This Week's Reflection

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A reflection for the second week of lent:

Most of us know enough of the story of Jesus to know that he gets crucified, which is what we remember on Good Friday. What we don’t always know or remember is that Jesus knew it was going to happen and didn’t do anything to avoid it. In fact he seems to actually actively do things that will make it more likely to happen, not least by annoying people in power and going to Jerusalem where the really powerful people were and so making it all the more likely that he would end up executed.  He could have seriously lengthened his life if he had stayed out in the villages and small towns, gathering followers and not winding up those who had the power to kill him or get him killed. So why didn’t he? It would seem he knew that he had to take the difficult path that would, more than likely, lead to suffering and death.

In one story he tells some of his closest followers that this was going to happen. One of his best friends, Peter, tells him not to talk this way and Jesus gets pretty angry with Peter and calls him the devil (you might know the phrase “get behind me Satan”). I can understand Peter. If one of my best friends said they were going to go on a way that would lead to suffering and death I think I would tell them to stop talking like this and find another way.

So why does Jesus make this very intentional choice?

Well the truth is we’d all like an easier life, but in reality we know that this easy life doesn’t exist, even if we don’t want to admit that. We might think that if we have a good job, a lovely house, and perfect relationships our life will be OK, or even wonderful. But the truth is that isn’t really the case. Life is hard, jobs get lost and sometimes don’t even come and when we do have them they don’t often turn out to be the thing that really makes us happy. Houses get leaky roofs and sometimes we find it hard to keep them or even find them. Relationships are complicated. And then of course pandemics come, and if not a pandemic then illness or worry and stress.  

Jesus knows this truth of life (and life was certainly harder in Jesus’ day than in ours) and says make another choice. Don’t choose to gather things and people around you that you think will make your life OK or even wonderful. Rather choose a way that serves the needs of the world and then you might just discover something about life: it’s not about what you gather, but what you give.

In choosing to go a way that would lead to suffering and death Jesus was saying that the most important thing was working to change the world by making people aware of the truth of God’s love and challenging the injustices of the time. He knew that that would not make friends in powerful places and may well lead him to suffering, which indeed it did.

This does not mean we go out looking for suffering. Nor does it mean that there is not joy in our following this way of Jesus (we read elsewhere that Jesus dances and sings and parties as much as any other person). What it does mean though, is that we accept that we are choosing a way that costs. It costs all the things that we sometimes think life is about: money, power and the accumulation of things. The call of Jesus is to intentionally choose a way that will not feather our nest and will not bring us power or riches or status. But it will be a way that may well hurt – a way that means us suffering for love.

And when we do this we discover who we really are: we are not a person who has things, or status or power. We are a person who loves and who cares and who cherishes the human race and the planet we live on. And when we know that, Jesus says, we know the person God created us to be.

This week we’re thinking about the word “intentional”: not doing things by mistake or just because that’s where life is or where events around us take us or it’s what we always do. It’s about making a choice. Thinking about what we do and what that means and the impact it has. So we’ll intentionally think about the things we do, the money we spend, the way we show our love and care for those closest and beyond, and our whole planet. We can be intentional in our gratitude and our hope, in our responses to others and the way we care for ourselves. We can also think about the time we take to pray and intentionally be with, and notice, God.

It’s not an easy way, but as we do it, it becomes easier as we let go of the things we thought life was about and as we discover who we really are.

 

 

A prayers for this week:

We turn to you O God of all, source of life, the heart of creation,

we turn to you and find that you are already turned toward us

 in love and laughter, in waiting and weeping, in hurting and healing.

You are never far away, even when we do not notice you.

As we turn now, hear our prayers of praise and thanks for the life you live among us.

We thank you for the nurture and provision we have known this past week:

the caring words,

the thoughtful actions,

the loving prayers,  

the joyful encounters.

When we have not seen you remind us that you have still been there.

When we have forgotten you, remind us that you have not forgotten us.

 

We turn to you with prayers for our world and community:

We pray with and for those who are known to us who need our prayers this week.

We pray with and for those who care and those who hold positions of power and influence.

We pray with and for all who, as the anniversary of our first lockdown comes close, will look back on the last year with sadness and hopelessness.

We pray knowing that we are among those who need these prayers, and we are thankful that you hold us when we do not know where to turn. Remind us you journey with us and help us to trust your faithfulness.

We are thankful that you trust us to do your work in the world, and we are thankful that you hear us better than we can pray.

Help us become answers to at least some of our prayers.

In the name of Jesus, the one who called us to live a life of love, Amen.

 

Anne Sardeson 28.2.21