WEDNESDAY THE TWELFTH OF APRIL, 2017
Gracious God, who for our sake chose that your son should bear the yoke of the cross to drive out the enemy’s power from our midst; grant that as we celebrate the suffering of Christ, so we may participate in the grace of the resurrection. We make this prayer in his name, who is alive, now and for ever. Amen.
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
which was brought upon me,
which the Lord inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.
For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my courage.
Remember my affliction and my bitterness,
the wormwood and the gall!
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that we should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
For the Lord will not reject for ever;
though he causes grief, he will have compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Judas Iscariot: hero or villain?
Wednesday in Holy Week is sometimes called “Spy Wednesday” in certain corners of the Christian church, remembering how Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, approached the Jewish leaders with an offer to supply them an opportunity to arrest Jesus at a time when he was not surrounded by the crowds. Judas was now the spy in the midst of the Twelve.
Many people think that Judas lost faith in Jesus, when Jesus failed to seize the momentum he created by the cleansing of the temple. They believe it was then that Judas decided that Jesus was not the Messiah, not the one to lead Israel into a new flowering of freedom and independence. So for thirty pieces of silver, he looked for the opportunity to hand Jesus over.
Matthew puts it simply:
“Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’
You perhaps know how it plays out. At the Last Supper, Jesus announces that one of the Twelve will betray him.
As he dips his bread in the dish, he leans over to Judas and says, “What you do, do quickly.”
Judas leaves the Supper, only to return later to the Mount of Olives, where the temple police are ready to arrest whoever it is that Judas betrays with a kiss.
Back in 2006 the “National Geographic Magazine” published an article on “The Gospel of Judas,” a second century text , mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyon in 180AD. It had been found in the Egyptian desert. The Gospel of Judas tells that Judas was the only apostle Jesus could really trust, to set into motion the events that would lead to Jesus’ suffering and death on behalf of the world. Is Judas the hero or the villain of the story?
Betrayal is one of the worst hurts a human being can endure. Those of us who have been betrayed by a friend, or by someone who was supposed to have our back, know great emotional pain indeed. It comforts me to think that Jesus Christ knew the pain of betrayal. When I bring my pain to Jesus, he is able to sympathise. And when it is I who have betrayed him, he is able to forgive. Such is the nature of the Lord we follow.
… for peace in the world.
… for those who have been betrayed, in particular those who have been betrayed by members of the Christian faith.
… for gay men in Chechnya, who are suffering brutal persecution by the authorities. DETAILS
… for the victims of slave trading and an end to this evil practice. DETAILS
… for the male victims of honour abuse. DETAILS
… for animals living in war zones. DETAILS
… for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
… for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
… for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
… for ourselves.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From “Dying unto Life” by Arthur C. McGill:
Every action is a losing, a letting go, a passing away from oneself of some bit of one’s own reality into the existence of others and of the world. In Jesus Christ, this character of action is not resisted, by trying to use our action to assert ourselves, extend ourselves, to impose our will and being upon situations. In Jesus Christ, this self-expending character of action is joyfully affirmed. I receive myself constantly from God’s Parenting love. But so far as some aspects of myself are at my disposal, these I receive to give away. Those who would live as Jesus did, who would act and purpose themselves as Jesus did—mean to love, i.e., they mean to expend themselves for others unto death. Their being is meant to pass away from them to others, and they make that meaning the conscious direction of their existence.
Too often the love which is proclaimed in the churches suppresses this element of loss and need and death in activity. As a Christian, I often speak of love as helping others, but I ignore what this does to the person who loves. I ignore the fact that love is self-expenditure, a real expending and losing and deterioration of the self. I speak of love as if the person loving had no problems, no needs, no limits. In other words, I speak of love as if the affluent dream were true. This kind of proclamation is heard everywhere. We hear it said: ‘Since you have no unanswered needs, why don’t you go out and help those other people who are in need?’ But we never hear people go on and add: ‘If you do this, you too will be driven into need.’ And by not stating this conclusion, people give the childish impression that Christian love is some kind of cornucopia, where we can reach to everybody’s needs and problems and still have everything we need for ourselves. Believe me, there are grown-up persons who speak this kind of nonsense. And when people try to live out this illusory love, they become terrified when the self-expending begins to take its toll. Terror of relationship is that we eat each other.
But note this very carefully: like Jesus, we too can only live to give our received selves away freely because we know our being is not thereby ended, but still and always lies in the Parenting of our God.
Those who love in the name of Jesus Christ serve the needs of others willingly, even to the point of being exposed in their own neediness. They do not cope with their own needs. They do not anguish over how their own needs may be met by the twists and turns of their circumstances, by the whims of their society, or by the strategies of their own egos. At the centre of their life, the very innermost centre, they are grateful to God, because they do not fear neediness. That is what frees them to serve the needy, to companion the needy, to become and be one of the needy.
Lord our God, look with mercy upon us this day, for whom your son was willing to be betrayed and so to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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