From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From The Rector’s Desk – 13 April 2019

One thing that Palm Sunday always reminds me of is that in life there are always two narratives going on, the one is about what I think is going on, one filled with what I think is grandeur, glory and personal fulfillment, filled with palms and shouts of hosanna and a crowd marching, and the other is about what God is doing, about what is really going on, humility and self sacrifice and giving, and love for others, as God intervenes in our everyday lives and reorders, rearranges and re-prioritizes our existence. Walking with Jesus means that very often we won’t understand what is going on immediately, we won’t gather the full meaning, until after the fact, but Jesus knows exactly what He is doing and  why He is doing it, when He is doing it. Going into Jerusalem that day the people were welcoming their King, ( an act that could have caused the Romans to send out the troops and squash a potential rebellion) but  Jesus didn’t stop them even though they didn’t understand exactly what was about to happen, in fact He said that the very stones would sing, if the people refrained.

When one knows the outcome, the way that we approach things is very different to when we are uncertain of the outcome. Our expectations of someone or something contribute to how we react and interact with the situation. Those that we read about in scripture did not have the luxury of knowing the outcome, even though it had been foretold. We do know, and so that way that we should approach the story, the narrative is to allow our certainty to change the way that we act when faced with the Narrative of God saving the world.

On Palm Sunday the people laying down their cloaks, were welcoming their King who was coming to overthrow the Roman Government.  A King coming to fulfill an ancient prophecy that they would be re-established as the political power of Israel, overthrowing the Romans and establishing the Kingdom of God. They were partly right! As Jesus entered Jerusalem He was coming to overthrow, but not the Roman Government, not earthly power, but the power of sin and death, the kingdom of this world was to be overthrown and the Kingdom of God re-established and He Himself would sit on the throne not in the earthly Jerusalem but in the New Jerusalem. King’s coming to celebrate victory would ride a white horse; King’s coming in peace would ride on a donkey.  Jesus is coming in humility, with great power, the power over death, hatred, fear,  abuse of power, self centeredness, and the desire for personal gain that leads to corruption. Jesus comes with the power of love!

So often in our own lives we are praising God expecting things to be done in a certain way only to find that what God is doing is much bigger and much broader with eternity in mind and not just the immediate. Power to give and to love not to overthrow and to dominate.

Palm Sunday is a great reminder that the narrative that we author in our own lives normally differs greatly from the narrative that God is unfolding in our lives. 

Jesus comes with great courage, He comes in love and gives Himself for the world.

If we are to walk with Jesus then we are to have great courage, and humility, and obedience to God and a willingness to serve others, even our enemies, sharing in Jesus’ death and then in His resurrection.

This Holy Week allow God to re-order your life story, to change your perspective on what life is all about. The hope for the world lies in a self-sacrificing love for the world , allow God to re-order your religion as He clears the Temple, weep with Jesus over Jerusalem (as you weep for our country and our world) allow God to re-order your life and to redefine your freedom as you share the Passover meal, allow God  to put to death the power of this world over your life on the Cross that sets you free, so that you can recommit to God as you  re-discover what it means to be crucified with Christ and resurrected in Him.

A blessed Holy Week to you!

Fr Andrew.

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