There’s lots of ways you can make your point about something important. Blogging, web pages and printed media have their place but they don’t grab everyone’s attention. The old adage – actions speak louder than words – still holds true. After all, you can’t really avoid something you see with your own eyes and experience with your own emotions.
Palm Sunday paints a very vivid picture of Jesus’ arrival. His entry into the city involves much more than entering Jerusalem to make a point at the Passover festival. In a very special and significant way, Jesus comes into the hearts and lives of us all as He completes the work He had been sent to do.
Patience is a virtue. Try saying that to yourself when you’re desperate for something to happen or if you want to escape from circumstances where you’re not able to thrive. As the light at the end of the tunnel recedes, it can seem as if the light in your life is being extinguished as well.
Joseph made sound choices following his involuntary change of circumstances. Instead of catapulting him into a comfortable future, those choices drove him into prison on the back of another’s lies. Even there, so far away from family and the new life he had carved out for himself, God had not abandoned Joseph. All he had to do was to wait and to take advantage of the opportunities God provided.
When we’re confronted by something that challenges our understanding of the world – some revolutionary new thinking, for example – we don’t always take everything in right away. Quite apart from working out whether it’s an acceptable and necessary change, it takes time to grasp new ideas or even fresh understandings of things we’ve been used to.
There’s no real substitute for experience, whether it’s reflecting on the tried and tested or the discoveries that come from working with something new, learning as you go along. Discipleship, the building block of the church, is a good example of this: we grow through what we have experienced and, in being open to the leading of God’s Spirit, are invited to embrace the unfolding vision God has for His church.
Many of us will find ourselves in a position of responsibility at one time or another. Whatever the outcome of those circumstances, there’s a couple of things common to all such events. To be responsible is to be in a place of trust, where you also set a clear example to those around you.
Trust is particularly fragile. It’s tough to get hold of but easy to lose. One small slip, seemingly unconnected to the real matter in hand paints a picture and our good example is blown out of the water It’s bad enough – and very embarrassing when something has happened, far tougher when we – like Joseph – find ourselves at the rough end of some devious power play, where lies are far more interesting than the truth.
What happens though when our estimate of the worth of things or people assumes too great a stage? How do we ensure that our appreciation of God’s world doesn’t supplant our appreciation and love of God Himself?
It seems as if Jesus sets the bar so high such that it can appear almost impossible for us to enter God’s Kingdom. The danger here, though, is that we can all too easily view this Kingdom from our own point of view. It isn’t a physical entity but a spiritual reign, one which reflects the rule of a King producing an intentional response in action and attitude in the life of His followers.
If we have the means and the opportunity, what is there to stop us doing exactly what we want? Surely, experiencing everything this world has to offer is our route to self understanding and fulfilment?
This particular "take" on life has been one expression of personal morality throughout human history. It was the Greeks who popularised the "eat, drink and be merry" culture (anything goes), way before the materialism of twentieth century but then, as now, the consequences of such behaviour are often ignored or overlooked.
Actions have consequences. The way we chose to satisfy our desires is rarely value and impact free - it can, on occasion, be very destructive indeed.
Some things stick in our memories. It might be something really wonderful you’re happy to look back on (and even relive) with great fondness but, on the other hand, it might be an event or even a person you’d gladly forget … if only you could.
Over 30 years on, Peter could look back to an event that had really gripped him and which he couldn’t stop talking about (2 Peter 1: 16 – 18). He’d experienced something unique, an event so powerful and an engagement so profound that he didn’t really appreciate – nor did he understand – what was going on around him. All he knew was that he was in the presence of God.
Jesus' journey to the cross recognises His total commitment to the mission God had given Him. But, there’s more to this journey than simply keeping on to the end of the road. Here, now, before he’s even taken his first steps on the path to death, glory and hope, He is filled with God’s power and confirmed in his status (Mark 9:7).
Being on the outside, when you’d rather be part of the group, is a lonely place to be.
Jacob’s behaviour, which reflects his characteristic suspicion of everyone around him, has sown the seeds for the disaster which follows. Joseph follows his Father’s instructions to the letter, provoking a response from his already embittered brothers. Their initial reaction suggests intense hatred of the spoilt teenager, perhaps allied to a guilty conscience for something they HAD been doing and which they wanted to hide from their Father.
Whose shoes would you like to be in now? When we don’t take our responsibility towards God and others seriously enough, it can result in attitudes and behaviour that increase the damage, rather than healing old wounds.
There’s never a good day to bury bad news. Sooner or later we will have to face up to the facts and the potential consequences outcomes. Knowing what’s going on can even help us to come to terms with what’s happening.
It must have been tough for Jesus’ disciples to hear at first hand that their next journey would be Jesus’ last. However much Peter tried to talk it down, the inescapable fact remained: Jesus life would soon be over but, at the same time, His mission would be completed.
The real issue for them (and us) is one of conviction: do we believe enough to follow Him on the road, carrying our cross in the process?
Magnuss Magnusson’s famous words “I’ve started, so I’ll finish” give us a starter for 10 as a description of Christian Discipleship.
It’s no good thinking that everything will fall into place without any effort on our part. Yes, we have an example to follow but unless we are prepared to roll up our sleeves and get involved, then we can only ever grasp a part of God’s plan. Staying connected and being obedient to God’s guidelines will not tie us up but will release us into real freedom.