I hope everyone found some spiritual uplift at the huge variety of services made available from the R.M.C. and together with the Budleigh Partnership this Holy Week and Easter Sunday. I certainly did!
Everything from Karen’s Seder meal on Maundy Thursday and foot washing service at St. Peter’s, to contemplative compline services leading up to…..
With our partnership friends Karen and I (together with the “open the book” team) staged a Good Friday outdoor Family service on the lawn of the Temple Methodist church. The sun shone and well over 100 people turned up for a poignant service which drew the attention of quite a few people who stopped in the street to watch.
Jesus is condemned
Karen then presided at a quiet reflective service in St. Peter’s at 3pm which was excellent by all accounts and I presided at “The cross of Christ” traditional service of anthems readings and prayers which I very much enjoyed in the evening.
The sunrise service on the beach (by the long boat café) was memorable. Apparently, it was the first time we’d seen the sun for many years – there was a full moon too! It started at 6am (!) but still drew 90 people, followed by a full cooked breakfast at Temple. Then followed all the usual Sunday fare at all three churches and of course the highlight for me was the 10am Eucharist at St. Peter’s where 200 people joined together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you’d like to read what I said at the two services at St. Peter’s just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2019/04/alleluia-christ-is-risen.html
Next Week is the 2nd Sunday of Easter
During the Easter season, readings from the book of Acts are mandatory in the church of England emphasising that we are a “new testament” church. Rather than the Acts of the Apostles the book written by Luke has sometimes been dubbed the Acts of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday I am in the villages and Karen is at St. Peter’s.
Acts 5: 27-32. The Apostles filled Jerusalem with Jesus’ teaching and caused quite a stir. They were witnesses, to the resurrection and to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 1: 4-8. Jesus (via John) addresses the universal body of Christians (“made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and father” – verse 6) via these seven specific congregations in Asia Minor. Remember that seven symbolises perfection or completion as in “the seven spirits before the throne” (verse 4). Jesus comes with the clouds, signifying divinity, and his rule is established for ever.
John 20: 19- 31. Jesus appears in a locked room and breathes the Holy Spirit on his followers on Easter Sunday, but Thomas was not with them. He wouldn’t believe the others until he had seen Jesus himself. Thomas is forever saddled with the moniker “doubting” Thomas but in fact is the first one who declares “My Lord and My God” and in fact went on to found the Thomist church in India which is alive and flourishing today. The significance for us of course is that if we can believe without the necessity to touch Jesus’ wounds we are blessed indeed.
Thought for today
In the Easter story tragedy and joy are profoundly and closely linked. As it is in life also. The fire at Notre Dame cathedral seemed to stand as a metaphor for death and/or cleansing from which something has the chance to grow afresh in our European context, but that tragedy was dwarfed by the events that took place in Sri Lanka. It is early days but the death toll from bombs planted in churches celebrating Easter and also in hotels has already reached over 300 with 500 injured at the time of writing.
It is an under-reported fact that Christians are the victims in 75% of all religious persecution in the world according to current statistics quoted on the BBC. Not an impression that you would glean from the world’s media outlets who generally prefer to ignore Christianity at all costs if they can or deride it when the opportunity presents itself. It is a timely reminder for those of us who live in relative peace and security in countries that have a Christian cultural history that the vast majority of the worldwide church is poor and marginalised and lives in countries where antagonism towards them is institutional and getting worse. Let us pray for them.
The prayer for today is taken from “release international” an organisation that stands alongside, helps and prays for persecuted Christians
Sovereign God, we worship You and we acknowledge that You know all of those who suffer in Your name.
We remember those who are imprisoned for their faith and ask that they would join with the Apostle Paul to see that even though they remain captive, their chains have furthered the gospel, not frustrated it.
May they inspire and embolden their fellow believers to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
God of all comfort, for those who are tortured both in body and mind, give them the grace to endure and to see their suffering as part of following in Christ’s footsteps.
Merciful God, for those asked to pay the ultimate price; who are martyred because of their love for You, may they truly know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.
Father God, for those who are widowed and orphaned may they know the comfort that comes from Your promised presence even when they walk through the valley.
May they be strengthened by Your Spirit, enabling them to rejoice with the psalmist as they proclaim that the Lord will not abandon them in death.
Heavenly Father, we ask that You would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in Your name.
Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Love and peace