A reflection for the 21st March 2021
'Fifth Sunday in Lent'
Passion Sunday

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Offered for Sunday 21st March 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Fifth Sunday in Lent'

March 21st 2021


It's one of the unfortunate
facts of history, time and time again
it's in death the 'Great Ones'
find their glory.
It's when they died, and how they died,
which showed people what and who
they really were.
They may have been misunderstood, undervalued,
condemned as criminals in their lives,
but their deaths showed their true place
in the scheme of things.
Abraham Lincoln had many enemies
during his lifetime;
but even those who had criticized him
saw his greatness when he died.

Someone came out of the room where Lincoln lay,
after the assassin's bullet had killed him,
saying: "Now he belongs to the ages."
Stanton, his war minister, who always regarded
Lincoln as crude and uncouth
making no attempt to conceal his contempt,
looked down at Lincoln's dead body
with tears in his eyes.
"There lies," he said,
"the greatest ruler of men
the world has ever seen."

Joan of Arc was burned as a witch
and a heretic by the English.
One of the secretaries of the
King of England left the scene saying:
"We are all lost because we have burned a saint."

Again and again a martyr's majesty
has appeared in death.
It was so with Jesus, for even the centurion
at the foot of the Cross was left saying
as we read in Matthew 27:54
"Truly this was the Son of God".

The Cross was the glory of Jesus
because he was never more majestic
than in his death.
The Cross was the glory because its magnet
drew people to him in a way that
even his life had never done.

History also bears witness to God's people
laying down their lives with Tertullian,
an important early Christian theologian,
observing
"the blood of the martyrs is
the seed of the Church".



Let us Pray


In 1 John Chapter 2 v 2 we read:-
'He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not only for ours but for the
sins of the whole world.'
For your love which breathed this
world into being, and daily sustains it.
For your love which granted your
creation free will and choice
For your love which never fails as we do,
but stretches to eternity
For your love, sacrificed
upon a cross for our sake
For your love which rose triumphant
from the grave and lives within us.
For your love which encircles us
as we meet together in your presence
For your love which extends to all humanity
Because you died to sow the seeds
of your presence in our lives.
Amen



Address


Sometimes people talk about their
"Hour of Glory", referring to a moment of
supreme achievement and success.

We may be able to think of an "Hour of Glory"
in our lives; when we won a sports championship
or a prize at school, or were awarded special
recognition for our work
or service in the community.

Such an "Hour of Glory" usually involves
being honoured and admired by others.
It's a high point in our lives when
we feel good about ourselves,
proud of our achievements and
bask a little in the admiration of others.

Today is the fifth Sunday of our season of Lent
which is also known as Passion Sunday,
when we think of Jesus' "Hour of Glory".
This is a glory of a different kind.
In John 12:20 to 33, the "Hour of Glory",
the supreme moment, the climax of Jesus' life,
is revealed in his suffering and his death.

Jesus "Hour of Glory" has at last come.
Earlier in John 2:4, Jesus tells his mother
at the wedding at Cana,
"My hour has not yet come"
and twice later in John 7:30 and 8:20 he tells us
he has not been arrested because
"His hour had not yet come".

But now Jesus himself in 12:23 tells his disciples
"The Hour has Come for the Son of Man to be glorified".

What does it mean by this hour?
We might think the "Hour of Glory" is a more
suitable description for the triumphant
entry into Jerusalem when a great crowd of
Jews and Greek comes out to see Jesus,
joyfully waving 'Palm Branches'
and proclaiming him "The King of Israel".

This is indeed a moment of recognition,
acclamation, and admiration.
The Pharisees declare in 12:19,
"Look, the world has gone after him!"
Many a politician and leader would long
for such an "Hour of Glory"!
But for Jesus,
this moment of acclamation and popularity
is not the "Hour of Glory".
The hour he speaks of is the hour of his
suffering and death;
an hour when suffering and glory are
interwoven together.
Jesus cries out,
"'Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say;
'Father, save me from this hour'?
No, it is for this reason
that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.'"

We have a glimpse here of Jesus' agony
in the Garden of Gethsemane as described in
Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Jesus would have the cup of suffering,
the hour of suffering, pass him by if he could.
Yet, he says, "Your will be done" and
"Father, your name be glorified."
It is not that suffering itself is glorious.

Jesus has no desire to suffer for its own sake.
But he has a sense that God's loving purposes
are at work through his suffering and death;
his death will be fruitful and through it
God's glory will be revealed.
He is like the grain of wheat which has to die
in the earth in order to bear fruit.

The high point of his vocation
is not the triumphal entry into Jerusalem,
but rather his death on the cross;
it is here, when he is lifted up on the cross,
he will draw all people to himself.
This is his "Hour of Glory".

Perhaps we may need to evaluate our own
"Hours of Glory". The high points of our lives
may not be the moments we think of as our
greatest achievements when we enjoy
the admiration of others.

God's glory is revealed in Jesus
through his self-giving love,
his suffering and his death;
it may be God's glory is sometimes revealed
in our lives through times of difficulty
when we have no sense of our own glory and success,
but simply entrust ourselves to his
loving purposes and grace.

This is not to say we should embrace suffering
for its own sake, but we should recognise there may be
times when a part of us, a project we are committed to,
an element of our "successful" life and
ministry has to "die" in order to produce real fruit.

Jesus' illustration of the seed dying in the earth
does not refer only to himself.
As his disciples, we too are urged not
to cling to our lives, our achievements,
our glory, but to spend ourselves in costly
self-giving love as he did.

Then, even though we may not receive
recognition or acclaim, our lives will be
fruitful and God's glory
will be revealed in us too.



To Summarise

We often use the term "Hour of Glory"
for a moment of success and
recognition by others;
Jesus' "hour of glory" is different.
Jesus' "Hour of Glory" is not the moment when
his popularly acclaims him as king,
but the moment of his suffering and death.
Jesus does not seek suffering for its own sake,
but he recognises that his death will be
fruitful and reveal God's glory.
The high points of our lives may not be
the times of success and popularity;
our lives may be most fruitful
when we "die" to our own achievements
and desires for success and spend
ourselves in love as Jesus did.



Our Blessing


We are called to be the rich soil
for the growth of God's kingdom,
may we hear our call to die,
to nourish, to grow and to flourish

And the blessing.......


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