The three crosses of Calvary

Matthew Ch 27 vs 45 tells us “ From noon on darkness came over the land”…. And with darkness is an implied silence…

No one shouting hosana hosana…. They’d gone home..

No one shouting Crucify crucify… they’d gone home, either disillusioned, or with smug satisfaction or just because darkness veiled their sight  

And around the silhouetted cross there stand a few… soldiers, John, Women… and you…

And its quiet and it’s dark and its uncertain.

And three man hang there sorrowing sighing bleeding dying…

And you wait and you wonder…

You’ve seen so much, you’ve hoped so much and now, it is dark and it feels lonely, forsaken… My God My God why have you forsaken Me!

What brought you here? Why do you linger?

I thirst… I thirst for the living God.

God has brought you on a journey through many a wilderness and many each step drawing you closer.

And so here you stand at the foot of the cross and you wait and you watch… and God is calling he’s called you from the crowd from the doubt and the fear he’s called you to the cross. And He is calling still – Forgive them Father,

 it is you that receive forgiveness from the cross..

But were three crosses on Calvary that day, and  only one of them saved you and it is that cross that calls to you know.

There were 3 crosses to show us the way that God draws us deeper and deeper into relationship with him.  The 3 crosses are a pathway to living in Christ and with Christ and through Christ.

When St Paul says I have ben crucified with Christ he does not mean alongside. We must not strive to be like the Criminal who was told, today you will be with me in paradise – our faith in God isn’t meant to just save us  – it is meant to bring us into relationship with God through JESUS Christ. 

Receiving eternal life is the beginning of salvation and its final outcome but we are called to a life of service here and now, the cross of Jesus the centre of the story is where we must strive to be.

And so we stand in the dark of our ignorance and the disquiet of our discontent and we watch and we wait, and the Christ of the cross calls out to us, with each breath He breathes life for us.

The central cross of Christ is the one that we must seek. Giving of ourselves completely to God, not just clinging to the promise of a life hereafter, but giving of ourselves for this world;

offering ourselves as a sacrifice to be used by God in this world so that others too may take the journey that we see unfolding for us on Calvary.

Today we have journeyed with Jesus from his condemnation, from receiving our cross – that cross was made for Barrabbas and it was made for us for the wages of sin is death, 

But Jesus has declared us free and he though he is declared innocent by Pilot who said – “I find no fault with this man”, Jesus carries those sins he carries the shame he carries the instrument of death, and like Simon of Cyrene we have carried it too… and now here we stand in silence, and we watch and we wait..

 we have seen Jesus fall reminding us that we will fail along the way,  and we have watched him persevere to this place where we watch and we wait..

When we accept the cross alongside Jesus we still make demands for our own well being, save us – If you were really God, the we would not have this problem.. when we accept the cross alongside Jesus then we still seek only our own salvation we seek the promise of our own well being..

But when we accept the cross with Jesus we see the world differently.. we see a world that needs forgiveness, a world that need hope a world that need God.  

We have seen Jesus weep for the world that will reject him, John 3 :16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that who ever believes in him shall not perish but receive eternal life. But vs 19 says  – and this is the judgement that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeps were evil.

The Jewish Officials, the Roman soldiers the crowds shouting crucify had all displayed that evil that persists to this day. 

As we journey deeper and deeper we are left with three crosses on a hill side and we are being called through the journey to the cross through our own conversation on the cross to an intimate and personal experience of Jesus on the cross.

 we are being crucified with Christ – where we first desire God to make the  world different, form the darkness can you hear your own voice cry out against God….

Alongside Jesus we make demands, alongside Jesus we seek salvation for ourselves, and so we come closer and we are crucified with Christ alongside him in a state of repentance from where we  understand our sinfulness and Christ’s holiness .  from where we understand and  receive the offer of eternal life.

And so we wait in the darkness and we hear the sigh and we feel the pain and God is calling us onward and inward to the 

central cross of Jesus where God offers us union with Christ with his death and his resurrection.

When we truly unite ourselves in Christ and give ourselves to this cross, we feel the pain of the world. We understand the plight of others and we empathise with them.

We intercede for the forgiveness of others and we desire only God.

When we take our place with Jesus and through Him and In Him and with Him

live to God’s glory  – then we will truly receive the Eternal crown of Glory, then we truly receive life. Not just the promise of life but a know life a resurrected life, a life of meaning now.

And so we wait and we wonder and God is calling , calling us to lay down our lives and trust completely in him…

And so we journey deeper and we are buried with Christ and we overcome the evil one and we are set free to rise in Victory…. But we will make that journey of resurrection on Sunday… for now let us just rest completely in God, let us welcome this moment

If we do not accept the tomb we cannot accept the resurrection. If we cannot accept surrender, then we cannot live in obedience.

God calls us to this point of surrender.

Where we must let go of our desire for power and control

Where we must let go of our desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure

Where we must Let go of your desire for survival and security

Where we must  Let go of your desire to change any situation, condition, person or yourself.

We have been truly crucified with Christ and we no longer live… 

Do you want to receive resurrection?

Do you want a life in Christ?

Then you have to your life, in the tomb of conversion, the tomb of transformation . 

in laying down our lives Jesus is resurrected in us and we in him

God is calling to you in the darkness and bringing you light and hope and joy and peace!

May it be yours this day for that its what Christ won for you on Calvary.

Fr. Andrew Manning

Listen to “A GOOD Friday reflection From Fr ANDREW-EPISODE 10 Andrew’s podcast” on Spreaker.

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

Holy Week From The Rector’s Desk

It’s not surprising that there are so many books available on the life and times of Jesus the Christ covering His birth, ministry, death and resurrection . And it is not surprising that these books do not exhaust the topic. I pray that over this Holy Week you will deepen your relationship with God and grow in your understanding of His Grace.

This Easter I want to focus on the fact that the whole story of Easter must be celebrated and understood in the context of the resurrection, but that every step leads to resurrection. Unless we grow in our understanding of the events that led up to the Resurrection, we won’t understand it.

We must be aware that for Jesus and the Disciples, Easter wasn’t a week interspersed with a number of longer than usual church services, it was one long journey – and ordeal… We have tried to keep that in our minds as we celebrate the” Triduum” from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday and into the Easter Vigil. What we call the Foot washing service, Good Friday and the Lighting of the Fire on Holy Saturday. It is really one continuous event. As we break this down, we will deal with each step of the journey that Jesus took to the Tomb and the stone that rolled away.

Each service will be about God preparing your heart to be transformed by His love and sacrifice and the “Stone being rolled away.”

I pray that you will experience “the full extent of Jesus love – as He washes your feet… through the hands of others.

I pray that you will experience the depth of His love as His hands which flung stars into space, are to cruel nails surrendered.”

I pray that you will recognize yourself in each character portrayed in the Narrative and see how God is continually calling you closer, showing you His love encouraging you and giving His all for you.

Very often Easter can slip into a morbid and gruesome remembrance of Jesus physical suffering, and it is important that we know that there was indeed a great amount of suffering, but this suffering was not a loss nor a defeat that was overcome on Sunday at the resurrection. It was in this very death and embracing humanity at its worst that Jesus won the battle. The Triduum isn’t something that must merely be endured to get too the joy of the Easter Resurrection! Each action, each event, each part of the journey is Jesus winning. He wins when He reorders the Passover meal, He wins when He faces up to the challenge in the Garden on the mount of olives, He wins when He stands trial and is declared to be without fault by Pontius Pilate, He wins when He carries His cross, He wins when Simon carries it for him, he winds when he speaks from the cross forgiving sin and glorifying God, he wins when he breaths His last, He wins when He is laid in the tomb. HE wins when He is resurrected!

How can that be, suffering is not winning, death is a defeat, the cross is an instrument of torture and shame, how can it be a win?  Because when Jesus eats the Passover He is showing His love, when He washes their feet He is showing His love, when He prays in the garden He is showing His love, when He accepts arrest He is showing His love when He accepts condemnation He is showing His love, when He spreads out His hands He is showing us love, when He speaks seven times from the cross He is showing His love and when He breathes His last He is showing His love, and love wins. The cycle of violence and retribution is ended, the patter of vicious power and peace through fear is ended. Jesus has won the victory.

On Wednesday the Clergy all renew their ordination promises and commit to serving God through His Church. On Saturday we will all renew our Baptismal promises and recommit to serving God. I pray that you will do so with the intent to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.

So let us learn how to love and how to serve and how to reorder our lives that we may be effective in our witness to God and give ourselves as living sacrifices as we profess to do.

Whose feet do you need to wash?

Whose betrayal do you need to forgive?

What do you need to re-prioritize in your life, to receive the resurrection and live for Jesus?

Easter is a time of renewal may you experience it in all its fullness,

A blessed Easter to you!

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From The Rector’s Desk 7 April 2019

Greetings in Christ.

Two things before I share a reflection that I would like you to meditate on over the next three weeks.

One, our Parish is going through a very tough time financially and we at present are not managing to pay all the bills. We are working hard to resolve the problems, but it is only fair that I inform you of our situation. I pray that in these difficult financial times God will bless us and provide for us, I am very aware that it is because we are all struggling and that we, as a community, are having financial problems.

Two, over the next few weeks we will be having combined services of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s, I ask you to please attend the services that are at the church that you are not usually at. Easter is a very intense time and trying to do double the services (as I have done in the past) is not a reasonable expectation of me. Please check the published dates and times and attend the services as per the roster. If needed, organize to travel together, parking at your usual church and car pooling to the other.

May God bless you abundantly.


An Easter Reflection on Walking with Jesus

Over the next three weeks we enter the most intense Liturgical journey of our Christian year.

Next Sunday we will cry Hosanna Hosanna as we “Walk with Jesus in His Passion.” A walk of courage and giving the clear message that He is the King of the Jews, the Messiah. We will walk along the road and lay down our palm branches, we will walk into the temple and see how sinful we have become , we will walk again in the Temple as Jesus claims it and clears it, fulfilling the expectations of the Messiah.

Then we will participate in a Passover meal – recalling the exodus from Egypt and how Jesus re-organized that festival to convey the message of His delivering of us from sin. On Thursday we will participate in a part of that occasion – the foot washing . St John wrote; “and now Jesus showed them the full extent of His love” , and washed their feet.

On Friday we will follow Jesus to the Cross and learn to carry the Cross of Jesus and that there were three crosses on Calvary, but only one saved us. We will journey with Jesus and in a great symbolic act renew our Baptismal promises on Saturday night. In the space so to speak – between the cross and the resurrection we will make our faith statement  – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live” and then we will walk with Jesus in Resurrection – “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Throughout this lent we have learnt that Jesus was establishing a new Kingdom – on Palm Sunday we will see Him riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey –  A symbol that the king was coming in peace, not to destroy men’s lives but to save them!

Its not an easy walk. We have discovered that in Lent, often been challenged to “be transformed by the renewal of your minds.”  We share the sentiment of the original crowds who followed Jesus with the disciples being astonished and the crowds afraid.  Even though we have recalled this story annually all our lives we still marvel and in the words of William Barclay “ anyone who writes about the death of Jesus  ( in our case walks with Jesus) about the cross and its meaning is conscious that although it is the greatest thing in all the world , He is walking into a realm of controversy and a battle ground of opposing theologies. Barclay concludes and I concur that “ without disregarding and without attacking the beliefs of others , (we) must  witness to our own.

My prayer is that as we walk with Jesus you will deepen your understanding of Him and of His love for you. That the cross and Resurrection of Jesus will provide the context for your life and that you will find the true meaning of life in serving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.

As Isaiah writes   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, See I am doing a new thing,” he doesn’t mean ignore what has been but do not remain in the past – do not let Easter be a celebration of a past event, but see that God is working something new in you, this is your journey of death and resurrection, this is your journey of God delivering you from the Egypt of Sin into the promised land of salvation.

Many flee from the cross of Jesus and many hang around at a distance, but I pray that you will go all the way with Jesus! May this Easter be a time of great renewal in your life and may you walk in the joy of the Lord, for when we repent and return to the Lord our God, we once were dead but now we live, were lost but now we are found.

Be assured of my prayers

Fr. Andrew