A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Holy Week Reflections - Tuesday of Holy Week

My weekly Thursday morning bible study (10 A.M. in church parlor) is focusing on the days of Holy Week for our Lenten study this year. This week, our focus was on Tuesday. We're using the book, "Christians at the Cross" by Anglican Bishop and New Testament bible scholar, N.T. Wright.

The book consists of a series of sermons that Bishop Wright preached at Church of the Ascension, located in Easington Colliery, north east England, overlooking the North Sea. The reason he preached a a series of sermons for Holy Week in this particular location in 2007 is due to the tremendous economic hardships facing this former coal mining community which shut down in 1993.

This is also a community which continues to carry the heavy grief of a terrible mine explosion which happened in that community in 1951 (81 miners and 2 rescue workers died.)

The events of Holy Week which led Jesus to the cross is a way to help whole communities facing economic and societal problems like Easington Colliery to work through immeasurable pain and grief and point us forward to a new beginning and a new way of living through the hope and promise of Jesus' resurrection.

During this Lenten focus, members of my bible study will be naming the pain and struggles of our community and surrounding area by printing these on pieces of paper which will then be brought to the cross at our Good Friday service for God to bring about healing and a new way of moving into the future with hope.

Today, we focused on Tuesday of Holy Week. Here are the brief highlights of our study:

  • The scriptures for this day are Isaiah 49:1-7 & John 12:20-36 (The connection is between the Suffering Servant's lament that he has served in vain & Jesus looking ahead to his own death by mentioning the grain of wheat needing to die before it can bear fruit.)
  • Defeating sin and death cost Jesus' his own life. What appeared to be in vain turned out to be God's victory!
  • Based on these scriptures, NT Wright encourages us to do four things: 1) claim the victory that Jesus won on the cross. 2) hold the pain of our community/world in our heart and in light of Jesus' victory on the cross. 3) pray that the grains of wheat that fall into the earth and die will bear much fruit. 4) work for this fruit by being part of God's healing love in a hurting world.
  • We don't know exactly how God will bring about healing in our communities and in our lives, but the story of Jesus' last days and Holy Week are what we need for the present moment. Journeying with Jesus through Holy Week to the cross reminds us that we do not go through this journey alone.
  • Next Thursday, we will focus on Wednesday of Holy Week.

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