When we returned on Wednesday evening from a quick trip to France there were messages waiting from Karen asking for the text for these thoughts. Oh dear! Failed again. The trip had been to take our youngest grandson to visit the Somme battlefield and in particular where his great grandfather had gone into action on the first day of the battle, 1st July 1916.
It was a good trip in which we also saw the Lutyens memorial at Thiepval, the moving Newfoundland memorial and the underground museum in Albert. Thinking about what we had seen and read and what I had not yet written for this Palm Sunday, I was struck by two thoughts; first that the experience of many of those involved in the Somme had a parallel in Jesus experience. They would have been cheered as they marched off for France by a crowd that had no idea of what horrors lay in front of them, just as the crowds that greeted Jesus in Jerusalem on that first ‘palm’ Sunday, had no idea of what lay in front of him less than a week later.
Secondly, the words we read there on tombstones and memorials were Jesus words said at the Last Supper, ‘Greater love has no-one but this, that he lay down his life for his friends’. The sense one had of suffering and sacrifice was everywhere but for all the horror of war and that battle in particular, it was Jesus that made ‘the supreme sacrifice’ when he died as ‘the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (1 John 2 2).
So let us this Easter through the way we speak and live and are, be those who are blessed, because we come in the name of the Lord, risen, ascended and glorified.
It is so exciting to be looking forward to Easter…
In the past week we have led services in the church for both Busbridge Infant and Busbridge CE Juniors.
At the Junior School services we looked at the life of Jesus and how it all pointed towards the cross and resurrection. We looked at how Jesus would have had hands which were roughened by years of carpentry work.
This is the Jesus who knew what it was like to nick his hand with a tool or stub his toe on an anvil. Then we looked at how the cross and resurrection offer power and victory over death. Death will come but it has lost its eternal sting for those who whisper the name of Jesus.
At the end of the service a child approached me with a question; “if Jesus came back to life, how did he die the second time?”. There we were, surrounded by others, talking about eternal hope and possibilities, living a life beyond human constraints and that Jesus did not have to die a second time.
Whatever you are doing as we approach Easter, remember that we are people filled with hope. Here is a sample of some of the hope filled events coming up. Top of my list? The hot cross bun walk. Christian enjoyment and a message of hope at its best!
A sample of what’s on…
Road to Easter @ Hambledon / Holy Week Meditations @ Busbridge / Good Friday Meditation @ Hambledon / Hot Cross Bun Family Adventure / Easter Garden Service and much, much more!
Mothering Sunday began as a day when people went to the main church in their area, their ‘mother church’. Mother Church was celebrated centuries before the first Mother’s Day card was printed. How far does our church function as a mother to you? What might we expect from a mothering church?
We hope that church is the place where people are birthed into faith and where they are nourished in their faith, first with milk (easy to digest), and then with stronger stuff.
And, as at the dinner table at home, the nourishment we get from church could be sweet tasting, or it could be the theological equivalent of spinach – good for you, but not necessarily palatable.
Do we expect church to teach us how to live as Christians, guiding us when perplexed, chiding us when we’ve got it wrong? How would you respond if a church member took you aside and pointed out that your conduct was not becoming of a Christian (gulp)?
Physical parents work towards their children’s independence, aiming to give them wings as well as roots. In the same way, church needs to help us to stand on our own two feet as Christians, mature, firm, not easily knocked about.
How can all this be done? As in our natural families, it will only work when there is a foundation of love. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and teaching us to love one another!
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.
The story of Blind Bartimaeus is the final part of a section of Mark’s gospel where we keep on seeing the disciples ‘not getting it’. The section begins with another story about a blind man (Mark 8:22), and the passages between these two ‘bookends’, just emphasise how blind they seem to be to whom Jesus was and what he required of them.
Three times Jesus tells the disciples about his forthcoming death and resurrection. They didn’t get what the Transfiguration was about, while Jesus’ comments on the importance of coming to him as little children and the issues of where their hearts lay, all made for an uncomfortable time for the disciples.
Do we get it 2000 years later? Do we not need to ask Jesus to open our eyes to whom he is now as well as to what he has done for us and can do for us? As we take up the Lent Challenge, respond to the challenging sermons we’ve had on these passages and as we prepare to celebrate Easter, we have the opportunity to reassess our walk with Jesus.
So let us like Blind Bartimaeus ask Jesus to open our eyes for what he wants to give to us.
My first Church was founded by John Bunyan. John was a tinker who travelled from his home in Elstow to the local farms and villages to repair their kettles, pots and pans. This was an important job in those days as pots and pans were not readily available and even if they were, most people could not afford them, so when they developed loose handles or leaks they naturally got the local tinker to repair them.
John was also a highly skilled man. At one of the Baptist Churches in Bedford there is a small museum which contains, amongst other things, a violin made out of tin plate and soldered together. The initials JB are on the back and it is thought to be his work. I have heard it played but it did not sound much like a Stradivarius to me.
As John made his way from farm to village he used to carry his tools with him. You can imagine him with a canvas bag and looped handles. He would put a hammer through the handles and carry it on his shoulder. In the bag were all his tools including a small, but heavy, anvil. John was a strong man but I am sure that you can imagine the weight of his tools became a burden and no doubt he was happy to put it down when he returned home at night. Perhaps that is why he started his book Pilgrim’s Progress with Pilgrim approaching the cross and laying his burden down at the foot of the cross freeing himself up to make his life long pilgrimage.
Lent is a time when we have the opportunity to think about our lives and some of the clutter which we accumulate. Perhaps it is also a time when we should think about leaving some of these things at the foot of the cross too?