Thursday, 28 March 2013

Good Friday Narrative


I was there. I wish I wasn’t, but I was there. I saw it all. What they did to my Jesus. My Jesus. The Jesus who was gentle, and humble, and so full of love. I can’t believe what they did to my Jesus. They scourged him. They whipped him, over and over, and over again. I thought they would never stop. He didn’t deserve that. Do you believe me? He didn’t deserve that. They cast lots for his clothes. They smiled and laughed and mocked him. They were told to punish him but he didn’t deserve that. They nearly killed him then but they were told to stop.

They could have saved him you know. Pilot asked who we wanted to save. 'Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?' He would let one of the prisoners free without charge. It was his chance. I wanted to say, ‘Free Jesus’. I wanted to shout out, but words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. Everyone else was shouting, ‘Free Barabbas! Free Barabbas!’ How could they want that man freed? That murderer. Jesus deserved to be set free.’  Pilot asked again, what did they want him to do with Jesus.  ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ I can’t believe they did that to my Jesus.

The guards were so cruel they mocked him, and spat on him. They laughed at him. My Jesus didn’t deserve that. They placed a crown of thorns on his head and called him King of the Jews. They mocked him. He didn’t deserve that.

They made him carry his own cross. He was so weak he couldn’t carry it all the way on his own. He kept falling over. It was so hard to watch. I felt so helpless. They got someone to help him. Insisted on it. I was thankful for that help. Jesus was so weak.

When we got there to that awful place. The place of the skull they called Golgotha. They took a nail and drove it though his right hand into the wood. Then they took his left hand and drove a nail right through into the wooden cross behind. Then they hammered the nail through his foot and the other. I can’t get the sound out of my head. I can still hear it now that thud, thud, thud sound. The cries of pain will hound me for the rest of my life. They raised him up on the cross and we watched. I can’t believe they did that to my Jesus. To the right and to the left of him were two others. They deserved to die. They had done wrong. But my Jesus he didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve it. 

I watched. I didn’t want to, but I watched. I needed to be there. I didn’t want to be but I needed to be there. Why had God forsaken him? Why had God forsaken us? What was this about? Why Lord? Why? 

I will never forget that look in his eyes as he called out to his Father and said, ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lema sabachthani. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ He was all alone on that cross. There was nothing we could do. There was nothing I could do but weep. I can’t believe they did this to my Jesus! 

He cried out, ‘Into your hands I commit my Spirit’. And then he went. Died on that cross. We watched, I didn’t want to but I had to. 

Why did he let them do this to him? 

He let them do it so that we might have a personal relationship with God. He did it so that our sins might be forgiven. He died because he loves us, you and me. Friends if you don’t know Jesus you need to find out more. If you do know him as your Lord and Saviour then rejoice. It’s Friday now, but Sunday is coming!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Drowning in the storm

There's a legend of a man who lives beneath the sea. He is a fisher of men, a last hope for those who are left behind.

The Guardian (2006) staring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher tells the story of a veteran coastguard. It starts with the above thought provoking quote of a mystical figure who helps those who are drowning to reach the surface.

We don't need water to drown. Life can drown us, or so it seems. Sometimes the waves are big and fierce crashing down around us leaving us gasping for breath. Sometimes the storm seems relentless. We can only tread water at best. We pray for help. We pray some more. Nothing seems to change or even give. The storm continues. Life continues but not perhaps as we would like or want it.

But Jesus is still there amongst the waves and in the storm and his love for us never changes.

God is our refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
And the mountains fall into the heart of the sea
Though its waters roar and foam
And the mountains quake with their surging.

He says, 'be still and know that I am God'...
The Lord Almighty is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.

(Psalm 46:1-3, 10a, 11 NIV)

Remember the account of Jesus sleeping in the bottom of the boat (Mat 8:23-27) whilst the disciples worried about the storm. Then Jesus calmed the storm and everything was still once more.

In the midst of the storm Jesus says to us... 'Be still and know that I am God.'

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Eyes to see what is beautiful

I have a few people with pastoral needs on my heart this week. As I wrote this I was thinking not only of my need to stop for a moment but also of a young man who went into hospital on Monday for an eye operation - for new eyes!

Lord, open my eyes to see what is beautiful.
To cherish the moment of every new day.
Lord, open my ears to hear as for the first time
The dawn chorus of birds and quietness of morning.
Lord, open my heart to love those I meet.
To offer my hand in friendship and truth.
Lord, open my mind to know what is your will.
The desire to follow you every step of the way.

Let me not be too hasty, too noisy, too busy,
To make time to embrace you.

Lord, open my mouth and help me to praise you.

Revdjo 2013

Thursday, 7 March 2013

World Book Day

It is World Book Week today so I thought I would share what I have been reading. The Nations Favourite Poems (1996: BBC Books) came about as a result of a poll to discover the nations favourite poem and coincided with National Poetry Day in 1995. I have enjoyed reminding myself of some childhood favourites such as Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol, and The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear. (Once a cat lover always a cat lover.) Last night I read Stop all the Clocks (Twelve Songs IX or 'Funeral Blues') by W.H. Auden and heard it in the voice of John Hannah who played Matthew in Four Weddings and a Funeral. However, the poem that most spoke to me last night, continuing my recent blogging thinking of stopping, resting, and looking, is this one: 

Leisure by W H Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.  

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Comic capers, superheros, and God

I loved comics as a kid and would eagerly await with anticipation for my weekly Beano and Dandy comics to arrive. It didn't take me long to grow out of reading Twinkle and Rupert Bear in favour of something with a little more action and, pardon the pun, some comic relief. I must admit to getting fed up of Desperate Dan and his cow pies and replacing him with Bananaman and the aptly named Nutty comic. Maybe I was enticed by the free packet of Space Dust? The first issue came out 16th February 1980 but it seems like only yesterday, such was my excitement of my new comic. I still have some back-copies somewhere. Should I have admitted that? I should perhaps point out, Space Dust was popping candy that crackled and made your tongue tingle. I loved my comics and think I was in love with Denis the Menace. I also loved Saturday morning TV. The caped crusaders, alias Batman and Robin, battling numerous villains: the Penguin, the Riddler, the Joker, and my personal favourite Catwoman. Saturday viewing however, was not complete without Zorro. OK maybe he wasn't a Superhero, although he did wear a cape, but he was my hero. You just can't beat a good sword fight!

When not reading comics, or watching children's TV, I would be roaming the streets and fields where we lived. On rainy days I would draw cartoon characters or read. I inherited some children's encyclopedia from my older brother. The set was bookended by an illustrated Bible and a book of paintings. I loved both. There was also an atlas. Atlas may have had the world on his shoulders and I may have lugged said book around on my shoulders during my secondary school years but alas my geographical knowledge is almost non-existent. I just wasn't interested. We are all inspired by different things. What grabs one persons interest bores the next. We are all different and it would be a boring world if we weren't. I was out walking the other day, OK maybe more of a gentle stroll, and came across a certain Superhero. My husband completely missed him, but then he dislikes anything science fiction. How can you miss Spider-Man? Its not everyday you come face to face with a Superhero!

There is so much around us that we miss in our hurry to get things done. Perhaps we think we are a Superhero and can cope? Wearing your pants over your tights is never a good look, especially in public. Thinking we are Superman or Wonderwoman is not healthy. Even God took a rest on the seventh day and yet we so often ignore our own needs for a Sabbath (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; Lev 19:30, 23:3; Deut 5:12; Jer 17: 24). Thankfully God never takes a holiday but us mere mortals certainly need one. I know I do. Still we continue racing around like the Bionic Man or woman. If we are not careful we miss the things that God wants to show us. It might be Spider-Man stuck up a tree reminding us we are not a Superhero. It might be the catkins that look so delicate and beautiful glistening in the sun as a reminder of spring and a new season in our life. It might be the ripples of the water reminding us that our actions effect other people and the world around us. Or perhaps that Gods love reaches out to all.

Stop rushing around and relax. Take a stroll. Go feed the ducks. Remember there is bread for all.

'I am the bread of life,' Jesus told them. 'Those who come to me will never go hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty.' John 6:35 GNB