Good Friday – 2015 Recap

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good friday slide INTRO with cross

  1. good friday slide PEACEMAKINGPEACEMAKING:
  • Jesus was a peacemaker.
  • During Jesus’ time on earth He proclaimed strange things like “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” And “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” Such impossible words to live out. But on the cross, so near death we see this act of peacemaking being lived out by Jesus.

Mark 15:25-32

25-30 They nailed [Jesus] up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—the king of the jews—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

31-32 The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—but he can’t save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then!” Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.

Luke 23:34

34-35 Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”

  • We seek to be Peacemakers because we follow the Peacemaker who was crucified. In the face of that persecution “He Forgave His Enemies” without mumbling even one word of judgment or scorn against those that had come to see him die.
  1. good friday slide SERVANTHOODSERVANTHOOD:
  • The message posted above Jesus’ head read “King…” and although it was used ironically, it was in fact an accurate title for Jesus.
  • The problem was that Jesus was a new kind of King that was hard to recognize. He was a Servant King. A King that put other’s needs in front of his own. Jesus emphasised this servanthood when he washed his followers feet, and told them to do the same.
  • Jesus didn’t say a lot on the cross, so the few words he did say are so important to understanding the core of what Jesus is about.

John 19:25-27

24-27 While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

  • Even on the cross, Jesus showed the heart of a servant, by taking care of those around him.
  1. good friday slide SOLIDARITY.SOLIDARITY:
  • Humanity was and is on a crash course for destruction. We have messed up our lives, our relationships and our world in every conceivable way imaginable. We our masters of injustice and our own worst enemies.
  • In the midst of this God decides to become human, and lived in Solidarity with us. Our pain became His pain, our consequences His consequences, and ultimately our death sentence became His death sentence.

Mark 15:33-39

33-34 At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

35-36 Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

37-39 But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

  • The Solidarity of the cross became so intense that Jesus’ Humanity could no longer perceive that part of the Trinity that is God the Father, God the loving Creator and God the Sustainer.
  • “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” was screamed out by God himself in the form of human flesh. And as the rest of us humans look back at this moment, we can say “My God, My God, you died in Solidarity with me. You took on my pain, my wrong doings and my guilt and you claimed me as your own child.
  • With the death of Jesus, God the Son, the act of Solidarity was complete. God’s Story and Humanity’s Story were now one and the same.

good friday slide TREE PHOTO

 Credits:
All scripture quotes taken from The Message Translation.
Text by Randell Neudorf
Tree Photo by Jennifer Kellner
Video & Photos of Good Friday taken by Susan S.

 

 

The Giver & The Mennonite Preoccupation with War

giver_ver5_xlg Last night I watched “The Giver” movie with my kids who are 10 and 12 year old. It was great, all three of us highly recommend it. I had already read the book years ago and must admit that I was a little disappointed with the ambiguous ending but thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I know that is a little bit low brow of me to say but every so often there is a movie that is better suited to the story then the book. This was one of the times.

Without giving away too much (spoiler alert for those who are super picky), the idea is that this futuristic community has given up all extremes. They have no memory of love or hate, excitement or fear. There is no war (not even the memory of war) but the main meryl-streep-the-giver-lgcharacter Jonas discovers that his society hasn’t eliminated killing.  The old, the week, and the non conformist are said to move on to “elsewhere” but really they are euthanized in a medical facility. Jonas says something to the effect of “They haven’t gotten rid of killing they have just brought the killing home.” This idea or the memory of war really hit me. It got me thinking of when I first became a Mennonite.

Hanging out with long time Mennonites was a little strange at first. I couldn’t understand why these peace loving people spent so much time talking about war. I have been in church circles my whole life and I have never been in a church tradition that spends so much time The-Giver-121obsessing over war. I remember being at a Mennonite Church planting conference and commenting on this to someone. They were really surprised to learn that in my experience the topic of war didn’t come up as often in the other churches I had been apart of (these are churches that would say that sometimes war is a necessary path to justice). For the longest time I thought the Mennonite preoccupation with war was negative and unhealthy, but I’m starting to see this phenomena through the eyes of “The Giver.”

It is the unspoken violence that holds power over us. When we don’t speak of war, and violence we allow an unspoken vote of approval to take shape. Just like the people in the movie “brought the killing home,” giver_ver8_xlgthrough their unspoken convenience, The Giver (like all good science fiction) prods us to think about our own unspoken support of violence.

Perhaps the Mennonite preoccupation with war is not so unhealthy after all. Perhaps focusing on the realities of war, hate, and violence are the keys to unlocking the very real possibilities of peace, love, and creativity.

Good Friday Gathering – April 3rd at 10am

good Fri - April 3rd poster copyEvery year The Commons takes time on Good Friday to reflect on the death of Jesus. This year those reflections will be focusing on how we as followers of Jesus strangely find our identity in the death of the one we follow. It is in that strange identity that we learn about Peacemaking, Servanthood, and Solidarity.

Consider Practicing Lent

Prayer_of_Jesus_in_Gethsamane_with_Eleven_Apostles_Greek_iconJust a reminder that Lent begins this week on Wed Feb 18th.

Lent isn’t a command found in the Bible, it is a Spiritual Practice that some followers of Jesus have found useful as part of their spiritual journey.

I would encourage you to give some thought today about if you want to participate in Lent, and what that might look like for you.
There is lots of resources online that talk about Lent, but the basic idea of Lent is to set aside the next 40 days to get ready for Easter, by creating space to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is a way for us to be in Solidarity with Jesus as we think about the sacrifice he made on the Cross.

Some people decide to fast from something, some people decide to take something extra on, and others do a little of both.

For fasting you could decide to give something up that you like (coffee, chocolate, TV, facebook, meat, sugar, etc…). Because you have given up something that is a regular part of your life, as you miss or crave that coffee, you are reminded that Easter is coming, and are given multiple small opportunities each day to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I find it helpful to not fast on Sundays so that there is a rhythm of fasting and feasting over lent. I’m giving up coffee this year, so all week as I want my coffee, my fast is tied into thoughts of the Sacrifice on Good Friday, but on Sundays I will feast and be sure to have my coffee, and that ritual of breaking my fast will be tied into thoughts of Resurrection, Easter, the Sabbath Rest.

One last thought on fasting, I think it is healthy to only fast from something that is essentially a good thing to keep in your life long term. What I mean by this is that I don’t think it is healthy to use a Lent Fast as a way to diet, or quit smoking. Lent is a season and we are giving up something as a sacrifice, that we can then take up again in our feasting. Trying to improve your diet or stop a destructive habit are good things but I think they are something different than Lent.

For taking something extra on, there are lots of good ideas. Here are some things that I’ve heard other people have tried:

  • Try a Spiritual Practice (lectio divina, sabbath, breath prayer, etc…). talk to anyone who has been part of the Supper Club for ideas.
  • Set aside a time to read your Bible or another book that will help you learn something about God.
  • Write Letters. I know someone who last year wrote a hand written letter and mailed it each day to a different friend or family member.
  • Volunteer your time.
  • Learn a skill, take a class.

What ever you decide, be intentional, anything you take on needs a plan, if you haven’t set aside a time/place for the activity you have taken on it most likely isn’t going to happen. In some ways taking something on is also a fast, you are fasting from the time you would have used to do something else.

Lastly, I think it is very important to not lose hope. If you find 2 weeks from now that things aren’t going as you planned (your fast is too hard, you haven’t been consistent with what you took on, etc…) don’t despair, use the reminder of your imperfection to think about how we need God’s grace in all things. Perhaps you need to modify your fast or you need to rearrange your time/routine to be more supportive of what you are trying to do. It is OK to acknowledge to God that something is hard. Jesus did exactly that shortly before his death when he prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.But do what you want, and not what I want.” (Matt 26:39 CEV).

All that being said, give some thought to Lent today and see if you can find a way to be in Solidarity with Jesus as we move towards the season of the Cross.