Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Julian Albrow, Telephone (01392) 255791
Friends, we are now in the Holy season of Lent and fast approaching Easter. To help us do so a few thoughts about the events of Holy Week.
Palm Sunday. And when he had entered Jerusalem, all the city was moved saying ‘Who is this?’ Matthew 21:10. For much of the ministry of Jesus, His Messiahship was kept incognito. Often Jesus would act quietly, without the wish for publicity. But on Palm Sunday Jesus came out in the open. This procession was carefully planned to be peaceful, hence Jesus entering the city on a donkey! However, it was meek but at the same time majestic. All the symbols of the Prince of Peace were there-the colt of a donkey, banners of palm, the garments strewn in his royal way, Hosanna, was shouted, (God save the King!). It was Messianic: It was Kingdom time: God had visited His people! The prophecy of Zechariah fulfilled (Zech 9: 9). It was provocative yet prevailing. It challenged the establishment; yet seemed destined to fail. Within a week the shouts of ‘hosanna’ are replaced with cries of ‘crucify!’ There was bribery, misrepresentation and political ‘wheeling and dealing’. The scheming high priest, Caiaphas, was busy preparing for Jesus to be made their scapegoat. ‘It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation lives’ (John 11:50). Caiaphas spoke far more truly than he knew!
Good Friday. Why did Jesus have to die? Theologians have searched for illustrations to make sense of it all. Some have dwelt on sacrifice, some on substitution, some with the battle of sin, while others have seen the cross as a divine demonstration of love. We can wrestle with the meaning of ‘ransom’ and ‘propitiation’, but I invite you to look at the children’s hymn; ‘There is a green hill far away’, described by Dr Leslie Weatherhead as ‘The most profound statement of the Atonement ever made’. It was written for the children of the walled city of Londonderry, the scene of much bloodshed. Outside the city was a green hill, well known to the children. Mrs Alexander wanted to make the hill of Calvary, though far away, as real to the children as possible, she wanted to make the sacrifice of Jesus significant in their daily lives. She wanted to make it personal, after all to say ‘Christ died for me’ is the deepest expression of one’s faith.
Easter Sunday. Easter was, and is, a timeless event. Christ is gloriously risen. The great Dr Dale was preparing to deliver a scholarly sermon for Easter Day. While studying his text books he raced out of his study declaring ‘He is alive! Christ is risen!’ His eyes at that moment of realization were opened to the fact that at Easter broke out not only the tomb, but also from the barrier of time, itself. The risen Christ had shown himself not merely as a fact of history, but as an eternal fact! He decided he would no longer preach ponderously, and tediously present details of an event in history. He would present the risen Christ as alive, today! And with the congregation! It transformed Dr Dales preaching and well, the rest is history. Even now, as we attend the Easter service, Christ invites us to open our eyes to his risen presence and reach out to him in faith. I pray that the Holy Spirit may fall on us so we may accept with thankful hearts the benefits of His redeeming love.
God Bless, Julian