Archive for March 2013

Dark Friday?   Leave a comment

Honestly we seem have little idea what to do with this strange day we call “Good Friday.” Growing up in England it was always a national holiday. Most, if not all, businesses closed  and there was a sense of muted respect even in the lives of those for whom the message of the day was not understood. Coming to live in the US, I was initially struck by the scant attention that was paid to the day, especially by Christians. Some of the more traditional churches offered observant meditations and others held evening events but there was very little to suggest that there was anything to remember on this particular day. Remember what ?

This year, as never before, I have been impacted by the need to remember and grapple with the darkness that was such a stark reality, particularly for that little group of Jesus followers 2000 years ago. As one of them sold him, another denied even knowing Him, and all disappeared fearing for their lives, Jesus walked a lonely and agonizing path.

He endured trials that made a mockery of justice along with mental and physical abuse beyond our imagination only to be nailed on a cross. Why? Because, a few hours before, he had knelt in quiet of the garden of Gethsemane and surrendered to His Father’s plan. It was His decision and from that moment He walked with resolve and purpose into the darkness. Nothing happened by accident. He chose to grasp every moment with both hands.

So how should we, as Jesus followers today, observe Good Friday? We can learn from Peter, impetuous enthusiastic Peter who only opens his mouth to change feet! How heroic was his promise never to leave Jesus’ side but how tragic the paralyzing fear that resulted in him not only leaving him but denying that he even knew Jesus. How excruciating the moment must have been when those eyes, the eyes of his precious friend “ the Lord turned and looked upon Peter and Peter remembered”. The darkness had drawn out and revealed his self-confidence and arrogance. Not to humiliate and crush him, but to restore and heal him so he could become the pillar on which God would build the church. But for now, on the day we now call “Good Friday”, he needed to wait in the darkness and confront the truth.

There is, of course, so much to learn from Jesus. He surrendered to the will of His Father and headed resolutely into the darkness. Things did not get better. They got worse until he would gasp those final words “It is finished”. However it was that absolute trust in his Father that gave Him the strength to proceed with unwavering conviction.

We are blessed to know the next chapter and the joy and victory it brings but we should not rush past Good Friday. I believe we must pause to embrace its darkness and pain. Maybe God has something to call out of us, so that he might bring us healing and transformation. Or perhaps His purpose is to renew our confidence in Him and our perseverance so that, by truly embracing the darkness now we might celebrate an amazing Easter Sunday and be used by Him in significant ways in the future.

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Posted March 29, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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Relationship Re-Defined   Leave a comment

When He was on the way to the cross Jesus clearly envisaged a totally fresh approach to relationship for the future when he “comforted” his disciples.

I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you…The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.  John 14:16-17,26 MSG

At first glance this does not seem comforting at all. Actually it seems entirely incomprehensible! Our relationships are dependent on our auditory and visual senses. However, neither eyes nor ears seem to have a significant role in the relational developments Jesus shares with his closest friends . But He clearly implies this “new” relationship will be better than their current experience of having Jesus physically present with them most of the time. How can this be? Centuries later we are still grappling for the answer.

And then there are the times He gives us a hint. Lying on a hospital bed waiting for surgery to remove my melanoma Maggie said to me that she had really sensed powerfully that these verses from Isaiah 43 were for us on that day; we read them out loud together and prayed them through.

Surgery completed and news of the melanoma having spread to my lymph nodes, I called my mother in the UK to give her the news. Within an hour she called back and said that as she was praying for us a passage from Isaiah came strongly to her mind. Yes it was the same verses from Isaiah 43:1-3a.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.

O Israel, the one who formed you says,

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters,

I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.

For I am the LORD, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Did we “hear God or “see” him? No.  Did He speak? Most certainly yes, and He made a point of reassuring us of that fact through my mother.

I am very aware that I have barely touched the reality and the mystery of this relationship that God has designed for me. However the amazing thing is that because it is not dependent on sight nor sound it can be real for each of us at the same time and all the time, regardless of our location! So let’s not give up asking Him to teach us how to experience the fullness of this new way of relating. Don’t you think, if Jesus says its better, ultimately it must be?

Posted March 23, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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