Thursday, April 24, 2014

prayer diary Thursday 24 April 2014

Jesus said ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see.' 
Luke 24. 38,39

Christ's Resurrection was no spiritual thing. Death could not hold him. Body and soul together broke free of the tomb. And so we can be sure that the eternal life he promised waits for all who love him and show that love by hearing and obeying his word.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

prayer diary Wednesday 23 April 2014

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 
Luke 24.35

Each time we gather round the Lord's Table he makes himself known to us in the breaking of the bread. How blessed are we that we can share in the intimate experience of those who journeyed with him on the road to Emmaus whenever we gather to celebrate the Eucharist together.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

prayer diary Tuesday 22 April 2014

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her. 
John 20.18

We also encounter the Risen Lord daily in our lives. Like Mary we must proclaim this good news to others and be his witness to all the world.

Monday, April 21, 2014

prayer diary Monday 21 April 2014

Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 
Matthew 28.9

The joy of the disciples at the Resurrection of Jesus found its natural expression in immediate worship. So too must we be filled with this joy each day and worship our Lord who has risen from the dead and in so doing has vanquished death for us all.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

repreive: an Easter reflection

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

A remarkable story emerged out of Iran during Holy Week. Apologies if you have heard some of the details already, but even so I think they bear repeating. A young man, Balal, was due to be executed. Iran executes more people each year than any other nation except China; and of course Iran is a far smaller country. Several years earlier Balal had been involved in a stupid street brawl. He shoved another teenager called Abdollah. In retaliation, Abdollah kicked him. Balal pulled a knife and stabbed the other boy, fatally wounding him. Balal fled the scene but was later arrested.

 It took six years before the courts finished their work but in a country where the death sentence is so frequently used no one was surprised when Balal was sentenced to death. After all, it was not as if there was any doubt that he was the killer and there was no excuse for his crime. According to the law in that country Abdollah's family could have asked that his life be spared, but they did not and so a date was set for his execution by hanging. The day of his death was delayed several times, not because of any continuation of the legal process and hopes that he might be reprieved, but because the date did not suit Abdollah's family. In Iran the family of victim not only has the right to be present at the execution but to take part. Balal was to be hanged; he was to be placed upon a chair with a rope around his neck; and a member of Abdollah's family would be the person who would kick the chair out from under him and end his life. It might sound brutal to us, but in Iran it is unremarkable; it is something that happens literally every day.

Finally there were no more delays and the day he was to die came. Balal's family was there, including his weeping mother; Abdollah's family, of course, was there, among them his parents; and others were there also, officials of the state, as are present at any execution, and onlookers, for in Iran execution is a public affair. The guards shoved him towards the gallows, much as he had shoved his victim on that tragic day years before; the rope was placed around his neck; he was lifted onto the chair; and Abdollah's mother came forward. Balal watched, waiting for her to knock the chair out from under him, to leave him to hang there choking, slowly dying.

But that wasn't what happened. Instead, she slapped his face; and then the mother of the boy he had stabbed, stupidly and for no reason, publicly forgave him. Abdollah's father then came forward and removed the rope from around his neck. Balal had been spared. The two mothers embraced and wept in each others' arms. Why would they not?  One had lost a son; and the other's son had been saved. 

We can only imagine how Balal felt that morning, what it was like to be sentenced to death, to have the day of execution arrive, to be taken to the place where the sentence of death would be carried out, to be placed upon the gallows with the rope upon his neck, to see the executioner walk toward him, only to have the executioner instead of taking his life, telling him that he was forgiven, and instead of killing him, take the rope from his neck? Was he joyful? Overwhelmed? Grateful? All three? We may never know; the reason that the international media picked up the story was because of the dramatic circumstances of how he was spared from dying for the crime he was guilty of; how the grieving parents of his victim chose to be merciful in a country where such mercy in not the norm. Balal most probably will slip back into obscurity, going to prison instead of his grave, and there will be no follow up story.

But I tell this story today because I think there is a parallel to the story of Balal in all our lives. He was guilty of his crime and justly condemned to death according to the laws of his country and literally teetering on the brink of death only to be saved by those his terrible crime had wounded most. And thus it is for all of us, were it not for the empty tomb. Christ by his death has paid the price for our sins; the condemnation we would otherwise justly face has been borne by another, by God whom we offended against in the first place. Instead of death we are offered forgiveness and eternal life.

Every morning when we wake up we should feel as Balal must have felt upon the gallows as the rope was removed from around his neck. Feelings such as joy, gratitude, of being completely overwhelmed should flood us. We have been spared. We have been forgiven. Our condemnation has been set aside. We should feel it especially today, this Easter morning, because for us God has gone much farther than just sparing our lives as Abdollah's parents did for Balal; for us it is as if God has taken the rope from around his neck and placed it around his own instead. Christ has paid for our sins and by his walking free from the tomb assures us that death no longer has any power over us. Today the joy that fills us should be much greater than Balal felt that day on the gallows; for our lives have been spared for eternal life; something that can never be taken away from us as long as we continue to walk in the way of Christ. Amen

(source: Guardian/Irish Times)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

prayer diary Easter Eve, Saturday 19 April 2014 ( Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. 
John 19.42

This day your Saviour's body lies in the tomb. He lies there for you. Let your every act and thought this day reflect your awareness of this.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: The Prelude to the Crucifixion from the four evangelists

Matthew 27.1 -10 
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’

Mark 15. 2-15 
Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom.Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them;

John 19. 1-7 
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

Luke 23. 26-28 
So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.