Reflection from John on this morning’s service

Palm2

When we watched the clip from the Miracle Maker, what struck me was the contrast between the colourful and jolly bunch of folk around the man on the donkey and the grey walls of Jerusalem, with armour-clad Roman soldiers glowering down.

A bunch of nobodies and a guy on a donkey, of all things, contrasted with the best military defences of the time, and soldiers from a world-dominating army.

And yet who was strongest? It reminded me of the upside-down nature of the kingdom – true power rests in King Jesus who calls us not to seek power, but to find greatness in powerlessness, humility, and service.

I was struck by the fact that when a wee boy in the front row at church this morning brought up his breakfast, folk went forward to help – some comforting the lad, some reassuring the mum and her other kids, some clearing up the mess. That is service, that is humility – that is behaviour which speaks of grace.

And then, reading the passage for today I was struck by the sad bit at the end:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’ (Luke 19:41-44)

Things would have been different for the future of the city if somehow its inhabitants had been able to recognise that God had come among them, hidden in plain sight.

Does Jesus weep over Inverness today?  Jesus offers each of us peace, healing, wholeness, forgiveness, yet often we fail to see that he is our answer. The reality of Jesus is hidden in plain sight in the Bible, hidden in the beauty of creation (those very stones which will ‘cry out’ – v40), hidden in every expression of love and empathy, hidden in the lives of his disciples. And yet we live as though this were not enough and look for more. But he is our peace.

Duncan said they’d thought about getting a real donkey to church today, but had found that hard to organise, and so borrowed a model instead.

(There would have been a lot more floor-washing this morning had Plan A worked!)

But I wonder whether the Jesus we have in mind is the real Jesus, strong and good, loving, at times fierce, a Christ with a cosmic reach – or a mental model of Jesus, a Jesus we feel has no particular relevance to our everyday lives, a Jesus in whom we have no confidence?

He is our peace – and he will not let us down. ‘Father God, help me to see the real Jesus. Let him not be hidden from my sight, because I know he alone is the only answer to my questions and my need. Open my eyes to him.  May his reality erupt from within my poor, threadbare image of him so that the image is shattered and I see him as he is.’

I’ve used a poetic picture of course – Jesus will show himself to us in different ways, according to our personalities, and to different extents. Jesus will self-reveal to one person in wrestling with Scripture; to another is talking to a friend; to a third in deep, contemplative prayer; to yet another in poetry or music. The important thing is to be open to him where he speaks.

For this is the time of God’s coming to us. May it also be the time of our coming to him.

As we came in this morning, we were each given a piece of paper representing a palm branch. Each of us in invited to wave the palm, to join in the worship. But from that piece of paper, we later made a cross. For we are called to walk with Jesus through Easter week, in faithful following and bearing a cross, dying the deaths we are given to die and rising with Christ into the joy of Easter Sunday.

This pattern is to be the pattern of each of each day, each week, each month, each year, and finally the pattern of our lives as a whole until we reach the point of the final and greatest death, the final and greatest resurrection.

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