The Lent Study Series Session 3 is continuing online at our YouTube channel. Please follow the playlist there.
Today we have is the most wonderful set of readings. They go right to the heart of the faith.
Not only do we have the 10 commandments, but we also have that challenging passage from First Corinthians , which includes one of the great statements about the Faith “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Finally, we have the John version of the cleansing of the Temple.
Any one of them would provide the topic for a demanding sermon. There was a temptation just to take one reading. The problem was which one reading to concentrate on?
Where do we begin? Well it seems to me that we begin not with the readings at all, but we look at the background against which we are worshipping, and that means Lent. We are trying to focus on a time of penance, reflection, and abstinence. Now these three actions are all brought to us through our readings.
Ultimately we have to live our moral lives with reference to the ten commandments. No matter how much we want to concentrate on the summation of the law, love God, love your neighbour, there are times when the 10 commandments raise issues about how we live our lives, and remind us that there are constraints on our behaviour, both positive and negative, demands on what we do or don’t do.
The ten commandments are in themselves a topic for reflection. As Part of our Lentin discipline we are well advised to think about, first of all what we understand the 10 commandments of be demanding for us, and secondly how well we are conforming to their demands. Thus it is that we understand that judgment begins with ourselves in honesty and justice.
While the ten commandments give us a framework for our moral behaviour – and remember the final five of the commandments – our relationship with humanity is in fact independent of whether one believes in God, the Corinthian passage challenges us at time of widespread disbelief.
Here we have the affirmation that the Good news of the Cross is not going to be universally received. For over 1000 years Christianity has been the pretty well official faith of Scotland (we can have a great time arguing about what happened in the second half of the first millennium). Now we have to accept that this is no longer the case. The decline of traditional religiosity has been made even more stark with the Covid epidemic, where the people of God have had to find innovative ways of carrying out their witness to the world in times of reduced meetings with distancing and lockdown. When the restrictions are eased, we will make our way out into a changed world. If the past is a foreign country, how much more is the Covid threatened future?
However, while the people of God will have the practical problems of just how we “do Church in the Covid world, the church is also thrown back into the situation to which Paul was writing to the Church at Corinth. We need, this Lent to affirm that the good News of Christ is foolishness. That philosophy looks for answers, which the religious want signs. But you see Christianity is a lifestyle, it is called the Way, the road. It is something which we do, though our doing is based upon our belief and experience of Jesus of Nazareth, who lives, was dead is now alive, ascended and with God in honour, interceding for us.
It is the life of this person which attracts us. We can’t have a Jesus who isn’t real, who didn’t do things, and today we find ourselves confronted with this event in the Temple. It interesting thing is that in the Synoptic Gospels this is at the beginning of Holy Week, immediately after the triumphant entry, while in John from which we read it is right at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry – on his first visit to Jerusalem. When we read the stories, from the three synoptic Gospels, for once – almost uniquely in the Gospels the Mark story about the cleansing of the temple is the longest account.
But we have John today John is writing his account of the life of Jesus much later than the writers of the synoptics. John was trying to make sense of what had happened. For Mark and Luke the important thing was that the temple authorities sought to destroy Jesus. For John, the important issues connected to the event were the questions of authority, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’ and the question of the Resurrection which the disciples only understood later. Listen to what John says, “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken”.
I believe that it is important that Christians look seriously at what Jesus did. He was proclaiming that it was possible for the rule of God to break into society. He keeps on saying that the kingdom of God is at hand, or the kingdom of God is like. In the cleansing of the in Mark and Luke temple we are given what amounts to the political response.
One of my favourite religious cartoons shows Jesus standing in a red robe with a whip. But the people whom he is driving out of the building are modern bankers, Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sacks. Yes I know that it is American, but it asks us questions which we have to answer about what our Lord would think of the modern world
So on this third Sunday in Lent we find ourselves confronted. We are having to ask what the real demands of the 10 Commandments are for us – a reflection. We find ourselves thinking about the small marginal Church at Corinth, and we in a secular age find that the Good news at the beginning of the life of the Community of faith in Christ was no more acceptable than it is today. And we find in the cleansing of the temple political and economic questions for us to be lived today in the light of the demands, the actions of Christ. So we come in prayer asking for guidance and wisdom,
But let us reflect first of all on
Rev Edward Andrews
Monday 15th March 2021 17.00-17.40
Join us in an online Vigil for Syria, marking ten years of the Syrian conflict, as a public expression of solidarity with the Syrian people and Syrian refugees
here in Scotland and in other countries.
Register on Eventbrite, read the flyer on the full post for more details.
Download or read the February church newsletter here.
This year we will hold an online study each week during lent. This is to help us to find short periods each day for silence and solitude. The watchword for our series is “LET GO AND LET GOD”. Hopefully you will discover new and deeper understanding of just being with God through contemplation. Taking teaching minutes each day; 10 minutes for silence; 10 minutes for contemplation on a bible verse and 10 minutes of reflection about Jesus teaching for our lives today… is time well spent.
Rev Donald Prentice
There’s lots of help available for Christian meditation. We have a playlist of meditations on our YouTube channel led by Gemma from St Leonard’s Church. If you need further help then watch the video below which will guide you.
‘How to do Christian Meditation’ is a short animation film that introduces meditation to people who have never meditated before, especially Christians who think that it is not part of the Christian traditions.Taken from the video’s description.
You can also Pilgrimage into Meditations at Home. If you have an hour spare to sit down and relax, then listening to Father Laurence Freeman OSB might give you a helpful way to be still, to let go of the World and to let God enter your whole being.
A short session spent in Christian contemplation with Gemma Spurgeon is now available on our YouTube channel. Gemma is hoping to provide this service every 2 weeks.
During this particularly hazardous phase of the Pandemic, we may not all be gathered in the same building. We just cant meet as a congregation. But at this time, when we need each other… so much, we are invited to worship together, from where we are – knowing that God can hear us all and can blend even distant voices into one song of worship. So ley us now….worship God as we draw our hearts together.
Because this Sunday is the start of the World week of prayer for Christian unity, we are conscious of the mysterious fellowship of all the Churches, around the World, each of them sharing the same restrictions and lockdown rules that we have here in our own Church. Sadly, many Christians, faithful believers have been victims of this pandemic. Of the 2 million or so people who have died, many have died in the faith to realise the promise of Jesus, to be true, eternal life. But many others may not have been so fortunate.
It is our duty as Christians, to share in the tasks of bringing people to the Lord Jesus, and that is all we have to do, except perhaps to share our faith and lead them to baptism. Inexperienced Christians are nervous about this task. You need not be nervous or afraid. In John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying…“Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” Read John Ch 15
During this Global lockdown, the Sisters of a Monastic community in Switzerland, Grandchamp, invite people to join them at home in practicing silence and prayer. For 2021, the sisters are inviting churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence that is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church. When science and pharmaceutical drugs cannot help us, our faith can help people to calm their fears and remove their anxiety.
Daily, politicians and appointed medical experts preach about our physical well being and we thank them for their small contribution. But Our spiritual well-being is as important as our physical well-being. In the past year both of these have been seriously challenged: the Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to be careful about our own health, taking precautions such as washing hands and wearing face masks and maintaining social distance. Some of us have been ill or have lost someone close to us. Meanwhile the working lives of many have been disrupted and families kept apart. This is often at huge personal cost. Thousands of grannies have been denied a hug just when they need one most. Perhaps it has made us all more anxious about our health and more aware of our vulnerability. At the same time, when most needed, church buildings have been closed and worship has been taking place online. Opportunities to worship and pray together have been seriously curtailed. Many are feeling a sense of isolation from God as well as from fried and neighbour. The period of lockdown has caused us to think again about our priorities and the things and people that we value. The things that make our lives whole. The long periods of absence from extended family and friends, and the inability to share a meal together or celebrate a birthday or a wedding or funeral , are examples of this.
When it comes to our spiritual life, what is it that is most important for our well-being? The World churches in the World Ecumenical council, have asked the Sisters of Grandchamp to put together a program of spiritual exercise and contemplation that could help people around the world, to benefit through reflection and meditation.
The Sisters of Grandchamp have offered us something uniquely precious: an opportunity to engage with a form of prayer that is both very ancient and yet at the same time so apposite for our times. The ancient rhythm of prayer found in many religious orders and their traditions teach us that when we pray, we pray not just on our own or with those who share the same physical space, but with the whole Church, the Body of Christ.
This tradition of prayer and spirituality, despite the things that hurt and separate us, invites us into shared prayer and silence together. Surely a most precious gift in troubled times. Come with us this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and enter into a place of community and blessing. Simply “be” in this place and be carried by the prayer and the reality that it is God, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, who carries us and accompanies us.
If you wish to follow the service and prayer vigils, best followed in the evening or at night, please log on to the website for week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or the Pontifical Ecumenical council site or the World Ecumenical Council site. We will use the CTBI site (Christians Together in Britain and Ireland) site. Or www.grandchamp.org If you do so, you can join a series of 3 vigils nightly in the Benedictine contemplative style.
Rev. Donald Prentice