A reflection for the 14th February 2021
'Sunday Before Lent'

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Offered for Sunday 14th February 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Sunday Before Lent'

February 14th 2021


What do the following have
in common
the Italian Operatic pop group Il Volo,
not Il Divo,
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
and Tom 'The Voice' Jones?

Your ten seconds start now
10,9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... The answer is
if you have not already guessed,
all three have enjoyed chart
success with their recordings
of the song 'Delilah'
with Tom Jones having
the most successful of them
back in 1968!

One of the strengths of the song
is not only robust tune and melody
especially when delivered by
the powerful and unique voice of Tom Jones!

It's also the skill of the
songwriters Les Reed,
Barry Mason and
Sylvia Whittingham as they
tell the tragic love story
of this 'Murder Ballard'
with an economy of words
which leaves us in no doubt
as what happened to Delilah listen...

At break of day
when that man drove away,
I was waiting
I crossed the street
to her house and she
opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand
and she laughed no more

There is no detail as to
how many times the knife was used,
no detail as to how long
it took Delilah to die.

The words are chosen
with a superb economy
letting us fill in the gaps
without going outside the
actual story told in the lyrics!

This is similar to Marks Gospel,
this may be the shortest of the
four Gospels starting straight
away with the Baptism of Jesus,
but don't be put off by its brevity.

Mark is a wordsmith of the
highest order using fewer words
than the other Gospel writers,
but offering us a massive canvas
to work with when
learning about Jesus!

For example
look at his skill in 'Chapter 13'
with what is known as
'The Little Apocalypse!'

Marks Gospel is the principle
Gospel reading for the remaining
Sundays in the Churches year,
do not be deceived by its brevity!

As written on the flyleaf of one of
the definitive commentaries on Mark
by D.E. Nineham;
'Although St. Mark's Gospel is the
least cultured and grammatical
of the four, it's the author's
talent for writing narrative that
is indisputable'
and as David L. Turner
shrewdly comments
'Mark's message (Gospel)
gives us something to be
thankful for every day
of the year';
concluding with a reflection
we'll pick up on over the year;

'Reading Mark convinces me that
God uses deeply flawed people
as cruciform agents for his Kingdom.
What a blessing!'


Let us Pray


We thank you for
the gospel-writers
in all their uniqueness.
We thank you for your
Spirit at work in them and us.
Through their words
speak your Living Word,
point us to the Jesus
of history,
and the Christ of faith,
the risen Lord who
calls us to follow today,
the One who promised
to be with us always
to the end of time.
We ask this in his name.
Amen.


Address


One of the most precious
things we can hope for in life
is a good perspective;
it helps us know what is true
and what isn't,
and where we should go.

Someone lost in a jungle may
climb a tree to get a perspective
to see their way out;
people lost in a wilderness
may climb a mountain.

Someone by a fence will climb up
to see what's on the other side.

But height is not the only thing
that gives perspective;
anything which takes us out
of our usual surroundings,
either physically or
in our hearts or minds,
can give us perspective.

After a bereavement or shock,
people will often say:
"It puts everything
into perspective,"
and for a time we are reminded
of what's really important in our lives.
But it rarely lasts for long;
eventually things return
to normal and we forget
that clear vision.

It's a bit like a person
who gets a new prescription
for their spectacles.
When they put on the new glasses
for the first time,
everything looks incredibly
sharp and bright and
clear and colourful.

But it doesn't last long;
after only a few minutes
the world looks normal again.

Yet for those few minutes
the world was revealed in a new way.
The transfiguration is one of the most
important events recorded in the Gospels,
yet it is only witnessed
by three disciples.

The contrast with the breathless,
earthy narrative of the rest of
Mark's Gospel is striking.

This transcendent Jesus
seems quite different from
the man the disciples
have been following.

Yet this event is of vital importance
to ensure that they do not
miss the divinity at the heart
of the humanity.

It's a remarkable truth,
but one which only a few are
able to perceive.
Mark makes it clear this
is a special insight,
one that only those who have
the potential to perceive
the truth may grasp;

those who are especially
close to Jesus;
and able to "listen to him".
Even then,
they need to be taken out of
their usual context
to see something has been
right before their eyes;
the truth of who Jesus is

So why does Jesus tell them
not to tell anyone?
The "Messianic Secret"
as scholars describe it
in Mark's Gospel
has bewildered many,
but it is generally thought
to indicate Jesus'
unwillingness to draw attention
to himself in an
inappropriate way;

he came to serve and
ultimately to die,
not to be a celebrity.

His true and transcendent nature
needs to be understood,
and followed,
in the light of the passion
and resurrection.

However, it is important that
we never forget his true
identity as the Son of God,
the Messiah;
and that perspective transforms
everything else.

Jesus must take priority
in all our thinking,
our seeing,
our action in the world.

As we approach Lent,
we are called to set aside
time to be with Jesus,
to "listen to him" and
renew our relationship with him.

We may not be able to climb
mountains, or indeed go
anywhere different,
but it is important to find
a way of gaining a
different perspective.

For some, this may come through
a "Lenten discipline";
as we deprive ourselves of
our usual comforts,
we find ourselves in a
place where life looks and
feels different and we
see things in a new way.

For others,
life will have delivered a
different perspective,
perhaps through good fortune,
or perhaps through
brokenness or loss.

Christians are invited to use
those opportunities to get a
fresh perspective about
Jesus and where he may be
found in our world
and our lives.

The Canadian poet and singer
Leonard Cohen has a line
in his song, "Anthem":
"There's a crack, a crack,
in everything;
it's where the light gets in."

The cracks in our lives
are really important,
because so often that's
when we can see
things clearly.

Look for the cracks,
and see what they reveal
about Jesus and where
he is at work in the world
and in your life;
then listen and follow.


To Summarise

We can climb mountains
to get perspective,
but there are other ways of
putting things in perspective,
especially through difficult times.
The disciples were taken up
the mountain by Jesus
to get a different perspective.

Only three of the twelve;
who were close enough to
Jesus to see the truth;
were able to see him
as he was at that time.

Lent is a time to gain a
fresh perspective;
through spiritual discipline,
Retreat from the norm,
or life events that take us
out of our usual context,
all enabling us to see
Jesus clearly and
to follow him.


Our Blessing


The dazzling presence of
Christ on the mountain,
the passionate heartbeat of
Christ on the cross;
may they be your knowledge
as you walk with him
through this world.
And the blessing of God almighty....


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