. Help us to understand your passion as we each seek to live as you taught.  Be with us as we continue our Lenten journey with you to the cross. Amen.

BLOG QUESTION: Did Jesus have to die? What in Jesus’ passion story found in John draws you to Jesus? Why is it that Jesus’ story of acceptance and rejection so important for us to share with others?

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PLEASE NOTE—No reflection next week during March Break

Friday, 1 March 2013

Just As I Am

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”  John 6:35,37 
            A prayer of commitment in song is how one might describe the classic hymn “Just as I am.”   It is a hymn of dedication, profession of faith, and a hymn of commitment. And it is a promise one makes to live as a follower of Jesus Christ in faith and with love.
            But how does one come to Jesus and renew one’s commitment in faith?
            Jesus issued an invitation for individuals to come to him and follow him. We read in John 6 that this invitation enables those who do come to him to not go hungry or thirsty, and if we follow through and live each day as Jesus asks, we will be filled with Christ’s Spirit which will guide and support us our whole lives.
 When one does come to Christ what do we find? All that we need- life and even life more abundant than we ever sought possible. Jesus does not tell us that we will never struggle again, but does say to us that even in those moments when we have doubts, conflicts, fears and struggles we still can come to Him. And he will hear us, walk with us and enable us to work through all of these. But we must come to him, first.
Jesus’ love was shown when he stretched out his hands on the cross and died for us. We need now to realize that he died for us so that we do not have to die to be reconciled with God. Jesus is God’s gift to us so that this reconciliation can take place. All that needs to be done is for us to commit ourselves to Christ. Christ loves us and has broken down every barrier to God. We can be fully forgiven of sin if we come to Christ and know God through love. 
God calls. Jesus calls. It is up to you to come. Just as you are.
God of love and grace given in Jesus Christ, we praise you for your love has enabled us to draw closer to Jesus and with each other. You call and we answer. Help us now to know what comes next- a faithful commitment in Jesus as we seek one another and joy with each other in Jesus. Hear us we pray. Amen.

BLOG QUESTION: Have you answered Christ’s call to come? How have you responded. Can others tell you belong to Christ? These are questions to consider at this time as we continue our journey to the cross f Christ. What does this coming to Jesus mean on a daily basis?   
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