March 2019

Sunday 3rd March:  Sunday before Lent: Luke 9 38-36

About eight days after Jesus had said these things, He took with Him Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray.  And as He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became radiantly white.  Suddenly two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with Jesus.  They appeared in glory and spoke about His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Meanwhile Peter and his companions were overcome by sleep, but when they awoke, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with Him.  As Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While Peter was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!” After the voice had spoken, only Jesus was present with them. The disciples kept this to themselves, and in those days they did not tell anyone what they had seen.

For three fishermen, this must have been a totally unexpected, amazing experience.  To go with Jesus away somewhere quiet for him to pray was something which had happened before – but what followed on this occasion must have been, for them, unexpected and frightening. Yet afterwards they returned to their ordinary lives.   It might sound as if this is just a story from the past – but God still speaks to his beloved people in many unexpected ways which take them out of their comfort zone.  He might want to reaffirm his love, endorse what we are doing in his name, or give us needed encouragement. 

Are we ready for an unusual or unexpected encounter with God?  Ready to accept his love and encouragement?  Then return to our lives knowing we are surrounded by his caring and love?  When it comes, what a challenge – and what an opportunity!

 

Sunday 10th March: Lent1: Luke 4 1-13

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If  You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ”Then the devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  “I will give You authority over all these kingdoms and all their glory,” he said. “For it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish.  So if You worship me, it will all be Yours.” But Jesus replied, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’ ”Then the devil led Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here.  For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ”But Jesus declared, “It also says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. ”When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

It is so very easy to succumb to ‘temptation’ – to follow the crowd, to go along with popular thinking and actions, to keep quiet about perceived injustices to avoid trouble.  The list is endless.  Yet how reassuring to know that Jesus, God’s son, was also tempted.  Life wasn’t an easy ride for him, and like us, he faced challenges which he had to decide how to deal with as they arose.

At these times when we are faced with perhaps difficult choices which affect the way we act and live it is good to remember that not only are we following in Jesus’ footsteps, but he is beside us helping and encouraging us to make the right decisions.  We only need to ask him for his help.

 

Sunday17th March: Lent 2: Luke 13 31to end

At that very hour, some Pharisees came to Jesus and told Him, “Leave this place and get away, because Herod wants to kill You.” But Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look, I will keep driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach My goal.’  Nevertheless, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day, for it is not admissible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling.  Look, your house is left to you desolate. And I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Sometimes we have to ignore warnings from other people for us to avoid trouble and problems and have the courage to continue on what we know is the right course for us.  In this case, the warnings came from the Pharisees, who were in fact not acting as Jesus’ friends as they had their own agenda which they were following, wanting to get rid of him.  Jesus reacted promptly, vowing to continue his work which he had been called to do.

Having the courage to carry on doing what we know is right isn’t always easy -  but once again, Jesus has been there before us.  Take the situation to him in prayer, ask for his help, and with this you will have the strength to do what God is asking you to do.  In this period of Lent when we are preparing ourselves for Easter, we may especially want to ask God’s help and courage for doing his work.

 

Sunday 24th March:  Lent 3: Luke 13 1-9

…………Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.  So he said to the keeper of the vineyard, ‘Look, for the past three years I have come to search for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Therefore cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’   ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone again this year, until I dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine. But if not, you can cut it down.’”

Second chances – it is so good when we make mistakes and discover that we are going to be given another chance to do things right.  Jesus’ story was about a fig tree which didn’t produce the fruit expected of it – and therefore was in line for being cut down.  Yet the keeper of the vineyard asked for more time, saying he would give it extra care and fertilizer to see if that would improve things.

God gives us second chances – but more importantly, he also gives us the support and help we need to try again – and again – and again.   He really wants us to succeed, to do well, to achieve what he knows we can achieve, and he is waiting beside us to give us the help we need.  But we do have to ask for it;  let us say a big thank you to God for his second chances in our lives, and the help he gives us to make these really work.

 

Sunday 31st March: Mothering Sunday:  Luke 2  33-35

The Child’s father and mother were amazed at what was spoken about Him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed— and a sword will pierce your soul as well.”

On this Sunday when we remember with gratitude all that our mothers have given and done to and for us in the many joys and sorrows in our lives, we also remember the love surrounding us by God, by all our friends, by the church.  All these supporting sources of help are ours to use and gain benefit from, and we say a big thank you for all our blessings.

Are you fortunate enough still to be receiving a mum’s love and support – or are you perhaps the one who is trying to give it (no mean task!).  In all this we are part of God’s loving plan for the world as we gratefully receive what we are given, and help each other wherever we can.




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