THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS As we are not able to meet together on Sundays to praise God and hear his Word due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am providing weekly sermons on line as food for our souls. Please read them and meditate upon them. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a paper copy as they are not online, please inform me and I will arrange for it to be delivered to their home.
Passion Sunday [Lent 5], March 29 2020
Collect Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world; grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
A brief summary on the set readings: a message of hope The set readings in the Common Lectionary for today are Ezekiel 37. 1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8. 6-11 and John 11. 1-45. Maybe you would like to read them during the next few days. In their differing ways all the readings offer a message of hope, which is particularly appropriate at the present time. The reading from Ezekiel offers hope to God's people, who were languishing in exile like dry bones far away from their motherland. God tells him that new life is on the way. Through his spirit he will breathe new life into his people and change them. Furthermore, as an added bonus he tells his people that he would restore their fortunes and they would return home from exile. Psalm 130 reveals the deep emotions of a man in total despair. He cries out to God as the source of his hope, trusting he will restore his fortunes and the fortunes of his nation. At this time of national crisis we are encouraged to do likewise. The gospel reading portrays two sisters grieving over the loss of their brother, Lazarus, and how Jesus, raises Lazarus from the tomb. It's a message of hope to us regarding ourselves and our loved ones. Our eternal destiny is secure as Jesus, who is Lord of life and death, will raise us to new life.
A meditation Having given a brief summary on the set readings, as the basis of my main meditation I want to divert from them and focus your attention on Matthew's Gospel, chapter 16, verse 21. We have the longer passage before us to put these words into context.
A reading from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. (16.21-28) Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? ’For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Darlleniad o'r Efengyl yn ôl Sant Mathew.(16.21-28) O’r amser hwnnw y dechreuodd Iesu ddangos i’w ddisgyblion fod yn rhaid iddo fynd i Jerwsalem, a dioddef llawer gan yr henuriaid a’r prif offeiriaid a’r ysgrifenyddion, a’i ladd, a’r trydydd dydd ei gyfodi. A chymerodd Pedr ef a dechrau ei geryddu gan ddweud, “Na ato Duw, Arglwydd. Ni chaiff hyn ddigwydd i ti.” Troes yntau, a dywedodd wrth Pedr, “Dos ymaith o’mgolwg, Satan; maen tramgwydd ydwyt imi, oherwydd nid ar bethau Duw y mae dy fryd ond ar bethau dynol.” Yna dywedodd Iesu wrth ei ddisgyblion, “Os myn neb ddod ar fy ôl i, rhaid iddo ymwadu ag ef ei hun a chodi ei groes a’m canlyn i. Oherwydd pwy bynnag a fyn gadw ei fywyd, fe’i cyll, ond pwy bynnag a gyll ei fywyd er fy mwyn i, fe’i caiff. Pa elw a gaiff rhywun os ennill yr holl fyd a fforffedu ei fywyd? Neu beth a rydd rhywun yn gyfnewid am ei fywyd? Oherwydd y mae Mab y Dyn ar ddyfod yng ngogoniant ei Dad gyda’i angylion, ac yna fe dâl i bob un yn ôl ei ymddygiad. Yn wir, ‘rwy’n dweud wrthych, y mae rhai o’r sawl sy’n sefyll yma na phrofant flas marwolaeth nes iddynt weld Mab y Dyn yn dyfod yn ei deyrnas.”
MATTHEW 16, VERSE 21.
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed.
Passion Sunday Today is Passion Sunday. It denotes a decisive turning point in the season of Lent and marks the beginning of the build up of the events leading up to the death and passion of our Lord. At Caesarea Philippi we see Jesus preparing the disciples for the dreadful events that were to follow. He must go up to Jerusalem and suffer and die before he rises again. His followers were flabbergasted: this was the last thing they expected. They were looking forward to Jesus defeating the Romans and being crowded as King of the Jews. But it was not to be: his mission inevitably would involve suffering and death. Moreover, Jesus forewarns Peter and his other disciples that they too must be ready to take up their crosses if they wanted to follow him. Thoughts to meditate upon Why did Jesus choose the path of pain and suffering? Here are two suggestions. 1. He believed that this was the path the Father had chosen for him and he must obediently follow it. Jesus believed his sacrificial death was part of God’s plan and he would not avoid it. Indeed, he was convinced that this was the will of his Father for him and was part of his plan for our salvation. He must go to Jerusalem and suffer: a divine necessity was placed upon him. However, he didn't fully understand this plan, and found it difficult to accept. In Gethsemane in prayer he cries out: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done". Despite his reticence, obedience to the Father came first. Suffering may be part of God’s plan for us too. When it comes our way, how do we feel? Are we angry, bitter, resentful? Try to accept the things you do not understand and cannot change believing that it’s part of God’s plan for you. Try not to rebel, but like Jesus obediently accept your lot. When you go to heaven the last pieces of the jigsaw of your life will fit into place, and you'll discover that everything that happened to you was part of God's plan for your eternal, ultimate benefit. 2. He was motivated by his love for us Suffering is an experience that the vast majority of people try to avoid at all costs. Jesus thought otherwise. Why? Let's think a little deeper. Are there any circumstances when an individual would chose pain and suffering and not run away? Yes, there are. If an individual loved another so intensely they would willingly suffer instead of that person. For example, if a child were ill a mother would gladly suffer in its place; or a father would willingly stand in front of his family to shield it if it was threatened by a gunman. Many years ago a little girl named Liz was in hospital suffering from a rare disease. Her only chance of recovery was a blood transfusion from her five year old brother. The doctor asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. After hesitating for a brief moment he took a deep breath and said, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to Liz all of his blood and die in order to save her. Yet so great was his love for his sister he was will to lay down his life for her. Like that little child, Jesus loves us so intensely that he was willing to choose the path of the cross and suffer pain and death to save us from our sins and open the gates of heaven to us sinners. Yes, Jesus showed us how much he loved us by sacrificing his all for us. How great is our love for him and for others? Are we willing to show it by our sacrificial actions? Maybe, we're not called to suffer in the same way that Jesus did. However, in our own little ways we too can give up some of our time, talents and financial resources in the service of Christ and humanity. This is what thousands of people are doing in our nation during this time of national crisis. Remember, the essence of love is not passion or emotion, but sacrifice. Lay down your lives in the service of others. Concluding prayers O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, Amen.
Jesus, incarnate God, in our times of fear and uncertainty, remind us that before rising in triumph from death, you passed through desolation and darkness. As the days lighten, assure us of the hope you bring us; so that our trust and confidence in you may not waiver, but sustain us through whatever difficulties we face. Amen.
Adrian Teale. March 2020.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275