Category Archives: Lent 2014

moving day, comfy chair and grief

My parents-in-law are moving into a retirement home today. One of the challenges for them is to chose carefully what items to take with them to the new place.  They are moving from a full-sized house, and the challenge could be overwhelming.

If I could only take one thing with me to a new home, what would I take?  perhaps I would just refuse to go, like Granny of the Beverley Hillbillies…

My Mother in law is thinking of choosing a comfy chair.  That makes sense, having a good place to sit and read, and think and remember…

This reminded me of something by Mike Mason:

Brokenness

Psalm 51:8
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Do you have a favorite chair, a place where you feel most at home and comfortable? So does joy.  Joy’s favorite chair is your sadness, your weakness, your grief.  Wherever your wounds are most tender, joy finds a soft place to settle.  A lighthearted person may rejoice, but no one has greater capacity for joy than one who is, like our Saviour, “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Joy loves our brokenness best.

in Lent, it can be helpful to connect with our hurting places and examine them with the Man of Sorrows. He is acquainted with grief.

Champagne for the Soul _ Mason Page 5

http://mikemasonbooks.com/nonfiction/

Hope – you are a mist

I woke up this morning thinking about the futility of life.

In a group of men meeting at the church, last night, out of about ten, approximately all of us were dealing with serious, major or life-changing events in our close families:

death of parent / parent-in law, terminal illness, serious cancer, mental health challenges, Alzheimer’s, alienation from family member

I cycled through Mountain View Cemetery (in the City of Vancouver,) this week and remembered how quickly even stone monuments crumble.  (These pictures were taken a few years ago) A turn through the cemetery is a good memento mori. When I am gone, how much will the earth remember me?

This week, I feel that James has much to tell me about life:

James 4:13-17 (ESV)

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Where is the hope in “you are a mist”? I was thinking – what remains once the mist has vanished? We get foggy days, here on the coast.  The mist obscures everything so that you could easily lose your way, and hardly find your hand in front of your face.  When the mist burns off with the warmth of the sun, you can see your path, the mountains the sky, the sun.

What we see of life seems so very real, and it is, but let us never forget that this life is not the final reality.  The mist clears someday. Then we will see God face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (ESV)

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Sept_22_2007 Cemetary Death BoundDSC00212Sept_22_2007 Cemetary BrokenDSC00189

when faith needs to go beyond me getting my own way

Faith in Jesus is easiest when I can see that miracles are happening; Lazarus being raised, walking on water, lepers being cleansed – when I see God’s hand moving and rescuing people near me.  Then it is easy to say “it is well with my soul.”

When Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem, where people want him dead, when he chooses the path of suffering, when a friend’s cancer returns with vengeance, when I remember that young people die and mental illness abounds – that is when I need deep strong faith that goes immeasurably beyond me getting my own way.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul/

What part of “and he will be raised on the third day” do I not understand?

If only Jesus would speak clearly and directly to me, then I would understand. Oh really?

Matthew 20: 17-19 ESV

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Jesus clearly stated his agenda, and still they didn’t comprehend.

What part of “and he will be raised on the third day.” did I miss?

I hear what I am ready and able to hear. Later on I might be able to hear and remember: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6

“No returns” policy / Vendor remorse

Judas, when he saw that Jesus was condemned – changed his mind – repented of betraying innocent blood, but was unable to undo the evil in which he had participated.

Was his sin that he had “betrayed innocent blood” or more like our sin: rejecting the way of the Messiah – thinking ourselves wiser than God and taking things into our hands?

Judas responds with despair.

God grant us hope, and true repentence.

 

Matthew 27:3-4 (ESV)

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

after that night

Matthew 27:1-2

That night, others may have slept, rested and been refreshed,

but when morning came, after:

  • betrayal
  • peter’s denial by the fire in Caiaphas’s courtyard
  • a sleepless night
  • a brutal night
  • a silent night for the defense
  • a rooster crowing
  • bitter weeping
  • spitting
  • punching
  • slapping

– after that night;

When morning came,
all the chief priests and elders took counsel against Jesus to put him to death – and bound him and led him away.

The good Lent

So, having a good Lent? Well, not so much, really

Is it ok to do poorly at lent?

What happens if we get to the end of Lent, having successfully mortified the flesh and worthily lamented our sins? Is it ok to fail at Lent. Can I fail at Lent without falling?

One danger that I see is the possibility of completing a successful Lenten observance and feeling that I have earned a prize, – that I am in some way ‘worthy’. Self righteousness is a huge danger. The fact that I survived for x number of days – well that is grace. Any attempt or leaning towards godliness is the work of Holy Spirit (sure, I am involved in obedience, and even in some weird way, in grace). If I struggle with sin, or are troubled with my weaknesses, grace again.

So, having a good lent? Aware of your imperfections, failings? Longing to do better, or longing to long to do better?

Are you a person who needs a saviour, The Saviour?

Good Lent to you! And may God have mercy on us all.

Remember Peter?

Peter-
He was “ready to go … To prison or death” with Jesus. But when things moved in a direction he hadn’t anticipated, and it looked like one of those two options was more likely than the other, he followed Jesus and his captors at a distance, anonymously – which didn’t work out very well. So frightened, he was that when faced with a servant girl, Peter was so scared that he felt he needed to lie – for fear of being hauled before the religious and civil authorities.

Fast-forward: seven weeks was it?

We have the man who had stammered out his denials in front of a handful of servants around a campfire, now in front of crowds; a preacher who doesn’t seem to care what anyone says or does to him. Bold. Fearless – or at least brave in the face of his fears.

In acts 2:36 Peter tells them: “…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” We did not see that boldness coming.

What changed Peter?:
the crucifixion?
the empty tomb?
an amazing catch of fish (who actually counted those fish?)?
facing his failure and betrayal with Jesus

Jesus told the disciples that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [them, and would be]… witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Then he was taken up, out of their sight, with angelic assurance that he would return in the same way he went into heaven. (Acts 1:8-11)

In Jerusalem, in the upper room, they stayed together praying, waiting, I suppose for what Jesus had called “the promise of my Father … power from on high.”(Luke24:49)

Even before the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter was beginning to change. We see him starting to take leadership.

And then Pentecost came.

Let us think about

  • the crucifixion
  • the empty tomb
  • the things that we know God is doing among us
  • our failure and betrayal – our need for forgiveness

Let us meet together with Jesus and with believers praying, waiting…

Christ also suffered – following in his steps

1Peter 2 ESV

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Following “in his steps”? What does this mean

  • Doing good, even though it might bring suffering
  • Being subject to those in authority over us
  • He committed no sin
  • No deceit was found in his mouth
  • He did not return reviling for reviling
  • He suffered without threatening
  • He continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

When I think on that list above, I understand how I need Jesus and the provision of his sacrifice. When I read the beginning of 1 Peter chapter 2, I understand even more: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Lord, increase my desire for your spiritual milk, as found in the Bible. I have tasted that you are good. I want to grow up.

Forgiveness

On Friday I was privileged to hear Reaksa Himm speak. His message was about forgiveness, and he is qualified, in my mind, to teach about that topic. A few years ago I read his book The Tears of My Soul: The Story of a Boy Who Survived the Cambodian Killing Fields.

In the book he details how he was left for dead, and eventually came to forgive the people who intended to murder him and those close to him.

“Father for give them” are words of Jesus.  How do I do in forgiving big and little offences?