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..is really a season within a season; an intense final week of the Lenten fast in which the final days of Jesus life and ministry are played out in the reality of the present moment.
Maundy Thursday —
A meal in an upper room where a friend turns traitor, a garden of hard-fought prayer and then arrest, to a kangaroo court, and a brazier a cock crow and a denial. Once a year, we peer into the abyss.
As we sit in our various modes of isolation, I'm thinking about the paradox of Jesus' isolation. Among friends but acutely alone. Whether it's their misunderstandings at the supper table, their lack of attentiveness in the Garden, the scattering as soldiers arrive and then "I don't know this man you are talking about," before the High Priest, the Elders and the Scribes, in all of this Jesus is surrounded by friends yet acutely alone.
At any point during these last few days Jesus could have slipped away over the Mount of Olives and into the desert, instead he spends an evening with his friends and waits.
Holy Wednesday — Anointing and betrayal (Spy Wednesday)
From this moment on Mark's story is entirely focussed on Jesus' coming crucifixion. With the woman at the centre of today's' reading dominating the scene with her expensive perfume, while the Priests plot to kill Jesus and Judas goes off to strike a bargain with them.
She ignored the nudges and humiliating comments and gave herself away. At this moment in our world situation, as you look around, you can see people giving their whole selves for the healing of the world.
"How do you want to love the world?" Sometimes we are clear about our passions and our callings.
Now we see in a single incident, what this looks like in practice. Social convention is thrown out of the window, forgiveness and love set new standards and raise new expectations; human beings appear, not as society has 'constructed' them, but as God sees them.
What's going on inside you this week, are you part of those who are wanting to look the other way, are you like Judas, hoping that, if Jesus is going to die anyway, you might as well make something out of it, or are you ready to give everything you have to honour this strange man, the unexpected Messiah.
Authority — Holy Tuesday is the longest day in Mark's Gospel from arrival in Jerusalem, verse 20 of chapter 11 "In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots" to the end of chapter 13.
By what authority are you doing theses things? The Pharisees ask, so Jesus embarks on a series of teachings and responses to questions posed. The Parable of the wicked tenants, the question of paying taxes to Caesar, questions concerning the Resurrection, the command to love, the widow's offering, the destruction of the temple and persecution forewarned.
The authority with which he taught and healed turned into explicit authority over the highest institution within Judaism — who did he think he was?
During a time of relative isolation, and 'lock-down' we are reminded of the power and authority of the state to 'control' the movement and actions of its population. Remembering that in some cultures and countries it's not just movement that is sought to be controlled but also thought, belief and action.
When the crisis comes, what remains solid in your life and the life of your community?
Wholehearted love of God and neighbour? Or the mad scramble of everyone trying to save their own skins?
This Holy Tuesday God's authority must confront us.
We have to ask ourselves by whose authority do I live?
Save that we end up like the Pharisees having a hollow sound to our lives.
Jesus and The Twelve Leave Bethany on Monday Morning & Jesus Curses The Fig Tree en route To Jerusalem, where he Cleanses the Temple & expels all commercial activities "Take these things away — do not make my Father's house a house of trade", says Jesus!
This act of Jesus is an act of disruption: not disrupting the events of that day in the Temple but an act of disruption that cut to the core of the historic Jewish faith and all it stood for.
This is a moment of crisis: not for the dove sellers and the money changers; there would always be more doves to sell, more currency to trade. This was a moment of crisis for the people of God.
Jesus was saying that the old way of doing faith was no longer appropriate; that the heart of faith had become lost in the ritualism; that it was passion for God that had sold out, not pigeons for sacrifice.
Jesus is confronting the people of God with a deeply uncomfortable truth: this was a moment for them to re-assess. Was it enough for them to be tied to their ritualism or did they need to find the heart of their faith once more?
Serious questions today for a faith community challenged.
We have uploaded our Palm Sunday YouTube service here
There will be a live feed Good Friday service available to view at the Facebook page for Kings Church Wigan.
Reflections for Holy Week 2020 — Barbara Glasson and Clive Marsh have written short reflections for Holy Week. We will add a new piece each day as the week progresses.
Please do keep checking our website for latest information, news and podcasts.
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Wesley's Chapel London who will live-stream from the chapel (the Minister lives on the premises)
Sundays 11am go here to listen
Methodist Central Hall Westminster
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You can join in a very different worship experience try Sthie ('At home') from the Isle of Man.
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Jesus, by your wounded feet, direct our path. Jesus, by your nailed hands, move us to deeds of love. Jesus, by your pierced side, purify our desires. Jesus by your broken heart, knit ours to yours. Amen.Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)
Loving God, you call us to respond, to receive, and to let go, and invite us to trust your gospel call, your gospel way and your gospel life. Wherever life is full, joy is deep and grace abundant, or where these gifts are yet glimpsed and yearned for, help us to let go and to take up, to give and to receive and, in all our ventures and deliberations, to be inspired and guided by the dying and rising of your Son, our shepherd, Saviour and companion.
Thus, may we come to rest in your eternal self-giving love, glimpsed in beauty, received in kindness, made known in fellowship with you and one another, enduring forever in our hills, valleys and dwelling places. Amen.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
'Do this in remembrance of me.' (v. 24)