Friday, April 6, 2012

Mark 15:1 – 41

By Amy Whiting

Good...if you look up that adjective in our dictionary it has 28 different meanings! 28 ways of describing what good is...yet on the surface none of them seem to fit the events of the day we call Good Friday. Why do we call it good?

“Friday is the day that:

He who was celebrated becomes despised

He who was innocent was punished like the guilty

He who was the Lion was slaughtered like a Lamb

A day of unexpected reversals:

Where the Pharisees thought they got away with premeditated murder

But actually it was a predestined sacrifice

They thought they were taking His life

But in fact He was surrendering it

Death was their goal,

Yet life was the outcome

How is this day good?

Because on this day God had other plans:

He made one day affect all of eternity

He turned the wounds of One into healing for many

He transformed our worst acts of hate into the greatest expression of love

How is this day good?

Because at the cross:

We can hand over our sin in exchange for righteousness

We can lay down our burdens and pick up freedom

We can come broken and yet leave restored

And though seemingly it was the end –

It was actually just the beginning

The enemy had it planned as a bad day...

And we now call it good.”*

We call it Good Friday because today we remember and celebrate afresh that we have the privilege of knowing and experiencing that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

*Text taken from the video clip “Good Friday” by Igniter Media

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mark 14:12-26

By Josh Taylor

Reading this passage is like being a fly on a wall at a very important occasion. The disciples gather to share a meal with Jesus. Why is this passover meal significant?

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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mark 14:53-65

By Josh Taylor

What struck me most about this passage were the opening lines. Jesus has been arrested and is being taken to see the high priest.

In verse 50 the "disciples cut and run" (as the Message puts it). Here in verse 54 we see that "Peter followed at a safe distance".

Remember that these are the people who are closest to Jesus. They have spent years with him, eating with him, praying with him and following him. But when it comes to the crunch, when things start to get risky they cut and run.

The challenge for me was this: how many of us "follow Jesus at a safe distance". This Lent we are reminded of the call to follow Jesus with our whole lives, to give over everything to him.

A prayer:
"Lord Jesus, help us not to be those who follow you at a safe distance. As we approach Easter we are reminded of your life given for us. May we learn to follow you even where it is risky and in doing so may we encounter your grace and love."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mark 14:32-52

A prayer by Walter Brueggemann from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth.

This day of dread and betrayal and denial

cause a pause in our busyness

Who would of thought that you would take

the eighth son of Jesse

to become the pivot of hope in our ancient memory?

Who would have thought that you would take

this uncredentialed

Galilean rabbi

to become the pivot of newness in the world?

Who would have thought that you –

God of gods and Lord of lords –

would fasten on such small, innocuous agents

whom the world scorns

to turn creation toward your newness?

As we are dazzled,

give us the freedom to resituate our lives in modest,

uncredentialed, vulnerable places.

We ask for freedom and courage to move out from our nicely

arranged patterns of security

into dangerous places of newness where we fear to go.

Cross us by the cross, that we may be Easter marked. Amen.