An offering … not an Execution!!

Today Maundy Thursday, I offer an extract from Scott Hahn which I mentioned previously in The New Covenant – sealed with the blood of the Lamb.

It is a timely reminder that in focusing on the sacrificial part of the passion of Jesus as if it was a sacrifice willed by God,  we forget the free ‘offering’.  Scott Hahn puts it  so eloquently :

At our remove of two thousand years, it seems natural for us to look upon Jesus’ crucifixion as a sacrifice.  Christians are heirs to a long tradition of talking that way, praying that way, thinking that way.  But first century Jews who witnessed the event would not and could not have seen the crucifixion as a sacrifice.  It bore none of the marks of a sacrifice in the ancient world. On Calvary there was no altar and no credentialed priest.  There was indeed a death, but it took place apart from the Temple, which was the only valid place of sacrifice in Judaism, and even outside the walls of the holy city.

St Paul, however, made the connections for his generation and especially for his fellow Jews.  In first Corinthians, after introducing the word of the cross (1.18) he calls Christ “our paschal lamb” who “has been sacrificed” (5.7).  Thus he makes the connection between the Passover celebrated as the Last Supper and the crucifixion on Calvary.

Indeed, it was that first Eucharist that transformed Jesus’ death from an execution to AN OFFERING.  At the Last supper he GAVE his body to be broken, his blood to be poured out, as if on an altar.

As Paul retold the story of the Last Supper (1 Corinthians  11:23-25)  he spoke of the event in sacrificial terms.  He quotes Jesus as calling it “the new covenant in my blood”, an evocation of Moses words as he made a sacrificial offering of oxen: “Behold (the blood of the covenant” (Exodus 24.8).  It was the sacrificial blood that ratified the covenant, because Moses said so, in one instance, and because Jesus said so in the other.  

Opening paras in Foreword by Scott Hahn in “JESUS and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper”  – Brant Pitre

Sealed by the blood of the Lamb

Sealed with the blood of the Lamb

Today, Maundy Thursday,  the words ‘sealed with the blood of the Lamb’ takes on a new meaning – not as a sacrifice willed by a merciless God who wanted a scapegoat offering, but as blood willingly shed to seal the new covenant of love and reconciliation between God and man.

LOVE transforms suffering into sacrifice!!

Picture Credit: Internet.  Origin or copyright unknown.

 

Advertisements

God, FB … and me 😇

Funny I did not realise my Creator could be talking to me through FB😱 that is one hell of a thought… or one heaven of a thought😍 ….but when you think about it … why not? Here’s how it happened.

Only yesterday I looked at my Cherry blossom tree which is just bursting into flower and asked God “Please,  can you let me keep this tree without it toppling over.  I know it seems foolhardy,  but I really love these flowers. So ,  should I cut it or trust you to hold it up for me? I can trim it a bit more maybe …? ”   and I left my conversation open ended. I thought that I would have to take a decision soon.

I should explain that the tree next to it –  an older and  much more solid Ficus of double the girth  – came crashing down in heavy rains in November 2017.  We usually park our cars beneath them, but that evening a guardian angel nudged my brother to step out in the down-pour and move both cars further up the road to where there were no trees.   He had hardly returned when he heard a prolonged creaking sound … and whilst he watched, the Ficus slowly and carefully pulled away from its roots and fell right across the road. 

Writing this I realise,  why oh why did I  not see before that the tree,  guided by its Creator,  was gently untangling its roots to keep the boundary wall (which was just one foot away)  intact?   We all said it was a miracle but the more I think of it the more it astounds me.  You will see from the pictures below how close the tree was to the boundary wall and the house- and how huge!!  And yet it fell without even an inch of damage!!

wp 2017-11-30 007

Roots gently untangled to save boundary wall

wp 2017-11-30 035

The Girth. Had to be split in two to be hauled away. A part still remains.

wp 36 ft 2017-11-30 013

Spanned a 40 ft road without downing high voltage wires!!.

And the connection between God and FB ?

Well after I whispered the prayer for my tree yesterday,  FB reminds me today about a post written three years ago to the very day : –  a post I had totally forgotten about titled Earth’s crammed with heaven and referring to – you guessed it – my Cherry Blossom tree.

And what is so uncanny is that FB never EVER has reminded me of posts on my WordPress blog,  but “chose” to remind me of this less than 24 hours after my whispered my prayer/question to God.

I had trimmed  the branches when brother Ficus came down as ‘Sherry’ was more exposed to heavy gusts but was still not sure if to take her down completely   ?

So through FB’s reminder  – incredible as it sounds – I believe God was reminding me that Sherry had been saved before and I should not worry.   I believe I can now keep her around some more to give glory to her Maker with the most beautiful and fragile of flowers that makes your heart sing.

Indeed as Elizabeth Barrett Browning  wrote ..  “Earth’s is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God.”   

Betrayed by more than a kiss.

Betrayed

Betrayed   … shouts out from the roofs, the hill tops and vales today.

Betrayed with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver.  Open, upfront  pre-meditated, caving into confusion.  Misled.  Then despair.  30 pieces betrayal price and then burial price.

Betrayed – let’s not stick around to see what happens.  Let’s flee.   Then in guilt and shame they meet again; strength in numbers and strengthened in Spirit they go out. Then they make things happen.

Betrayed – One stayed close but the coals were too hot:  ‘I know not the man’.  Fear confusion … an unplanned fall.  Then weeping, remorse and gathering of resolve.  Never again to fall.

Betrayed – self righteous arrogance, fearing a change in status quo points to a ‘blasphemer’.  Then smug satisfaction at having ‘saved’ the nation.

Betrayed – a conscience niggles, this man is innocent.  Then expediency prevails – washing of hands.  I won’t do it – do it yourself.  A good man caves in.  Archetypal politician.  He could have stopped it.

Betrayed – miracles, healing, words of wisdom and saving grace  – yet no one springs to his defence. Did they return to Him?  The Books are silent.

Friend, disciple, leader, high priest, ruler, beneficiary of uncountable grace – I see myself in all of them.   But I have the benefit of hindsight – of a Resurrection,  a Pentecost and a 2000+year old faith.   Despite this …. it continues ….

Betrayed – unless I take the road less travelled; The road, the Way of the Cross.

Posted in response to Daily Prompt, Betrayed

Image Credit: http://truthbook.com/urantia-book/paper-183-the-betrayal-and-arrest-of-jesus

The night of love ….

Love one another

Image Credit : http://freefaithgraphics.com/2015/01/love-one-another/

that final night of Jesus’s life on earth – as he prepared to bid farewell to his friends.  He knew that on the morrow, their grief and loss at the loss of their Master, ‘Rabboni’,  would be compounded by fear and confusion;  their world – which began with a triumphant entry into Jerusalem just five days previously, would come tumbling down.

How can he console them, comfort them, give them hope that all is not lost.   How can he assure them of His love for them and the Father’s love ?

How would you say farewell to friends and family if you know you are going to die the next day ?

I’d like to share a previous post on the words of love that kept pouring out of Our Lord as he gazed on his disciples gathered around him in person for the last time.    Please click on the link which shares how our Master bid farewell to his friends,  and his instructions and guidance to us.

Can you feel the love tonight 

 

When the curtain falls for the last time …

At the height of my professional career, I came across a verse by an unknown author that had a profound impact on me.   The verse that I typed and pinned onto my bedroom door has long since withered, but I came across a copy today which I would like to share.

I am often dramatic

I think it was perhaps it was this daily reminder of   Continue reading

The New Covenant – sealed with the blood of the Lamb

I’ve searched long for answers to the explanation of the Cross being a bloody and brutal sacrifice of the Son, willed by a merciless Father.  I’ve pondered on it, questioned it, written about it  (see post “Why the Cross and Postscript;  “Paradox of the Cross and Christian freedom“) and prayed about it.

I have read and reflected before … and recognised the parallel between the old Passover and the new viz post : “Can you feel the love tonight“_ but these words I read today answered so many questions I had on ‘The Cross?”,  because it started from a point that I was and took me through to this one statement that was like an eureka moment of greater clarity.

Here is what I read : Continue reading

At Calvary …

The years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

    • Refrain:
      Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
      Pardon there was multiplied to me;
      There my burdened soul found liberty
      At Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

God Incarnate : The Mystery beyond Words

My response to an Essay Question “The incarnation of the Son of God and the problems that this doctrine has given to Christian believers and thinkers.”  in a Christology Classroom Exam, First Year, Degree in Theology.   The links have been added for this post. 

Extract Exam paper Christology

Extract – Answer Script

The historical fact of the birth and death of a man called Jesus Christ who entered history just over 2000 years ago – and changed its course so that the Western World counts time from his death – is not a matter of great dispute.

Neither is there any great dispute that this man was a preacher and moral teacher par excellence.  Even detractors of his time granted that he worked miracles and wondrous signs and healed persons, cast out evil spirits and performed many wonders.   The biggest problem was however the fact that he claimed to be the Son of God and that his followers believed him.

Continue reading

Following Immanuel …

Another Christmas season will soon end.

With great nostalgia and sentiment we recalled the birth in Bethlehem.  We set up mini stables within our churches complete with statues of cattle and oxen and wise men.  For the twelve days of Christmas the baby Jesus lies in a manger to remind us of the Christmas story.

Epiphany – the visit of the Wise Men to the manger – is the official close of the Christmas season.  The decorations are taken down, the tree is packed, and the statues and the Baby Jesus wrapped in newspaper or bubble wrap and put away. We return to the Ordinary Time in the liturgical year whilst in our worship Jesus returns to the Tabernacle.

It often seems to me we are missing something. Something does not seem to fit.  

The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us – ” (John 1.14)

The Lord of all exchanged his glory above for humble surroundings. God desired to live amongst us – not in splendid isolation in the heavens. He did not even, in a sense, remain in the Holy of Holies – the Sanctum in the  temple at Jerusalem built according to His own decree for the Ark of the Covenant.

With the Incarnation, the glory of God -The Shekinah – now resides in Jesus Christ who walked amongst his people.

He had no fixed dwelling place – “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests,  but the son of Man has no place to lay his head” was Jesus’ response to the rich young man. (Luke 9.57).  The message is clear. If you wish to follow Him, you would find Him amongst his people.

Yet ironically we seem determined to put God back where we think He belongs – in cathedrals and temple  edifices. The wise men found him amidst his family and Creation;  Shepherds heeded the call to go to the manger.   We seek Him in buildings of stone.

I do not deny our need for sacred places, sacred spaces, to help us transcend our secular world.  Yet is there a vague possibility that we build our churches to satisfy OUR needs, rather than for the glory of God – the God  who gave up all grandeur  to get his feet dirty and walk amongst us?

As we put away the statue of Baby Jesus  carefully protected with bubble wrap until next year,  let us also not lock Him up in a box in a church.  Rather let us  go out and find him amongst this people  – for he dwells amongst us still.

Foxes have holes ... but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head

No Crib for a bed

Credit : https://manyalaphotography.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-son-of-man/#comment-158