Today it is Good Friday.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Today it is Good Friday.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
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Post by Amy Whiting
We can’t stay awake. We know it is important, We know we should. But we can’t. Our eyes are too heavy and no matter how hard we try...sleep sings its sweet lullaby and we hum along.
The one time in my life when I asked them for something – and they can’t deliver. Betrayed, deserted...alone.
Something has happened – I don’t know what it was. What is going on?! Judas? What?
It hits me afresh as I read this passage again the very human suffering of Jesus – Gethsemane – the place where he faced the reality of his life’s mission. At that moment he chose a rock & two sons of thunder – three people who he hoped would offer comfort, strength and presence. But his experience of betrayal began well before Judas arrived.
As Isaiah prophesied, “He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” (Is 53:3)
We see in the garden a God who knows rejection in its hardest form – rejection from those who he loved. Let’s not rush on – let’s take a moment to know that even in our darkest, loneliest, most painful moments – He actually knows and promises us the very thing He didn’t get...That He will never leave us or forsake us.
Monday, April 18, 2011
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Here Jesus connects Israel’s past with his mission. He is the one who came to fulfill God’s plans for his world. So the meal that Jesus invites his followers to partake in is a meal that celebrates an ‘exodus’ of sorts (The passover meal celebrates God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt).This ‘exodus’ is a delivery from the slavery of sin and death that in Jesus’ death and resurrection is made possible. The meal that Jesus invites his disciples to take helps explain his death. Jesus breaks the bread saying “This is my body given for you”. Jesus takes the cup saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” So this meal that Jesus had with his disciples was all about God’s gift of grace to a broken world.
We celebrate this meal in church when we take communion. When we do this we are reminded that following Jesus is not about mental assent to an abstract theory or belief. Rather we follow Jesus together as a community and this is intimately entwined in everything we do: as we do such a down to earth real thing as eating together we are reminded that we participate in God's grace.
Reflect on this insightful poem by Kim Fabricius:
Sunday, April 17, 2011
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This section of Psalm 31 is both a desperate cry for help and a brave statement of faith.
The first element in this passage to take note of is the author’s (David) obvious distress: “I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness” (vs. 10). This Psalm is not talking about a bad day at the office or an everyday annoyance; this is about real adversity and grief, losing a family member, a business a job etc, something many people in our city can now relate to. It’s an expression to God of the absolute hopelessness and fear David feels in his current situation.
This is perhaps the most important point, David is bringing before God the honest reality of his situation and asking for help. He says “have mercy on me Lord for I am in distress” (vs. 9).
As others around us go through the terrible consequences of this earthquake and we ourselves live with the after effects in our city and our life, the best hope of healing we have is bringing our hurt and reality before God. Pray for those who are in desperate need of a break in their situation, bring your own situation before God and ask for help.
As David enters the second half of the psalm and the end of this passage he beings praising God and declaring his trust in the Lord: “But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ”You are my God!” (vs 14). It is an ancient testament of faith; David knows that his situation is always redeemable through the Lord.
What we can take from this passage for our own lives is that no matter our circumstances or the circumstances of those around us, we can take them before the Lord and he can bring comfort and healing. Sometimes all you can do is be honest and ask for help.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
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God saves us unexpectedly, and in doing so he shows us that his kingdom is one characterized by the way of the cross, not the way of human strength or wisdom.
Friday, April 15, 2011
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Thursday, April 14, 2011
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I have watched my kids play many seasons of sport, there’s the start of the competition, then the final game that seems to always come around to soon. Prize giving, where cups and awards are given for outstanding play, is the final act of the season.
Life is full of these scenarios; they seem to echo a greater reality. Things start and finish all around us. A runner crosses the line, a car, a bike, a yacht. A day begins and ends, a child is born, a life support system is switched off and a man breaths his last breath and dies.
Jesus, in response to questions raised by his disciples concerning the end of the age and the sign of his coming, shares some intriguing parables.
Sheep and goats, similar but not the same, a bit like tares [weeds that look like wheat] and wheat, hard to tell the difference between them, until both reach maturity. The full head of wheat humbly bows down when ready to harvest while the weed sticks proudly up.
The difference between the sheep and the goats is in the fact of what they did and did not do. I suspect that behind the acts of kindness, unselfish care and generosity, we have people who by their very nature are becoming more and more like the one they know, love and trust. In the end it’s not what you possess that counts for anything but what possesses you.
Lent.... Becoming by grace what God is by nature.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Post by Bevan Whiting
I am increasingly aware of the gravity Jesus places on community and concern for those around us. The subtly worded finale to these scriptures certainly points to this. All the subtlety of a Elton John outfit at a nuns convention.
Unfortunately, on re-reading it appears that concern for others is not the real challenge for me here.
I am concerned when I see third world images on TV, I am concerned when some kid in Mya’s class has parents that never seem to be around, I am concerned that friends have lost businesses in the recent quakes, I am particularly concerned that Don’s house is damaged and we have nowhere to watch the formula 1! We are all concerned. The real challenge lies in ‘giving food’ (vs 45).
Concern makes me feel better about my heart condition but achieves no more than a ‘sport’ label on the back of a Daihatsu Charade. To truly fulfil what Christ requires I must draw from the rich pool of resources that we have all been blessed with and feed those around me, always ready to see concern metamorphous into action. To discern the right ‘food’ to give, at the right time, to the right people.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Guest Post by Michael Wilson
I work for an organisation that supports people with intellectual disabilities to lead a life of normality. The people I support have all grown up in an institutional environment and still carry some behavioural baggage.
For example, it pays to not mention upcoming events until the day they’re happening or, in some cases, until a few hours before. To release the information any sooner can often trigger some very long work days as you’re constantly asked, “are we going to the disco now?” when it’s not for another three days. Or, “my stereo is busted, so-and-so said they’d get me a new one!”. These questions are repeated at a rate of approximately one question every 15 minutes.
I’m not even kidding.
Some of my clients have no sense of time. They can’t understand the concept of “tomorrow” or “next week” and so, understandably, get agitated when they can’t have a thing immediately. But other times I think it’s simply because of a lack of trust.
A lifetime of promises not followed through will beat that trust out of you.
So what do you do? You remind the people who make the promises that you haven’t forgotten the promises.
What lies behind the questions the disciples asked Jesus in this passage?
“When will this happen?”
“What will be the sign?”
These are nondescript questions; seemingly standard and nonthreatening.
But, what drives them is this:
“We don’t trust what you’re doing. This can’t be it.”
“We have been promised a Messiah who rescues us from our oppression and pain! It doesn’t look like you’re doing much about that right now, but don’t think we’ve forgotten!”
This Lent may we learn to trust the God who has it all under control. May we know that he “is not slow as some understand slowness” (2 Peter 3.9). May we learn to see God working in the present and trust in him for the future.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
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RSVP. It seems to be a word of the past.
In fact trying to get people to RSVP to events can be like trying to get blood out of a stone. In this Parable, Jesus tells a story of a wedding feast. This is powerful imagery used throughout Scripture. God has put on a lavish feast!
Sometimes we miss the joy of this truth that we have a party to attend! God invites us to be part of this wedding feast. We are invited to the table…
In the Parable the king sends out an invite but people ignore it: no RSVP. Gutted.
Stanley Hauerwas says:
“This is a feast of God’s abundance. Yet many seem to think that they have all they need and refuse to take the time to attend the king’s banquet. They act as if they need no king, consumed, as they are by their daily lives. Some, insulted by the persistence of the king’s invitation, even kill his slaves. Jesus, just as he had in the parable of the wicked tenants, suggests that the way the king’s slaves were treated is the way that Israel had treated God’s prophets.”
Excerpt from Stanley Hauerwas, SCM Theological Commentary on the Bible: Matthew (London: SCM, 2006), 188.
I found this reflection by Hauerwas challenging. “Many seem to think that they have all they need and refuse to take the time to attend the king’s banquet”.
God’s invites us to a party, to a wedding feast. Will we RSVP? Or are we too busy?
And when we do so, we must remember to wear the right clothes. What does this mean? Once we accept the invite to this party, God will seek to transform us. We can’t carry on wearing our ratty clothes of selfishness, pride, immorality, envy, greed etc. God seeks to replace these by the power of his spirit with the clothes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.
As the Church this Lent, we fast and practice self-denial. But as we get to Easter we remember the lavish feast that God has put on for us. That is why on Easter Sunday we are sharing a meal together. We celebrate and party because of what God has done in Jesus’ death and resurrection!
I think we as the Church ought to learn how to party! After all our God is a God who gives us reason to celebrate.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
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Post by Amy Whiting
“R. E. S. P. E. C. T., find out what it means to me.”
I dare you to go back and read this whole chapter again with the filter: how Jesus found the religious people operating – the people who were meant to be representing God to the world around them. You see a tale of people who abuse their power to put up barriers, alienate and profit themselves.
In this final story Jesus reminds them (the chief priests and Pharisees– see vs 45 – they knew it was aimed at them) but also us of the serious nature of our life calling – to be ones who work in his field. We work in it...but it is not ours...it is His field, His resources, His profit, His glory.
The haunting line – “Surely they will respect my son”
Respect (transitive verb) [respects, respecting, respected]
1. Esteem somebody or something to feel or show admiration and deference towards somebody or something
2. Not go against or violate something to pay due attention to and refrain from violating something
3. Be considerate towards somebody or something to show consideration or thoughtfulness in relation to somebody or something
“Surely they will respect my Son.”
God resources and entrusts us with His field – with showing others what it means to love God in the way we live - we are His representation in the world and we will be held accountable for it. Are we living like that?
"This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life.”
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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Do I know you Jesus?
It seems from the blogs I've followed that there is a theme of Jesus being someone quite different from who the people of his day thought he was going to be, and possibly who we think he is.
The question I want to wrestle with in this blog is if we truly know Jesus.
As a kid growing up in a Christian community, I always knew that Jesus was my saviour. I had kind of heard of him being my Lord, but didn't really know what a Lord was except it being another name for him. Instead of Mr Jesus, it was Lord Jesus.
Matt 21:1-17 is about Jesus asserting his authority over Jerusalem as their King. Jesus rides into the city on a donkey, and clears the temple of the commerce going on inside it. This seems quite tame until we look into it a bit more.
In Luke's account of the triumphal entry, Jesus weeps over the city as he is approaching it and pronounces judgement on it by prophesying its destruction (which commonly held was fulfilled in AD 70 in the Roman Siege of Jerusalem) saying it was "..because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Luke 19:41-44
This was not just a "symbolic spiritual" Judgement, this was the real deal. After 5 months of Siege, Jerusalem's walls were battered down by the Roman army. Over 1million Jews were slaughtered and 95,000 captives were taken as prisoners to Caesarea. From 70AD to 1948, Israel was wiped off the map.
Jesus was talking about the temple in Matt 24:2 and said.."I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down".
How intense is that? Jesus pronounces judgement on Jerusalem and 1 million people die.
Now I am no theologian, this is what my study bible and a few bible helps say. But how radical is this when we look at who the bible teaches Jesus to be? Isn't the good news of the gospel that we have been saved from the righteous wrath of God, which was poured out on Jesus instead of us? That we are judged right before God because we receive Jesus' righteousness. And that He paid for us the penalty of death and eternal torment in hell that we all deserve.
I have been studying the attributes of God this year, and have discovered how low my view of God has been. I have realised that Jesus, as shown in Matt 21:1-17, is very much a King.
I do not want to be the angry judgement guy that completely neglects the fact that Jesus was weeping as he pronounced this judgement. He wept over the city and after pronouncing the 7 woes He says ..how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.." Matt 23:37
I do however want to ask this question: are we still wrestling to love all of Jesus?
After all he is a man of incredible diversity in his attributes and emotions.
Here are some attributes of his as an example.
· Infinite highness and infinite condescension.
· Infinite justice and infinite grace.
· Infinite glory and lowest humility.
When I ponder these qualities of my Lord Jesus, I begin to wonder how much I really know him. This lent may we come humbly before God acknowledging our lack. That we might by grace become what God is by nature.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
William Shakespeare coined a phrase in 1610 that captures something we as humans seek and are outraged when we don’t experience – “fair play”. You only have to mention the bowling of a certain ball in a certain cricket match over 25 years ago to make most Kiwis jump up and down! I’ve observed that as early as 2 my kids have a strong sense of whether something is fair or not (I have never felt so observed as when cutting the last piece of chocolate cake)
And we have invented phrases that we as adults use to express this sentiment... It’s all “fair & square”, or the judges’ ruling was “fair & impartial” that is what we are fiercely committed to. And we live by those rules...until it suits us to just bend those rules a little bit and suddenly... “all’s fair in love and war” and then when we just want our own way we adopt “life’s not fair”.
It seems that maybe we are only committed to everything being fair when it suits us. And this is the heart of this story... do we want God to treat us fairly or generously? Generously of course! But what happens when He treats us fairly and others generously? Hmmm...what’s the phrase for that?