Hello everyone! Today is a beautiful day with glorious
sunshine with a real feel of spring, although the weather forecast mentioned
the possibility of wintry showers next week!
I remember one April day, when the children were still small, when it
snowed and we went sledging, but the next day the snow had gone! It can still be cold even at this time of
We heard an impressive
service this morning led by young people in a Catholic Church in St Helen’s
whose focus was on Barabbas, the thief and murderer released instead of the
innocent Jesus. Lenten services this
year had been focussing on those on the edge of Holy Week. Barabbas would have realised that he was
guilty of his crimes and that Jesus was innocent and recognised his good
fortune to be released. A young man
spoke of how he had been let down in love and turned to drink and hard drugs to
fill the gap in his life; he tried many things to feel fulfilled and only
turned to the church as a last resort.
He heard a former Hells Angel giving his testimony and the accepting
love and forgiveness of Christ filled his heart and his life was turned
round. Now he had a ministry of reaching
out to young people throughout the country and abroad, who were struggling in
their lives and lead them to the accepting love of Jesus. There are so many of us who let our Lord
down, but he is there with us in our struggle and pain to help us with his
accepting and forgiving love.
This morning I led the
morning worship at our chapel with the assistance of our worship leader
Christine Bunting and other members of our congregation. Christine led the opening prayers and the
children’s address, which was told from the point of view of the colt. The boys were very responsive to her
questions about Palm Sunday, especially two young boys of 5 and 7 from one
family, who were ready with their hands raised to answer! One boy from another family also contributed
to the answers using the words of the coming hymn about Jesus trotting into
Jerusalem! After the service the 5 year
old told me that he could answer so well, as they had been learning about it at
school; which school I asked and was told ‘St Peter’s School’, which is a
Church of England school! It had
certainly given Henry confidence to answer.
I thought his late Grandfather Tony Hitchen would have been so proud of
him! Tony was a great local preacher who
used stories about cars to illustrate his children’s talks, who was training
for full time ministry when he was called early to his Maker.
Daniel, his father Les,
and Mary joined Christine and me to do dramatised readings based on the early
Christian hymn from Philippians 5v5-11 and St Luke’s version of the triumphal
entry into Jerusalem from Luke 19v28-40.
It really added to the meaningfulness of the readings having the
different voices and brought them to life.
Jesus showed the type of Messiah
he was, when he entered into Jerusalem.
He came humbly on a donkey in peace, not on a horse to lead a rebellion. Garments were thrown over the donkey and on
the road for Jesus to ride over. The
disciples thanked God and praised him as Jesus rode along to such an extent
that the Pharisees wanted them to be quiet, but Jesus said that if they were
silent then even the stones would shout out. Jesus was very courageous to enter Jerusalem
so openly as he would realise that he was in danger from the religious
authorities. They felt threatened by Jesus and the way he challenged their
rules and regulations. They kept
themselves separate from sinners and outcasts and did not accept Jesus’
attitude of love and acceptance.
Jesus wanted the crowds
to realise that he was not going to be the conquering hero they wanted to
deliver them from the Roman occupation. He
set his face towards Jerusalem where he realised that he would face suffering
and death, especially as the crowds would be disappointed that he was not
coming to lead an open rebellion.
Paul urged his readers
in Philippians 2 to have the same humble attitude as Jesus had, not seeking equality
with God, but becoming human and taking on the role of a servant, showing the
people his father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance. Jesus was willing to follow his father’s way
of love even though it would lead to his suffering and death, when the
religious authorities felt threatened by Jesus’ flouting of rules and his
socialising with outcasts and sinner.
Let us walk with Jesus again in this Holy Week, which is just beginning,
through his ultimate self-giving even to his death on the cross and give thanks
for his courageous obedience.
This is the day that
the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.