Tag Archives: Scripture

A week of funerals

05-22-2008-13-47-31-753@a6c49f3a79a743fd853d85d7cec0fdacThis past week we attended the funeral of Aunt Dorothy. She isn’t really my aunt, not a sister to any relative, but has been my Mom’s best friend for over 60 years so she’s been like an aunt.

Pictured here is Uncle Ted and my Dad in a picture from…well the 1950’s! They were stationed together in Winnipeg after Training College and got along so well they were friends until Uncle Ted passed away, just a year before my Dad did. Our paths crossed with the Browns in many ways over the years and strangely enough both of their daughters have worked for me. Their son Ted has been a life long friend though we see little of each other these days.

Attending funerals is an interesting activity. I find myself joyful to see friends and family who we rarely see and reminded of why we are together. Of course, the Christian also rejoices if their friends have been people of faith and we know “they are safe in the arms of Jesus”. That saying seemed so corny to me as a kid, but with age comes the recognition of truth and that is one that really resonates.  The other aspect of funeral attendance is listening to people talk about who has died – in this case, listening to family and friends talk about the impact Aunt Dorothy has had on them.

I think many of us are sitting there asking ourselves, if this was my funeral, what would people say? It’s a time, to be honest with self and before God. Without a doubt living brings about some regret, some reason for rejoicing and some sense of question – how did I do?  That’s why the Scripture is so reassuring with the promise of forgiveness, and eternal welcome – “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

So if I seem more retrospect these days I may be thinking about my own life. What about you?

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Doubt isn’t fatal

I’ve been thinking about doubt. I’ve been thinking about the limitations of our faith and what does that mean. If I can’t imagine God’s ability to do something, to act in a particular way or change what appears to be unchangeable, does that mean I doubt?

I think it is interesting that one of the disciples doubted. He wasn’t there when the risen Lord showed up and so he spoke out his doubt. It wasn’t his words that made him a doubter, it was the gap between what he knew and what others were saying. The fact that the other disciples said they had seen the risen Jesus only caused Thomas to say I want to see it to believe it.

I suspect most of us have had our own version of such a saying.

When I was in my 20’s I was wondering if we were making the right decision and it was a big decision. I had my doubts and they flew in the face of what was a very strong “word from the Lord”. I had no reason to doubt but my fear meant I was faced with increasing my faith. So I was worried and I think worry can be seen by some as doubt.

Then one day I ended up meeting a man. I had never seen or met him before I never met or saw him again. But he knew what I was wrestling with and spoke to me in a way that, well I can’t explain, except to say he squashed my doubt and encouraged me to believe and then he was gone. Yup, gone.

He walked into a crowd of people and “disappeared”. I can’t even remember his name.

He challenged me to believe, though. In a sense, he challenged my worry, my doubt. I didn’t give him any details yet he knew them all.

Thomas was invited to put his finger in the very marks of Christ’s crucifixion and beliScreenshot_20170216-211731eve.Sometimes we preach on Thomas like he’s the one who doesn’t measure up to Peter, James, and John
Yet in many ways, we are more like Thomas than Peter, James or John. We hesitate to believe, we await the personal revelation rather than grab on to the testimony of others and we let our fears play with our hearts.

The Centurion who believed that Jesus healed his servant though he had not seen brought the reaction from Jesus – “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”

Let it be true of us.

Matthew 8:5-13

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west,and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

 

 

Preparing for Easter

Wendy and I are going to be in the Halifax area for Easter – guests of the city officers – so I have been pouring over the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John listening to the writers, noticing their context, trying to smell the aroma, sensing the emotions, attempting to detect the fear, the tension, the courage.

Here’s my challenge to you – can you read it afresh? Can you approach it like you have never heard it before? What do you notice?

Here’s a line I think I had not quite heard well before….

18 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
“Jesus the Nazarene,”they replied.
I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground…  (John 18:1-6)

I’ve read that dozens of times and I can’t ever remember noticing that they drew back and fell to the ground….imagine up to 200 Roman soldiers with the Jews coming with torches, lanterns and weapons falling down after Jesus declares that He is the I AM.

It is as if Jesus has to coax them in to following through on the arrest. What happened there? What force was at work that created a physical response?

I remember a few years ago I was sitting in a service….it was likely many other ones, the music was good, it was comfortable….I was sitting on the aisle when suddenly I felt a warm breeze pass us. It was so powerful I turned and asked Wendy if she had felt it? She said she had…within minutes people got out of their seats and went and kneeled at the mercy seat. Not a few – many. Dozens and dozens of people, many of whom had not done so for a long time. The service took on a life of it’s own, not directed by an order of service, but directed by The Holy Spirit.

A spiritual happening invoked a physical response.

Here the Spirit of God is visiting – perhaps to strengthen Jesus, perhaps a mere mention of the I AM. Whatever is at play, it is an act of God. Jesus submission to the will of His Father has power.

So too ours, when we submit we begin to understand “my strength is made perfect in weakness”.

Perhaps our preparing for Easter really only requires one thing. Submission.