I hardly dared take a breath as I continued about my work around the house, minding my own business, keeping my head down. I knew that things had been strained in the household, I had felt it.
I worked for the wife of the Governor, Pontius Pilate. I had been in post for many years when it happened and the mistress had shared many things with me. And that night, I remember, she shared her dreams and fears with me, as I share them with you now.
It was a few nights before that that the nightmares began – the same one every night. She would wake up in a sweat and could hardly draw breath; her dreams were turning her into a nervous wreck.
The dreams were of Him, this Jesus character that had transformed the whole of Jerusalem, Jews and Romans alike. Some had changed for the better, some for the worse. And now my mistress’s dreams saw Him bound and beaten standing in front of her husband, who was to pass judgment on Him.
The man had eyes that bore into her very soul, she said. He was not angry, or full of hatred, in fact He stared at her and her husband with compassion and even love, not that she was very good at recognising that emotion.
The dream had warned her to stay away from this man, to leave him to the Jews, to do with him as they willed, but Pilate just had to get involved. He said that he had no choice, that the crowd were threatening him with going to Rome, to the Emperor. It could have meant losing everything.
The position, the power, and all that comes with that, the honour, the glory, the praise of Rome. But instead they lost even more than that, they lost their very selves.
Jesus came, just as the dream predicted, Pilate got involved, again as predicted. He tried to walk away, to wash his hands of the whole sordid affair, but it was too late by then, the die had already been cast.
Jesus was led away, stripped, whipped, and crucified, and for Pilate and my mistress, the real nightmare began.
(From the Shadows of Victory: Ride the Rollercoaster of Holy Week by Deacon Becky Lovatt.
For further information and to download this inspirational book please go to:-
With many peaceful blessings
My name is Zaccheaus, Zac for short, and you may have heard of me. I’m the one who is short and climbed a tree to see Jesus, only for Him to invite himself to my house for tea.
It was long ago, and I am old now, but I look back with fondness, with horror and with disgust at the man I used to be. At the man I was, before Jesus changed me, before I was set free, and forgiven.
I was a very wealthy man, I still am, if you compare me with those around me that have nothing. But I share my wealth now, and use it for good, unlike before.
In those days, I cooked the books, believed in creative accounting, which basically meant I got richer and everyone else became poorer. I lied and cheated, and behaved appallingly, but all this did not stop Jesus from calling my name, and although I was a sinner He called me friend.
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. The streets were lined at every corner, with crowds of excited people. Jesus was coming to town. I knew of this Jesus, by reputation anyway, you could not have lived in Jericho at that time, and not have heard of Him.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I wanted to know if He deserved such a reputation, I needed to see for myself.
However, therein lay the problem. I was so short I couldn’t see anything, only the armpits of the person in front of me. Suddenly, I had a cunning plan. I ran along the road and climbed a sycamore tree. This was perfect, I thought, I can see Him, but He can’t see me.
How wrong was I?
Not long after I had settled myself down, I was disturbed.
Someone was calling my name. At first, I stayed quiet, I hoped I would blend in with the leaves. I was not a popular guy, so I prayed that the person that had spoken had mixed me up with someone else and that they would soon move on. But the calling persisted.
Who was it that called, and what did they want?
Eventually, as the crowds gathered at the foot of my tree, and the discontented mutterings increased, I realised that it was Jesus who was talking to me, and not just talking, but inviting Himself to tea.
I climbed down, and as I opened the door of my house I realised that the door of my heart had been prised open too. This man knew all about me, He saw through my lies and exposed my cheating.
He never condemned me, it was I who condemned myself, because in the light of his goodness my evil was laid bare.
He called me a son of Abraham, as He offered me forgiveness. I in turn gave half of my possessions to the poor, and paid back three-fold those whom I had cheated.
He told me that salvation had come. I didn’t know what that was, but I knew things could never be the same, and they never have been.
(From the Book ‘In the Shadows of Victory: Ride The Rollercoaster of Holy Week’ by Deacon Becky Lovatt.
For further information and to download this marvellous book for only £1.99 please go to:-
With many peaceful blessings
Kanja is a 30 year old woman living with HIV in Kenya. She lives in one room with her HIV-positive husband, a peasant farmer. They have two daughters, a four-year old (also HIV-positive) and a ten-month-old.
Following routine testing, Kanja was found to have cervical cancer and was scheduled for a hysterectomy. Despite including insurance covering most of her costs, Kanja still had to pay an additional £110 for the operation – a sum of money she and her husband could only dream of.
Thankfully, money donated in Britain covered the shortfall.
“We need to keep Kanja alive, as a person and child of God in her own right, but also as a mother who needs to care for her two young children – one with HIV and one who, we hope, will have a future without HIV through preventative treatment,” said Dr Claire Smithson, a mission partner working as an HIV/Aids doctor at the Maua Methodist hospital in Kenya. “We need mothers like Kanja to stay healthy, bring up their children and reduce the numbers of orphans in countries like Kenya.”
The 2015 Easter Offering dedication service draws inspiration from the prophetic vision of the Tree of Life that produces leaves for healing (Revelation 22:2). All of the funds raised in the service offerings will go towards the work of the Church’s World Mission Fund, to support work with people like Kanja all over the world.
The worship resources are free to download, or can be ordered direct from Methodist Publishing here (postage and packing charges will apply). The service includes Bible passages, music and prayers. There is a slot for an address, if required, although the service can be used without one. There are also stories from partner Churches that are engaged in healing, healthcare and reconciliation around the world.
The service has been written by a small task group of Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB), led by former MWiB President, Jill Baker. “It has been exciting to work on this year’s service,” said Jill. “We have three stories of remarkable work of healing and reconciliation going on around the world, enabled through the World Mission Fund, coupled with a mixture of old and new hymns and stirring bible passages. It would be wonderful if every Methodist was able to share in this act of worship, which will also be shared through Twitter in the week after Easter.”
MWiB has also produced a series of reflections for each week in Lent, linked to the Easter Offering and each based on the image of a different tree. These can be found online here.
About the Methodist Church
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches serving Great Britain, with nearly 209,000 members and regular contact with 512,000 people. It has 5,023 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches with a worldwide total membership of over 80 million. Its activities, both alone and with ecumenical and secular partners, are based on four aims known as Our Calling:
• To increase awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love
• To help people to grow and learn as Christians through mutual support and care
• To be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice
• To make more followers of Jesus Christ.
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With many peaceful blessings
This is the Easter Message from Ruth Gee, the President of the Methodist Conference:-
•Listen to the message as a podcast – http://methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/podcasts/the-grit-in-the-oyster
In her Easter message, the President of the Methodist Conference has spoken of Mary Magdalene and the many misunderstandings about her story. Imagining what Mary Magdalene would say to us if she were alive today, the Revd Ruth Gee tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion: “I have a name and a story, precious to me – and to him. But for many that is not enough, or unvarnished it is too much…I was with him – with him right to the end – the bitter end.”
At the end of her message, the Revd Ruth Gee challenges us to hear the good news of resurrection afresh this Easter. “Perhaps (Mary Magdalene) would challenge us to live as those who know that God’s love extends to all people,” Ruth says. “Perhaps she would ask us to listen the voices of those who struggle to be heard because others regard them as unworthy.”
The full message follows:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…(John 20:1)
Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the empty tomb, the first to be commissioned by the risen Christ. What can we, today’s disciples, learn from Mary Magdalene? What would she say to us? Perhaps it would be something like this…
The grit in the oyster – that’s me.
I have a name and a story, precious to me – and to him. But for many that is not enough, or unvarnished it is too much.
So I, Mary of Magdala – Mary Magdalene – have become many things.
I have a name and I was with Jesus. He healed me, he restored me. Some talk of 7 demons – a good, complete, holy imperfect number. I was troubled – a great load was lifted from me and I followed him.
They have assumed many things about my demons and, wanting more than my name, more than my discipleship they have woven stories around me, wrapped me in their own ideas and fears and prejudice.
I became prostitute – a more comfortable image for them – dressed in scarlet, a modern-day Eve (she too was laden with assumptions and fears). The fallen woman – well, I was fallen like you but do not try to name my sins for your comfort.
To some I became weeper and foot-washer, disturber of the feast.
I would have washed his feet I would have let down my hair for his comfort but that was the service of another – I would not deprive her of it, that unnamed other Mary – she has her part too.
I became extravagant anointer of feet or head – reprimanded and remembered, surrounded by the sweet smell of abundant love. That was not my part – not then. Though I am myrrh-bearer my jar was unbroken.
Remove the layers, woven from the imagination and supposition of others, and what is left?
You are left with me, with Mary of Magdala
I was healed.
I was with him – with him right to the end – the bitter end.
I waited through the long hours leading to the cross.
I stayed at his feet as he died.
I followed him to the tomb and saw him laid there.
I prepared spices and ointments – finding my comfort in the certainty of the ritual. Anticipating the final service, the anointing.
I went to the tomb where certainty was stripped from me and the first glimmers of truth were revealed in the dawn.
I was commissioned.
I was not believed.
The simple truth: I was healed, accepted, with him to the end, myrrh-bearer, commissioned, apostle to the apostles.
But the plain truth is too much for some – the grit in the oyster.
Healed, accepted, commissioned.
That is the truth.
That is immeasurable – that is precious.
I will fight for it.
Perhaps this is what Mary would say. Perhaps she would challenge us to hear the good news of resurrection afresh this Easter. Perhaps she would challenge us to really live as those who know that God’s love extends to all people. Perhaps she would ask us to listen the voices of those who struggle to be heard because others regard them as unworthy.
Perhaps, Mary Magdalene would say these things. But most of all, most importantly and most urgently, I believe she would say, “Christ is risen!” She was healed, accepted and commissioned to share the good news – so am I – so are you.
Will you accept the commission?
Come share our Easter joy
That death could not imprison,
Nor any power destroy,
Our Christ, who is arisen!
(Fred Pratt Green)
Yours, in Christ
I have just created a new inspirational video for my friend, Rev Roy Watson.
Rev Roy Watson, a Methodist Minister in the Gwent Hills and Vale Circuit, warmly invites you to view his new video:-
‘The Easter Message 2014’…….
……to view Roy’s inspirational video please go to:-
If you have your own website and/or Facebook page you are very welcome to include the above link as you feel appropriate.
With many peaceful blessings