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‘Remember…!’

‘Remember…!’

Easter Day is truly a gala day when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. His resurrection underscores the validity of the Christian faith. Without it, we are lost.

That said, our Easter celebration raises interesting questions: ‘Why isn’t an empty tomb the symbol of Christianity?’ ‘Why is the symbol a cross?’ In today’s age when feelings and political correctness trump facts it would surely make much more sense if we focused on the themes of new life and hope that the resurrection symbolizes.

Yet, despite the fact that Jesus’ crucifixion was a bloody and brutal affair, the cross remains the symbol of the Christian faith.

In the opening scene of Luke’s ‘resurrection chapter’ we read: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body (Luke 24:1-3).

Despair. There was no joy in the hearts of those women that morning. They had watched Jesus die and now were grief-stricken and despairing. They had believed that he was God’s Messiah and were looking forward to a new age of justice and peace, of laughter, love and joy. Now, their only thought was to give his body a proper burial.

We can picture them trudging to the tomb in the gray light of dawn, burdened by their own thoughts and laden with heavy jars of oils and spices for the burial.

But that was not all: when they arrived at the grave, they saw that the huge stone closing the tomb had been rolled away. Was this some underhand action on the part of the authorities?

While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them… (24:4). They had despaired at Jesus’ death and now they were terrified: they could only bow their faces to the ground at the dazzling appearance of two angels. And when the angels spoke, the women were even more confused: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” ‘You’ve come to the wrong place.’

Remember! “Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise again…’” (Luke 24:6b-7a).

The angels could have explained the empty tomb. Instead, they told the women to remember what Jesus had said to them. The focus of Jesus’ words they quoted is important: ‘The Son of Man, the Messiah had to suffer and die and then rise again’. Suffering and death were essential to the work of God’s king.

In every age Jesus’ death has been an enigma – even for his first followers. Yet during the course of his ministry he had foreshadowed both it and his resurrection. Indeed, in his public ministry he revealed that he had not come as a political Messiah to bring in God’s kingdom through force.

Rather, he came as a savior to address our greatest need – our broken relationship with God. He alone could deliver us from God’s just judgement and open the doors of God’s new age.

This theme infuses Luke’s gospel. At Jesus’ birth the angel announced that God’s savior had been born. And when he met with Zacchaeus, Jesus summed up his ministry saying, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Furthermore, his words at the Last Supper are key to the meaning of his death: “This is my body given for you…”  “This is my blood shed for you…”  These words are amongst the oldest statements of Christianity. We find them in 1 Corinthians, written around 50AD, as well as in Matthew, Mark and Luke, which were written no later than the 60s.

In fact, when we read Luke as a whole we come to see that Jesus’ death is about God’s love and justice – central aspects of God’s character. Some say that Jesus’ crucifixion was a form of child abuse – a father punishing a son for someone else’s wrongs. But we need to remember Jesus’ words in John chapter 10, verse 18 where he said he would lay down his life voluntarily.

The movement of the Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). God, the wronged party, entered the world and bore the punishment that we wrong-doers deserve. God, as the judge, paid in full, once and for all time, the fine owed by the accused who have been found guilty.

Through ‘The Lord’s Supper’ or Communion’ in The Book of Common Prayer Thomas Cranmer taught and reminded us all of the significance of Jesus’ death with these words: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of your tender mercy gave your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.

When we understand that only God could provide the sacrifice needed to satisfy his perfect justice, Jesus’ words at his Last Supper touch our hearts and minds when we take the bread and drink of the cup. “This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me”, he said. After supper he said of the cup of wine that he passed around: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-21). It is no wonder that the cross, the instrument of Roman brutality, became, and remains today, the symbol of God’s extraordinary love for the world.

How we need to remember with true and grateful hearts the extraordinary gift that God has given us through the death and resurrection of his one and only Son, Christ Jesus.

A prayer. Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly living; give us grace so that we may always thankfully receive the immeasurable benefit of his sacrifice, and also daily endeavor to follow in the blessed steps of his most holy life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.  Amen.

© John G. Mason

Note: Material on Luke 24 is drawn from my commentary, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2019

‘Remember…!’

‘Christ is Risen…!’

In an article in The Spectator UK, Justin Brierley writes of ‘The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God’ (March 30, 2024). He notes that ‘the New Atheists of the early 2000s – led by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett’ – and their bestselling books have led to ‘confusion, a mental health crisis in the young and the culture wars’.

‘It’s not surprising then,’ he continues, ‘that a movement of New Theists has sprung up.’ He notes that ‘influencers such as Joe Rogan and Douglas Murray are increasingly talking about the value of Christian faith and the dangers of casting it off. The former new atheist Ayaarn Hirsi Ali has been praising the virtues of our Judeo-Christian heritage, after becoming convinced that secular humanism cannot save the West’.

Significantly, he comments that ‘Christianity is not just a useful lifeboat for stranded intellectuals. If it is not literally true, it isn’t valuable,’ he writes.

It’s imperative therefore, that we ask whether the account of Jesus’ resurrection is an invention. Life and death matters are at stake. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins, Paul the Apostle writes in First Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 17. If it’s true, it’s life changing. Our lives have meaning and hope.

The first witnesses. In the opening lines of chapter 20 of his Gospel, John records the events on the morning of the third day following Jesus’ crucifixion. Mary of Magdala, one of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb, ran back to tell Peter and John it was empty: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she said, “and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2).

Despite the testimony of women being considered unreliable and inadmissable in first century Judaism, women – as the other Gospels detail – were the first witnesses of the empty tomb. No Jewish writer would have written this if the account were fiction.

Furthermore, John’s own testimony rings true. He tells us that being younger he outran Peter, but he didn’t enter the tomb first. Peter did. Both saw the linen wrappings lying there and the linen cloth that had been around Jesus’ head… rolled up in another place. It was as though Jesus’ body had passed through the shroud which included some one hundred pounds weight of expensive myrrh and aloes (John 19:39) and the head covering had been discarded. It seemed that human hands had not removed the body. What did it mean?

John tells us he saw and believed (20:8), but neither he nor Peter understood it. Like Martha who had said to Jesus that she knew her brother Lazarus would rise from the dead on the last day (John 11:24), John seems to have reasoned that Jesus had gone to be with God the Father, as he had said (John 14:2-4). But neither John nor Peter understood what Jesus meant when he promised they would see him again, physically alive. We need to grasp this, for it underlines the unexpectedness and authenticity of what really happened.

Despair. We also need to appreciate how Jesus’ followers felt when they saw him strung up on a cross. For three years they’d been with him. They’d seen him turn water into wine, heal the sick, restore sight to a man born blind. They’d even watched when, standing at the entrance of a tomb, he called out to a man who had been dead for four days: “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). Furthermore, they’d heard him teach and outclass the smartest minds that sought to break him. They believed that he was the Son of God incarnate.

Then to their horror, they’d watched him die! They’d heard his prayer of forgiveness and his promise to the penitent insurrectionist (Luke 23:34-43). They’d also heard his victorious shout, “It is finished” – my work is done (John 19:30) – as he died.

Their minds were numb with the shock and horror that Jesus would die the worst of deaths the Romans had devised – for the slaves and the very worst of society. No wonder they hid behind locked doors.

Resurrection. Yet on the Sunday evening Jesus suddenly stood in the midst of his disciples. John’s words, Jesus stood, contrast with the time they had last seen him – hanging on a cross, wounded and bleeding, wracked with pain, dying the most ignominious of deaths. And when they had seen the spear thrust in his side, they knew he was dead.

Here Jesus was, not weak and limp, but standing, tall and erect, in command, repeating words he had spoken when he was last with them: “Peace be with you”. And to prove he was real and not a ghost, he showed them his hands and his side (20:19f).

Bewildered and confused though they were, they nevertheless knew he was alive. “Peace be with you!” he said again. At their last meal he had promised, “My peace I leave with you… Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in me” (John 14:27). His resurrection gave them the greatest assurance of the truth of his words.

They were overjoyed, but their minds couldn’t fully grasp what was happening. It was like a dream. But, as GK Chesterton once observed, Truth is stranger than fiction.

You may have trouble with the idea of miracles in the New Testament because we now know the laws of nature. Dr. John Lennox, emeritus professor of mathematics and philosophy at Oxford University, comments: ‘The laws of nature that science observes are the observable regularities that God the creator has built into the universe. However, such ‘laws’ don’t prevent God from intervening if he chooses. When he does, we are able to identify the irregularity and speak of it as ‘a miracle’’.

Jesus’ resurrection is not the result of a natural law that can be tested. Rather, as the New Testament tells us, it happened because God chose to over-rule, using his awesome, supernatural power (Romans 6:4b).

More than ever our confused world needs to hear God’s good news. When we turn to the risen Christ, he says to us, ‘Peace be with you. Have no fear’.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!

A Prayer. Almighty Father, you have given your only Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant that we may put away the old influences of corruption and evil, and always serve you in sincerity and truth; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (BCP, First Sunday after Easter – adapted)

You might like to listen to Christ Our Hope in Life and Death from Getty Music.

© John G. Mason

‘Remember…!’

‘God’s Gift…’

Have you considered the legacy you would like to leave? I’m not speaking here of a material legacy for your family but a legacy or gift for the benefit of others. Writing in The Weekend Australian (March 16-17, 2024), Nicki Gemmell spoke of ‘the ultimate sacrifice’ of Alexei Navalny, the late ‘Russian opposition leader whose sacrifice was driven by a deep love of his country and of his compatriots’. ‘We’re not used to heroes in real life anymore,’ she wrote.

In commenting on Navalny’s life most commentators miss the point that his sense of suffering, even his willingness to lay down his life in the cause of human rights, arose from his Christian faith – something he came to profess in his adult years. Navalny’s heroism echoed in a small way the greatest sacrifice the world has ever known – that of Jesus, the Son of God.

Come with me to the Gospel of John. In the course of his public ministry, John records, Jesus spoke of his hour. When Mary asked Jesus to do something about the need for wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11), he replied that his hour had not yet come. Later on, he said it again (John 7:20 and 8:30). But in John 12:23, when Philip and Andrew reported that some Greeks wanted to meet Jesus, a turning point came. It was then that he said: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”.

Suffering. It is through Jesus’ death alone that God’s kingdom is open to all who believe in him (Jesus) – Greeks (the non-Jewish world) as well as Jewish people. Twice more, when he was with his disciples in the upper room, Jesus spoke of the time having come for him to depart this world through an event that would be his glorification – he was speaking about his death.

Sin-bearer. We get glimpses of Jesus’ understanding of the purpose of his life throughout the four Gospel records. An important key to the back-story is found in the prophetic words of Isaiah that speak of a coming ‘servant’. Chapter 52, verse 13 through chapter 53, verse 12 are very important, especially verse 6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, was born to suffer and die as the one perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. The hidden nature of the depths of God’s love is revealed in the crucifixion. His imminent death would be his glorification – where glory speaks of the outward manifestation of his true inner character.

Glorification. Furthermore, Jesus prays that the Father’s name will also be glorified. Too often we forget that God, whose nature is always to show mercy, is passionate about rescuing the lost. In John chapter 12, verse 28 we read God’s response: ‘I have glorifiedyou (it), and I will glorify it again’ – a reference to Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead, and supremely in God’s raising of Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ glorification is also the Father’s glorification.

Judgement. Another significant facet of Jesus’ crucifixion we often overlook is that the world and its ‘ruler’ were judged then and there. For Jesus’ death involved a conflict with the powers of evil. As Jesus’ crucifixion involved the reversal of the events of Genesis 3, the original tempter needed to be deposed once and for all.

Through his crucifixion Jesus, the Son of God, not only overcame the power of sin, but also disarmed the evil powers of this world and triumphed over them (Colossians 2:15). Yes, the powers of evil are still hell-bent on defacing and destroying the image of God in us. But these very powers are in their death throes, kicking out against what they know will be their end.

The extreme cost to God. In John 12:32 we read Jesus’ words: ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.Jesus endured the extremes of injustice and torture, suffering and crucifixion.

Jesus’ death was not that of a misguided martyr as in the pop-opera, Jesus Christ, Superstar. Nor is the cross a heartless God punishing a hapless Son. Jesus tells us himself: it was his choice (John 10:14-15), because both he and the Father love the world and are intent on its rescue, no matter the cost (John 3:16). The death of God’s Son on the cross might seem strange, but it reveals the deeper wisdom of God and the invincible power of his love. Only God himself could perfectly satisfy the innermost depths of his righteousness.

In the midst of the noise and suffering of a troubled and evil world, Christ has left us an amazing gift. Through his cross he has not only conquered the power of sin and evil, but also of death itself. The breaking news of Easter Day that Christ is risen, awakens us to a hope and a future far beyond our imagination.

The events of Good Friday reveal that Jesus’ suffering and death weren’t the end of a heroic life, but the inauguration of God’s new age. This is God’s extraordinary gift.

It leaves us with questions we need to address. Do we truly believe this? Have we personally turned to the Lord with thankful hearts in repentance and faith? Is our joy such that we want to pass on the news of Christ’s great gift, no matter the cost, to family and friends, as well as to the wider world? Is this a legacy you want to leave?

On Good Friday and Easter Day may you know afresh – or for the first time – the joy and the hope of God’s gift of new life in Jesus Christ.

Prayers. Almighty Father, look graciously upon your people, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and have opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory. Amen.

© John G. Mason

‘Remember…!’

‘God’s Strange Miracle…’

In his recent insightful and challenging book, The Word of the Cross, Jonathan Linebaugh quotes WH Auden’s, ‘For the Time Being’: Nothing can save us that is possible / we who must die demand a miracle.

In First Corinthians chapter 1, verses 18 and 19 Paul the Apostle writes: For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Following the logic of verse 18 we might have expected Paul to say, For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the wisdom of God. Instead, he tells us that it is the power of God. Yes, in verse 24 he does say that the cross is the wisdom of God, but he wants to emphasize something more important. He wants us to know first and foremost, that in the cross of Christ the power of God is active – at work.

Paul doesn’t want us to think of the cross of Christ as a philosophical system set against the folly of others. Rather, he wants us to know that God, in his wisdom, has addressed the root problem of the human dilemma in a way that no other philosophy or religion has – through a powerful miracle.

Let’s think about this. Humanity has made incredible strides in the field of science and technology: people have travelled in space and walked on the moon; wherever we are we can keep in touch with one another and the world through our smart phones. But we still have a major problem: our relationships. There’s always something that causes tension and conflict – between nations, between ideologies and philosophies, between the sexes.

William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, was asked why he wrote it. To which he responded: ‘I believed then, that man was sick – not exceptional man, but average man. I believed that the condition of man was to be a morally diseased creation and that the best job I could do at the time was to trace the connection between his diseased nature and the international mess he gets himself into’.

In First Corinthians, chapter 1 Paul is telling us that where human wisdom has failed to find answers, God has stepped in and miraculously acted. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God has used his powerful resources to provide a solution to our human dilemma in a way that nothing else could.

The implication is that we live in a moral universe. We are not here by chance simply to make the best of our fleeting life. We are creatures made in the image of our creator to whom we are accountable. Our deepest problem is that we have rejected our maker and endeavored to live without him. And what happens? The deep divisions in the western world suggest we aren’t able to govern ourselves.

And perhaps that’s our real problem. We don’t want others to govern us. We want to govern.

The extraordinary news of the Bible is that God has stepped into our world in person and that through the scandalous event of the death of his Son on a cross, he has powerfully provided a new start for the perishing. The cross is the place where God has destroyed all human arrogance and pretense.

So, Paul asks, Where is the one who is wise? (v.20). This is a reference to the philosophers of the day, Epicureans, Platonists or Stoics, who all had their views about what life is about and how it should be lived. ‘But what real, lasting solution do they have to offer?’ Paul questions.

Where is the scribe? he continues. This is a reference to experts in the Jewish law: where are they? Apart from focusing on the law which no one can keep, what solution do they propose that might sort out our relationship with God and with one another?

Paul continues, Where is the debater of this age? Where are the orators? Or we might ask, where are the academics or the expert media commentators who can offer a just and lasting solution to our human tragedy? Indeed, can we even trust the news media and commentators?  In February 2015 Brian Williams, a news anchor with NBC, America, recanted on a story he had told that he said he was shot down over Iraq in 2003. He said he had ‘made a mistake’.

Paul is saying that through the cross of Jesus Christ, God made foolish the wisdom of the world. God has upstaged the vanity and pretense of human wisdom by an action of his own.

In verse 21 he writes: In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom,…

The brilliant minds of the world of academia, the expert voices of media celebrities with their unctuous tones, have not been able to offer a solution to our human dilemma. None point to God, the creator of the universe. And certainly, none point to the scandal of the cross.

There is something strange in what God is doing here, but there is a rightness about it. Paul is saying that God has deliberately ordered things this way so that an arrogant, self-centered people cannot, and will not, find a solution. If we could do this by ourselves, we potentially put ourselves in the driving seat and that would only add to the pride we already have… ‘Ha, God! We can do without you.’

But consider the second part of verse 21: God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. This is breath-taking. Through the preaching of Christ crucified, a message that seems so senseless and inane when we first come across it, God has determined to rescue anyone who believes. I am sure you see the implications of this. God, in his wisdom, has determined on a plan that to human eyes seems ludicrous.

Furthermore, it means that all people – it doesn’t matter who they are – have an equal opportunity to benefit. Priority isn’t given to the highly intelligent, the wealthy, the successful or the celebrities. God’s offer of salvation is open to anyone who, by his grace, trusts him at his word.

The message of Christ crucified is God’s strange miracle that powerfully subverts the wisdom of the world and provides the one and only solution to our human need – restoration of our relationship with God and a motivation and a model for working out our relationships with one another.

As Auden wrote: Nothing can save us that is possible / we who must die demand a miracle.

A prayer. Merciful God, who created all men and women in your image and who hates nothing you have made, nor would have the death of a sinner, but rather that they should be converted and live; have mercy on all people everywhere and take from them all ignorance and hardness of heart and contempt of your Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to your flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of your ancient people, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

© John G. Mason

‘Remember…!’

‘An Unforgiving World…’

Vindictiveness and anger are the playbook of life around us today – in the bedroom, social media and the corridors of power. How can we respond?

Forty-five years ago, the historian and social critic, Christopher Lasch, published The Culture of Narcissism: There he wrote, ‘Our society has made lasting friendships, love affairs and marriages, increasingly difficult to achieve. Social life has become more and more warlike and personal relationships have taken on the character of combat…’ He said this before the advent of social media.

Driven by changing and conflicting world-views, society today has become more and more divided. For centuries, the Judaeo-Christian world-view formed the social bond in the Western world. But these days the progressive world dismisses God: we are now adrift on the ocean of life without an agreed moral compass. Persuasive voices appeal to our emotions. Profounder, wiser voices of experience that speak to the depths of our souls are drowned out.

In his book, God Is Good For You, Dr Greg Sheriden, a respected Australian commentator and author, writes: ‘The primary challenge today is not intellectual but cultural…’

For the last five hundred years or so, Christian theologians and church leaders have seen the need to address people’s intellectual questions – about the existence of God, authenticity, suffering, and science and Christianity. But if Sheridan is right and the challenge now is cultural, we need to ask, ‘how do other people see us?’ Is there any difference in my lifestyle and worldview from people around me?

In chapter 3 of his Letter to the Colossians, Paul the Apostle identifies character changes God expects in his people. In verses 5 through 11 he sets out examples of inner transformation. And, from verse 12 he writes of transformed relationships.

In verse 12 he writes: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Changed attitudes. Paul tells us that if we are to experience and enjoy good relationships ourselves, we need to change our attitudes towards others. We need to put off the anti-social vices of indifference and thoughtlessness in our relationships with one another. Paul puts his finger on 3 attitudes that can cause conflict.

Instead of compassion and kindness, it is easy to distance ourselves from the pain and the suffering of others. Instead of humility and meekness, how easily we focus on our own interests and achievements so that we, even unconsciously, look down on others who are not as ‘together’.

And how quickly we become impatient with those around us because we’re not prepared to put up with their faults or failures. Indifference, pride and impatience can lie at the root of violence and hostility in any human society.

Forgiveness. Paul continues: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.

Let me ask, have you forgiven in your heart and before God that person who so badly hurt you? Have you let bitterness take root in your attitude towards them? If we know God’s forgiveness because we have turned to the Lord Jesus in repentance, how can we not forgive those who have offended us?

Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Paul’s words when said: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love”. He also said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude”. And he further commented, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”.

Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you, Paul exhorts us.

Love. And put on love which binds you all together, he continues. Paul knew how easy it is for God’s people, indeed for everyone, to be divided. He understood the corrosive effect of wounded feelings. But he also knew of the one quality that can heal, and enable God’s people to grow into maturity: Love.

He is not speaking of a sentimental, emotional love, but of a love that is grounded in truth and is committed to serving the best interests of others.

This is where we who are God’s people are to be so different from the wider society. For the New Testament insists that God’s people be the one community where the ethics of love and mercy in serving the best interests of others, prevail. As God’s people, we are to pray for our enemies. God expects us to live out the grace of compassion and care for others – especially for one another as God’s people.

How are we to respond to the vindictiveness and division around us? The starting point is to pray that we might live out the life changes that the Lord has brought to bear on us as his people.

Tertullian, the 2nd century church leader commented of the way the wider society saw the communities of God’s people: ‘It is our care for the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents’, he said. “Only look,” they say, “look how they love one another”.’

A prayer. Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, so that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love for one another and to you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen.

© John G. Mason