SUNDAY REFLECTIONS

Each week The Reverend Richard Terrell reflects
upon the biblical reading
from The Common Worship Lectionary
that is used in local churches

SUNDAY 28th MARCH 2021

PALM SUNDAY

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY
Mark chapter 11, verses 1-11
The Entry into Jerusalem

 

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.   3If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’   4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street.   As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’   6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.   7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.   8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.   9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve

.

REFLECTION

Palm Sunday is a day when we remember how people celebrated when Jesus entered into Jerusalem some two thousand years ago.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem He told two of his disciples to go on ahead and find a young donkey for Him to ride.

The disciples brought the young donkey to Jesus and they put their coats on it to make a soft place for Jesus to sit.   As they made their way into the city of Jerusalem, people went ahead of Jesus shouting, “Hosanna!   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”   Others followed behind and they were also shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!   Hosanna in the highest!”    All the while, people lined the streets cheering and waving palm branches.

They greeted Jesus as their king.   The only problem was that it didn’t last.   He was only their “King for a Day.”   Later that same week Jesus was arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified.   Many of the same people who had cheered him on that day turned against him.   Now he wore a crown, but it was a crown of thorns.

On Palm Sunday we are reminded that Jesus wants to be our king ‘forever’ not just for a day

PRAYER

True and humble King,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:  grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory.   Amen,

MAUNDY THURSDAY
and GOOD FRIDAY

REFLECTION

The week we call Holy is drawing to an end.   An entry into Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday, saw Jesus riding on a donkey as a sign of servitude.   As the hymn puts it:   ‘This is our God, the Servant King.’

Then on the day we call Maundy Thursday we find Jesus and His closest friends meeting in an upper room.   There Jesus re-enforces the message that He was a servant by washing the feet of the disciples.   Then there was the shocking revelation that one of them, Judas, would betray Him and we subsequently discover the reality of that prediction.   But the disciples are given a new meaning to a meal we know as ‘The Last Supper.’   Jesus speaks of the bread being His body and the wine His blood.   It was the institution of a sacrament – Communion – which Christians celebrate to this day.

Leading on to Good Friday there was a time of trial and execution.   We witness Judah’s betrayal and a general failure to understand the mission of Jesus.   A crowd shouted for the release of a criminal, Barabbas.   Pilate interrogated Jesus but we wonder whether, in the end, Jesus impressed him for he insisted that on the cross the accusation should read: ‘The King of the Jews.’   People, friends and foes alike, witnessed the scene.   They heard and remembered the words Jesus uttered from the cross and a Roman Centurion declared: ‘Truly this man was God’s Son.’

The scene has moved many people to faith.   Isaac Watts, at the end of the seventeenth century, wrote this:-

When I survey the wondrous cross,
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ my God.
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
sorrow and love flow mingling down;
did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an off’ring far too small,
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

PRAYER

Almighty Father,
look with mercy on this your family
for which our Lord Jesus Christ
was content to be betrayed
and given up into the hands of sinners
and to suffer death upon the cross;
who is alive and glorified
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.   Amen

SUNDAY 4th APRIL 2021

EASTER DAY

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY
John chapter 20, verses 1-18
The first Easter morning

 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.   2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’   3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb.   4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.   5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.   6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.   He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.   8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.   10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.   As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.   13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’   She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’   14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.   15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?   For whom are you looking?’   Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’   16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’   She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).   17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.   But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’   18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

REFLECTION

Do you like mystery stories?   I certainly do and today we were hearing, in our reading, the most exciting mystery story ever told.    I call it “The Case of the Empty Tomb.”

The account of the first Easter morning begins with Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ followers, going to the tomb where Jesus was buried and finding that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.   Peter and John were called to investigate but they went back home having found the tomb empty.

Mary, however, stayed behind.   She saw two angels sitting in the empty tomb and expressed her fear that ‘they’ had taken Jesus away and she didn’t know where.   She repeated her fear to someone she thought was the gardener.

The tomb was empty and the mystery remained unsolved until ‘the gardener’ spoke.   “Mary” he said.   And Mary recognised it was Jesus.

“Don’t cling to me,” she was told “and tell my brothers that you have seen me and that I am going to return to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

The Case of the Empty Tomb was solved.   It was empty because Jesus was not dead but alive.   He had risen, just as He said He would.    In the following days the disciples would know the truth.  We have solved the mystery of the first Easter Day.   We believe in the proof given to Mary Magdalene and with her we can declare that ‘Jesus Christ is risen today.   Alleluia!’

PRAYER

God of glory,
by the resurrection of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill us with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.   Amen

EASTER
SERMON

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

         On this Easter morning we have passed through the hours of darkness into the hours of light and an Easter Candle has been lit and carried through our midst.

         The Candle, representing the Light of Christ, was accompanied by the words, “May the Light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.”

         Today we have gathered to celebrate a momentous event.   It is an event which we celebrate with joy, with relief and with hope every Easter Day – the Resurrection of Jesus.

         We celebrate Easter with JOY because the events of the first Easter brings us through every sadness, setback, cruelty and brutality.   In the Easter message we have the joy that only those who have experienced the resurrection for themselves can know.

         ‘Hark, the herald voices cry, singing evermore on high, Alleluia!’

         We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with RELIEF, because the Easter message tells us that the time of waiting is over, the darkness has passed away and life has been restored.

         ‘Jesus lives!   Thy terrors now can no more, O Death, appal us.’

         And we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with HOPE because the Easter message tells us of new life.   Jesus Christ, raised by the Father from the grave, gives us hope for the future.   Raised with Him, transformed by Him, we become new people with the hope of life eternal.

         ‘Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death has won.’

         So on this Easter morning we have feelings of joy, relief and hope as we understand and reflect upon what has taken place.

         On Good Friday we ourselves, remembering what had happened, stood at the foot of the Cross.   We identified ourselves with a small band of disciples and not a few enemies.   We watched with them as Jesus hung on the Cross and we witnessed His last, gasping, breath.

         Then we recalled Joseph of Arimathea – a secret follower, we are told – who obtained permission to take the body down from the Cross and place it in his own private tomb just as darkness was falling and the Sabbath began.

         We recall some faithful women and followers of Jesus preparing the body for burial.   But with the Sabbath immanent, there being no time to do everything.   So they waited until the Sabbath had ended and returned to the tomb the following day.

         So on the first day of the week – which we know as Sunday – the scene was set for the first Easter Day.

         The women, still sorrowful and grief stricken, made their way to the Garden.   As they journeyed they were concerned about how they could move the great stone that sealed the tomb.   As they entered the garden, there was no sign of a guard that Matthew said had been put there by the Jews.   There was no one to help move the stone.

         Yet they need not have worried for, looking up, they saw the stone had been rolled back.   They then saw a young man, dressed in white, standing before them.   “He is not here,” he said.   “Look there is the place where they laid Him …”   “He has been raised again.”

         There are varying accounts of that first Easter morning which is only to be expected.   Ask any witnesses to recall an event, or listen to the reports of an incident, and you’ll notice variations in the detail.

         Perhaps the women were under strain and fearful of arrest, at the time.   Perhaps the dawn light affected what they saw or how they saw it.   Variations may suggest an honesty that may authenticate an event.   It shows there has been no attempt to smooth over the differences or harmonise the reports.

         The reports of the events of the first Easter morning, in essence, reveal to us a group of breathless, amazed, incredibly joyful and excited people who try to tell others what appears to be a totally unbelievable story.

         As the hours and the days of the first Easter pass the events become more generally known and clearer.   The disciples are shown evidence that would prove, beyond all doubt, that their Lord had risen from the dead – as He said He would.

         As the truth begins to emerge the disciples find that their saddened hearts are turned to joy.   The DARKNESS of Good Friday is turned into the LIGHT OF EASTER.

         Now as we celebrate Easter we must remember that this is not only a time to recall events long past but also a time to recognise that Easter has a message for today.

         The Easter message is the same today as it was for the first disciples.   CHRIST IS RISEN.   Christ has conquered death and sin.   He promises to bring us out of darkness into His glorious light.   He promises New Life to all who believe and trust in Him – a new life today and a new life beyond the grave.

         The message of Easter encourages us to be strong and faithful when life seems difficult and hopeless.   It assures us to hold fast to God’s promises and trust in Him.   It assures us of God’s help and presence, freely given and graciously available.

         From the DARKNESS that covered the earth on Good Friday came the all-embracing triumph and LIGHT of Easter Day.   From death on a Cross and burial in a cold dark tomb came the splendour and the greatness of the first Easter morning.

         So today remember the change from DARKNESS TO LIGHT.   Out of ruin and destruction, despair and sinfulness, came goodness.   With the events of Easter remember how God brought new life and hope.

         Today, as we shout our ‘alleluias’ and proclaim that ‘Jesus Christ is risen today,’ remember also that Jesus told us, ‘I am risen and I am still with you.’   The darkness has been lifted from our lives.   A new light is shining within us.

         So as we leave church today, with the Easter message ringing in our ears and proclaimed by our lives, remember the joy, the relief and the hope this day brings.

         ‘Alleluia,’ we proclaim.   ‘Christ is risen,’ we declare.   Rejoice now that out of DARKNESS has come LIGHT and that Jesus Christ is risen indeed.   Alleluia!

Sutton Bingham 2021

PRAYER

Eternal Father, at this Eastertide you have reminded us, through the resurrection of your Son, that from darkness you have brought light.   Help us to shine with the brightness of your one true light, set us aflame with the fire of your love, and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory;   through Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Saviour.   Amen.

SUNDAY 11th APRIL 2021

THE SECOND SUNDAY
OF EASTER

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY
John chapter 20, verses 19-31
Jesus appears to His disciples

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’   20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.   Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.   21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you   As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’   22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.   23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.   25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’   But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.   Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’   27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands.   Reach out your hand and put it in my side.   Do not doubt but believe.’   28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’   29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me?   Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.   31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

REFLECTION

Seeing is believing, goes the saying.   Sometimes we need to see something before we can believe it.   That was certainly the case in today’s reading.

On the evening of the Sunday after Jesus had been crucified, His disciples were together in a locked room, fearful that those who had crucified Jesus would come for them.   Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the room.

It was hard for the disciples to believe what had happened.   But they had seen Jesus for themselves.   He showed them the wounds in His hands and side to convince the disciples that it was really Him.

Thomas, however, was not convinced.   He was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them.    So when the disciples told him what had happened he just couldn’t believe it.   Thomas had seen Jesus crucified and buried so how could He be alive?   “Unless I see the wound in His side and put my finger in the holes where the nails were in His hands, I will not believe it!” he declared.

A week later Thomas was granted his wish and his doubts were dispelled.    “Put your finger here,” Jesus told him.   “See my hands.   Reach out your hand and put it into my side.   Stop doubting and believe.”

There are many people who can identify themselves with Thomas.   We ourselves are among those who have never seen Jesus with our own eyes – only through the eyes of faith.   The pessimism of all who have not ‘seen’ is understandable.

It is even more remarkable and praiseworthy when we respond to the call of faith.   When we know and believe in the truth of the risen Lord we are blessed indeed.   As Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen yet have come to believe.”

Hopefully you are not a doubter but someone who is blessed.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,
help us to believe in our heart the truths we find in your Holy Word, even though we have not seen them with our eyes.    Amen.

MARTIN’S MESSAGE

Martin the Monkey sometimes accompanies The Reverend Richard and helps to re-enforce the Gospel message. He usually attends on special occasions in the Church Year and shares his thoughts with you.

SEEN ALIVE AGAIN

READING FOR THE SEASON
John chapter 20, verses 1-18
Seeing the risen Lord

 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.   2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’   3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb.   4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.   5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.   6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.   He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.   8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.   10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.   As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.   13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’   She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’   14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.   15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?   For whom are you looking?’   Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’   16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’   She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).   17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.   But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’   18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

MARTIN’S MESSAGE

Look at the drawing at the top of this article and stare at the four dots in the centre for about thirty seconds.   Then, close your eyes and wait for an image to appear.

Did you see Jesus?    Some people will and others don’t.

It’s a little like real life.   Some people don’t see Jesus because they are looking for Him in the wrong places.

That is what happened at Easter.   Read again John chapter 20.

Mary Magdalene, on finding the stone had been rolled away from the tomb ran and found Simon Peter and John and told them, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”

They both ran to the tomb.   Simon Peter, at first, didn’t know what to make of it but John, when he entered the tomb saw and believed.   They hadn’t understood the scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead and they went home.

Mary stayed behind but didn’t recognise Jesus until he called her by name.   She then knew it was Jesus and went and told the disciples that she had seen Jesus, alive again.

Some people, like Mary, Peter, and John can’t see Jesus because they are looking for Him in a grave or on a cross.  They are looking for him in the wrong place.

If we want to ‘see’ Jesus we must look around and see him revealed by people, led by the Spirit, who make him real in their lives and to others.   If we want to ‘see’ Jesus we can look in the pages of scripture and he will become real and alive to us.

If we do not look in the right places we ourselves will not see Jesus alive again.

PRAYER

God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill us with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.   Amen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.