As you prepare for the gospel witness of this high festival of our faith, Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday to Easter Sunday, I would like to encourage you to consider reflecting on at least one of the characters of the story that will be retold in coming days. The four Gospels introduce us to many of the people who travelled the Jerusalem journey of our Lord Jesus, as he was tried, crucified and buried, then rose from the grave for our salvation.
If you do this work of reflection, then I invite you to consider how each of the characters is no more or less human than either you or I am. The hero of the story is Jesus, who is the holy one of Israel and whose innocent suffering and death, brings us the great exchange: our sin for his righteousness, that we would know peace with God.
Each of the characters of the story is confronted with the same human emotions that you and I know. In following a character of the story, you will most likely hear of despair, doubt, anxiety, anger, loss, longing, fear, fragility.
Each of the characters of the story presents us with “fragile faith” in its many forms. None of the characters of the story is presented as a kind “great leader” that is often described in political campaigns.
As you listen to the story of Good Friday and Easter again this year, listen for the fragile faith and listen even more, to the hand of God upon each of those struggling characters in the story. Listen for the voice of God calling to each of those characters. Listen to the whole plan of salvation bringing life and the forgiveness for each person, so that the light of God’s gracious love for the world, would dispel the darkness of human reason and fear.
In taking up this kind of reflection exercise on the characters identified around Jesus, I pray that you would find yourself in the story; beloved by the Lord of the cross and the empty grave; embraced by his grace; and called by name to follow wherever he leads, even through death to everlasting life.
Even fragile faith has a firm foundation in all that our Lord has done for us.
O love so mighty, wondrous love unbounded,
That brought Thee hither, thus by foes surrounded!
I sought the pleasures which the world doth offer;
Thou, Lord, must suffer.
Lord, I will ponder on Thy grace unceasing,
Earth’s empty treasures shall no more be pleasing;
To do Thy bidding shall be my endeavour
Now and for ever.
And when, Lord Jesus, at Thy throne in heaven
The crown of glory shall to me be given,
Where all the ransomed sweetest hymns will raise Thee,
I, too, shall praise Thee.
(LHS 55, v. 5, 9 and 10) Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen by Johann Heermann (1585-1647) Tr. H. F. W. Proeve, based on Catherine Winkworth, 1863
I pray that our Lord would guide you through the best of journeys of faith, during Holy Week and Easter 2019. To any who are travelling, may God set his holy angel over you and your loved ones.
In Christ, Paul