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Living the Lectionary

A starting point from week to week in my Journey from A-C

Month

March 2015

I want to see Jesus

One summer, AC/DC played a show in Winnipeg.  My Dad and I were driving back home after dropping my brother off downtown, and we drove past the location where the concert was being held.  Because the concert was at the outdoor stadium even out on the road you could see parts of the stage and hear the music.  There were people sitting on their roofs and standing along the sidewalks or parked in nearby parking lots, all people trying to get some kind of experience of the concert, but without paying the cost.  It’s amazing what people will try to do to see someone famous.

John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it seemed to be a climactic moment.  Everyone was looking to see this man, everyone wanted to experience the prophet who could raise people from the dead for themselves.  By the time the reader gets to chapter 12:20-36 we can see that even the Greeks in the area want to see and understand what they have heard. So they approach Philip and say, we want to see Jesus.

So Philip tells Andrew and then the two of them go and present the request to Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t really answer the question.  Instead he predicts his death, and it gets me wondering, do you want to see Jesus?

Do you really want to see Jesus?

We often have no idea what we’re asking when we pray to the Lord.  It is my sense that through his seeming lack of response that Jesus is telling the people around him that if they really want to see him then they must look to the cross.

As Jesus is lifted up he draws us to him, it is in the darkness of his death, that the light is most evident. The cost is great, but through the death of Jesus Christ, we are able to be called children of the light!

Do you want to see Jesus?

(note: I’ve run out of time before my Lenten break starts, so there will not be a post for the Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday readings, see you after Easter)

He Breaks the Power of Cancelled Sin

One of my favorite hymns is Wesley’s O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.  The Hymn was written a year after his conversion, it contains his testimony of faith.  My favorite verse is this:

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

But I have often wondered how sin that has been cancelled can have any real power at all.  But then I remember, I remember the times growing up where I had done something wrong. I was afraid of facing the consequences to my actions and so would try to hide what I had done, what remains hidden surely cannot be exposed, right?  The problem though is that I knew whatever it was at the time was there.  I had never been able to hide my faults from myself, so even though I had gotten away with the crime it would still hold me prisoner in some ways.

We often give power to powerless things.

John 3 contains some of the most known words of the scripture found in verse 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”.  We quote those words often, but we forget to move on to the rest of the verses in that chapter and they contain within them a painful truth. That is that there is judgement in this beloved chapter.

There are those who face condemnation, but it is not Jesus who condemns them.  Rather it is their deeds, they refuse to step out into the light for fear of being exposed.  We don’t want the light of Jesus to expose who we really are, you know when no one is looking.  Yet, there is an invitation to walk in the light and so we must choose.

Yes, we will be exposed; but we will also be restored facing no condemnation because in walking in the light we will learn to walk rightly with him who is lifted up.

Where is God Now?

James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I can remember as I was growing up in the church, the altar at the front of the building.  It’s still there in many Salvation Army corps, and we call it the Mercy Seat.  As young children we were taught that this was a very holy place and we were not to touch it if we were not there to pray.  We were not to dare sit on it, allow things to fall on it, or run around it because it was a sacred space.

What this kind of teaching did for me, was to make me afraid of the space in a way. If it was misused, my fear was that God was going to strike me down in some way.

I’ve grown since then, and I understand the significance of the Mercy Seat in the lives of many.  I can respect that it can be a very sacred space where people meet the very real presence of God.  I also remember though, that when all is said and done it’s still just a piece of wood at the front of a chapel.  (Though I do still cringe if I see someone using it as a seat).

People meet with the Lord at the Mercy Seat; people can also meet with him at their bedside, kitchen table, in the car, on a walk, or wherever we find ourselves from day to day.

God is accessible anywhere and anytime through Jesus Christ.

The fact that God is accessible anywhere was a very important truth for John’s audience.  The gospels were written after the temple had been destroyed and was lying in ruins. If a person had grown up being taught that the very presence of God could only be found in the temple, then it stands to reason they would wonder how they would be able to experience his presence again now that the temple has been ruined.

Right at the outset of his gospel in the story of Jesus cleansing the temple, John offers a word of hope to his readers reminding them that the presence of God is not out of reach, but indeed can be found in Jesus.

So we who are so far removed from that time, can also find the presence of God in the living Christ.  (I know I said living Christ before the Lenten season is over, that’s what happens when you know how the story turns out).

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