Monday Holy Week
Welcome to our Holy Week Services.
Our hope is that every night this week a new, short, service will be online to help you celebrate the upcoming Easter.
We are following a meditation sheet that can be found on our web page in the latest magazine edition.
Before we have our first reading let us open this act of worship with prayer.
God of relationship,
Forgive us for all those times we cut ourselves off from others.
Our government is encouraging this just now, hoping to spread and limit the corona virus so that it doesn't overwhelm our health service.
And we are maybe scared for our own health, so we protect ourselves, isolate ourselves.
But that is no excuse for all the other times we isolate ourselves, that we cut ourselves off from others.
Those times that we cut ourselves off from those that are different.
Like the foreigners.
Or those of other religions.
Or those of a different sexuality.
Or those that are noisy and in your face.
Or those that want to cuddle us and have no consideration for our space.
Or those that are mourning and are so depressing.
Or those that are just a pain in the neck and so needy.
Or those...well the list goes on and on and on...
It would be scary to look in the mirror and go through all the reasons that you would want to isolate yourself from us.
All the things we have done wrong.
All the things we have failed to do to help others.
All our greed and our selfishness and our insensitivity.
What would it be like if you truly gave us what we wanted, and cut us off from everyone, everything. Caught in the dark isolation of hell, left only to ourselves for all eternity.
But you don’t do that.
In grace and mercy you continue to reach out the hand of relationship to each f us, giving us what we need rather than what we think we want.
Hoping that we will, in turn, see the joy of being with others.
You hope that we will be in relationship with others, so in relationship we say together the prayer that you taught us
Which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Our reading tonight is from John 12: 20-36
Alva is a weird place.
In Alva there are two types of people, there are those who come from Alva, and there are the incomers.
I once was visiting this old woman and her neighbour was in the house, and they were talking about all the incomers who were taking over Alva.
and the neighbour said to the woman, 'I don't know why you are talking about incomers like that when you are an incomer yourself.'
And the woman I was visiting indignantly said, 'How dare you. I was born in this house.'
To which the neighbour said, 'Yes but your father wasn't born in Alva.'
Two types of people, those from Alva and incomers.
And you know, that's OK, until we decide to treat people differently just because of the labels we have put on them.
In our passage tonight we have this tension going on.
Does God believe people are different, and if they are, does God treat them differently?
The Jews felt it was very clear that God saw people differently.
There were the Jewish people, the Chosen people, and there were the Gentiles, by default the not-chosen people.
Now you could change sides. If a gentile was guided by God to see things differently, then he could go through a process where he became one of the Chosen people.
But it was a long process, and a painful process, so many didn't go that far.
That’s how we end up with these Greeks that are part of the story tonight.
They are worshipping in the Temple, in the outer part of the Temple where anyone could go. And they see Jesus in the distance.
Could they see to Jesus? Are they allowed to be with him?
Well that depends, who owned this rabbi?
Was he just for the Jews?
I have a granddaughter who knows that my wife is her granny, in her head that means that she has exclusive ownership of that grannies’ love. If not exclusive ownership then definitely first dibs. To the extent that when my wife was playing with another child I heard my granddaughter shout, 'No. She's my granny.'
To a certain extent that was the way some Jews thought about God.
He's our God. We get first dibs on anything and everything that he does.
And these Greeks hear Jesus and wonder if maybe Jesus is saying something different.
What if God is their God too.
But they don't have the guts to ask Jesus directly.
They notice that one of the disciples has a Greek name, Philip.
Maybe they notice a slight difference in his accent.
Well they ask him if it would be Ok to see Jesus.
And, not being confident himself, he asks Andrew to ask Jesus.
That might be a sign to remind us that even those we think are confident in their faith might not be as confident as we think they are.
Anyway Jesus then gives the opinion that maybe God is a bit more open than we are.
So maybe the question is not so much is God open to us, but are we open to God?
I have five children, some are biological and some are not.
If you were to ask me which one is my favourite I would tell you that you are asking the wrong question.
If you were to ask me which ones do I support, which ones do I encourage, which ones do I rejoice with when they succeed, which ones do I mourn with when they struggle, I would tell you...all of them.
Trust me, God is a lot more loving than I am.
God is a lot more tolerant and patient and generous and caring than I am.
If you ask me which people are his favourites, which people are His people, I would tell you that you are asking the wrong question.
If you were to ask me who does God support, who does He encourage, who does He rejoice with when they succeed, who does He mourn with when they struggle, I would tell you...all of us.
Let us pray
As your love reaches out to us, may we reach out to all people.
We hope that you have enjoyed this first meditation of Holy Week, and join us tomorrow for Tuesday nights meditation with Anne.
Save us from ourselves at this time.
Save us from the temptation to blame others for the mess we are in.
Save us from the temptation to ask you to change the world so that it is easier for us,
or the temptation to change others so that our lives are easier,
Instead, help us to change the one thing we are responsible for, ourselves, and how we react to the world.
Help us to be more open to the needs of others, to be kinder in all that we say and we do.
This we ask in Jesus name. Amen
Thank you for being here and listening to us today.
Remember you can ask the church to pray for people you care about through the web page.
Don’t forget to donate to local foodbanks in your area.
For those who don’t have access to the internet we have a telephone number where you can hear the latest sermon for free. The number is 01259 606 303 Please pass that on to anyone you know who would benefit.
Lastly, it is our intention to have reflections for every night of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. So if you look on our web site or facebook page you will be able to access those meditations there.
Until next time...
We hope we have been a blessing to you, try to be a blessing to others.