Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Power of Weakness

“The Power of Weakness”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And God has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power
is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rater boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

                When you have found yourself weak and maybe even vulnerable? Were you in hospital and receiving medical treatments, approaching surgery, or even when you realized that you had lost time and consciousness? How did this physical weakness make you feel? That is, did you feel a loss of control, out of sinc with the world, or even did you sense that your hope was fading?  Often when we experience moments of fear, or uncertainty, when one is vulnerable or uncertain about life’s challenges we realize we are weaker than others and we do not like the implications. We are weak. But in this weakness can we find some truth to the relationship God has with us through our faith? Are we able to communicate with others about what God calls us to say and do? Or are we merely giving up because the world only likes super powers and not super weaknesses?
                In the scripture reading above, Paul states that he is ‘well content’ with his weaknesses. How could Paul be well content or pleased with weaknesses? What does Paul mean when he writes, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”   Yet our world tells us that we need to believe in ourselves and all will be well. This thinking has entered the church and the church has been weakened and will remain so until and unless we become strong for the sake of God working in our lives. But we must first recognize our weaknesses including the fact that we have come to believe that weakness is bad and power is good. Shredding all our weaknesses and becoming powerful is not the answer. God desires to display His power through our weaknesses. Yet are we willing to do this? Are we willing to embrace the very weaknesses we detest in order to realize that it is through these weaknesses, that God is able to demonstrate His power through us.
                Our world tells us “Embrace your strengths and overcome your weakness.” But in scripture we are encouraged to embrace our weakness and through them, we are to experience a power we could never know otherwise. (p. 21)
                In this series of reflections on Schaffer’s book (mentioned below) we will look to experience God’s power in one’s life so that even in our weakest moments we will receive God’s power and strength to carry on.
1.       Have you experienced a lot/some/little/ no power in your life?
2.       Are you able to identify ways which make you feel weak? Have you tried to overcome them?
3.       Personal weakness= Opportunity to experience God’s power
What do you think/ feel about this statement? Is it hopeful, doubtful, confusing or suspicious?
4.       Whatever you are thinking/ feeling bring these thoughts to God and pray!

Loving and Risen Christ you have called me to serve your church and yet many times I feel so weak and tired I wonder if I do any good. Enable us to realize what gives us life on a regular basis and help us to name these things. Hear us O God as we call to you and praise you Amen.

Reflection based upon Dan Schaeffer. The power of weakness. Discovery House Publishers, 2014, p. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Jesus is Alive

“Jesus is Alive”

Matthew 28: 1-10

                Throughout the season of Lent we focused these
reflections on the scene at the cross where Jesus was crucified. Jesus died and was buried. But the most important thing to remember is that He lives again. And through his resurrection we who believe in this mystery this love sacrifice often forget why Jesus experienced this. He did this so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He died so that we might live more abundantly. He died so that we might live eternally. But do we get ‘it’?  the gift of an abundant life? Or do we merely nod and say Amen and continue on to the next exciting thought about Jesus?
Alive—this is an amazing concept—he was dead, buried entombed. Guards were posted at the sealed tomb and yet over 2000 years later we are still talking about the Son of God, Jesus. Stories about faith are broadcast on national television because Jesus death and resurrection are still the focus of many.  But do we really understand what his life is about for us now?
We recently watched again, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” on dvd even though it was broadcast on TLN. This amazing movie should never have been a box office hit as it is a tragedy, acted out in time sequence and flashback, using an ancient language and very little dialogue with subtitles. The flogging scene was overwhelming and the blood was extreme. But when the sky grew dark we knew the story had come to its climax, or did it?
Seeing the visual recreation of this story puts the human touch on Jesus but when one single tear falls to the earth do we understand the impact of God’s touch in the world. Do we understand that Jesus’ death really did make a difference in human history?
We call ourselves an Easter people but are we really willing to live for Christ? Are we really taking to heart Jesus’ teachings and do we understand God in our lives on a daily basis. Easter is marked as one day on the calendar but it is a lifetime response to the gift of life Jesus brings. Are we understanding this gift? Or are we continuing to search for it?

Loving God we praise you for raising to life Jesus Your Son, our Saviour. Through his resurrection we receive new life, new hope and the embrace of your loving Spirit. We are Easter people—sharing in hope for eternity and looking to share our love with others. Be with us we pray as we continue to learn to live and love like Jesus now and always. Amen.

Monday, 17 April 2017

He Chose the Nails--- My God what have you forsaken me?

“He Chose the Nails”

                It is Holy Week and our journey through Lent leads us to
the scene on Mount Calvary where three crosses with three men are hanging. This manner of capital punishment is called crucifixion and is one of the most painful ways to die. Two thieves are dying along with Jesus. It is upon him we focus because Jesus on the cross is a symbol of our faith.
                Jesus speaks out loud, My God what have you forsaken me? A Pharisee sneered sarcastically, “he’s calling Elijah.” But no one laughed as Jesus yelled out loud in pain. And then Jesus said, “It is finished Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He breathed in and out and then silence. All was quiet- no more mocking. Jesus is dead.
The soldiers are now cleaning up the dead. Two men who knew Jesus are given the body of Jesus. And what is left at the foot of the cross? Nails, crosses in the horizon, a crown of thorns with blood.
                These nails held your sins. One criminal would be with Jesus and the other not. It seems absurd and ironic but how did Jesus redeem us in this moment? Why would God enable Jesus’ death to occur like this?
                Jesus came to the cross with scarred hands and then offered forgiveness. After flogging, he promised acceptance. He took the path to take us to be with him in paradise/ heaven.  But what are we bringing to him? This Good Friday, what do we bring to Jesus as we look upon his death. He chose the nails for us. He did it for you. What is your response? Are you seeking his love and forgiveness and are you looking for hope beyond this life?
For many years you have heard the story of Jesus’ death but imagine if you were really at the foot of the cross. What do you see as Jesus has nails hammered into his wrists and ankles; as his blood flows on his face, hands and feet? What are you thinking about?—you or him? Jesus did this for you. Jesus died this way for you. How do you respond? Offer your prayers to God—prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of hope, prayers of joy.
For we must remember that Jesus did die. But he also told his disciples that he would rise again. Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ? How do you know he is alive? Does he live within you? Pray and ask forgiveness, receive Christ into your life or renew your faith as you live for him.

Thank you for your love Lord, and giving us your Son Jesus. He cried out wondering if you abandoned him and sometimes so do we. Help us to realize the gift of life eternal we may receive because of Jesus. Help us to know you and build our relationship with you. Reveal to us also, Easter joy, and the hope of eternal life. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Reflections based upon Max Lucado,   He Chose the Nails, ch.12- 13

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

He Chose the Nails.... Re-evaluate your life.

“He Chose the Nails”

                In our Lenten reflections for 2017 we will focus on
Jesus and the scene where He is being prepared to die on the cross.  Jesus is on the cross which has become a symbol of our faith. It seems ironic that the cross is simply designed with one beam horizontal, the other vertical but it is who was on it which has made a difference in history and continues today.
The horizontal beam reaches out like God’s love and the other reaches up as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love, the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection and where God forgave his children, with out lowering his standards.
God put our sin on his Son and punished it here. Christ never sinned. But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God. (2 Cor 5:21)
Between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on his cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus. Jesus is between you and God, but you are safe—in the shadow of the cross. Why? Because God loved the world-and all are welcome to receive the forgiveness of sins shown through Jesus’ death on the cross. (ch.12)
                After Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate agreed and with Nicodemus’ help, Joseph took the body away. Joseph had a tomb, Nicodemus had brought the spices and linens and together they gave Jesus a proper burial. The linens were a tangible reminder that Jesus was dead and was wrapped in cloth and sealed behind a rock.
But after this occurred John lingered with the body and then went with the disciples. All day Saturday he hung out not knowing what to do. His friend was dead.  He was still around when Mary Magdalene having been at the tomb went back to where they had stayed. Jesus body is missing. Peter and John ran to the tomb. What did he see? Strips of linen cloth that had been around his head. It was folded up and laid in a different place from the strips of linen. John saw and believed. (John 20:8) What had he seen that caused him to believe?  Why had he hung around
We often think of the disciples as being in hiding after Jesus’ death and burial. They were afraid because they had been known as his followers and the concern was that they might also be sentenced to death like Jesus. Yet John seemed to not know what to do. We read that John looked after Jesus’ mother through this time. She was grieving her son’s death and John was meeting her needs. Yet once Mary rested, John went and hung around with the disciples- what else could he do? In the time in between- he too needed to mourn, grieve, re- evaluate his life
This is what we are each called to do. Re-evaluate your life.  As we think about Jesus’ death on the cross, remember he chose to do this- for you for the sake of al sinners. This is so that you could live eternally with God. But do you realize how much this love cost? He was dead, buried in a tomb. For you.

Wonderful God of grace and love reveal to us again your son Jesus. Enable us to know him and love him more as we hear again the story of his Passion,- life, death and resurrection. Enable us to know again in our hearts what it means to be forgiven because of the cross and grave clothes of Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

Reflections based upon Max Lucado,   He Chose the Nails, ch.12- 13