What we are doing is scandalous, but we do have good coffee and cake
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 24 March 2019
40 Blogs of Lent: 17
If it were not for the wind chill it would have been almost like a summer’s day with a bright sunlight and clear blue skies. Not bad for early spring. Also we had cake. I was also told after the service that our church has good coffee, I like many others. Church this morning was good.
I was in the worship band, reduced on this occasion to a trio and I was on percussion, although due to lack of time to set up I had half my usual number of cymbals. Downstairs the church was full, so having not reserved myself a seat and my wife on the coffee rota I worshipped from the balcony when not playing. We finished the service with a rousing rendition of Be Thou my Vision, with me attempting to capture the Celtic flavour of the air on bodhrán.
This Lent our service themes are on aspects of the cross, the service built around the passage in Mark chapter 8 where Jesus tells that he is going to be executed, and tells his followers they must take up their own cross and follow him.
An aside here, not from the service: I have found that sooner or later if we follow Jesus welcome to our own Gethsemane, the point where we must reevaluate what we are doing and commit ourselves afresh to follow Jesus through the dark times in our lives. I have had several of these moments in my life. Aside over, Back to the service.
Vicar Mike was back from his operation, visibly limping in those parts of the service he was active in, and leaning on walls or door frames after the service for extra support. His wife, Sofia, a lay reader, preached.
We often forget that the cross is scandalous, Sofia began, we may as well wear an image of a gallows or electric chair around our necks as a golden cross. When Jesus told us that we had to take up our cross and follow him he was inviting us to share in his death and resurrection. Yes there is to be resurrection, but to experience it, to be alive in Jesus we must die to ourselves. We have to choose to take up our own cross.
Jesus did not come with a battle plan to defeat Rome, he came with the cross in mind, he came to die for the world and to show how we must live. Our cross, the one we must take up, is a place of execution. We are invited to die with Jrsus and rise with him. To carry our own cross is a way to freedom, God’s grace demands everything to those who receive it.
Baptism is a sign of death and resurrection, when we go down into the water we die and when we come up again we are given a new life where Jesus is the centre. We cannot overcome the power of sin and death in our lives, only Jesus can do that. We become one with Jesus, dead to ourselves but alive in him. Paul, in the letter to the Galatians said, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”
Our human desire is to protect ourselves. We must deny our own will and follow God’s will. It means loving your enemies and putting up with annoying people. It is to become free from ourselves and live for him. On the cross Jesus won victory over sin. Our sin. When he walks with is through the valley of the shadow of death that is our darkness we find comfort in our dark places.
Doing the will of God may bring us ridicule. To stand up for the poor and against moral decay will seem odd to those who don’t know God.
Before each service there is a time of prayer, which I was not at. But we were told that during that prayer time someone had a picture of someone kneeling down at the foot of the cross then getting up and standing straight no longer bowed low in suffering. I ask you to pause and think about that, and if you wish to, picture the cross of Jesus and bow down there together with me.