|Scripture records Mary’s song, as she celebrates with Elizabeth the joy of being chosen by God to give birth to the saviour. She declares that God is bringing order into a fractured society. God’s commitment is always towards the well-being of his creation. From its inception, creation was intended as a space that reflected God’s character and values.
I remember how Katey was forced to retire from teaching because of MS, and struggled to come to terms with her worsening health. Suddenly we were confronted with social workers and complex forms that had to be filled in with the certain words and phrasing to trigger appropriate benefits.
One day I came home to discover a stranger in the house asking Katey questions. He was sent to check on Katey’s eligibility for the benefit she claimed. I listened as he asked her, ‘When did you last go upstairs?’ Katey replied, ‘Last week’, an answer he duly wrote on his form.
But Katey was in denial and hadn’t been upstairs for years. I challenged the form-filler if he was allowing the answer to stand when a simple check would reveal that Katey could not weight-bear on her legs. I insisted we went back through the form, since his whole purpose seemed to be to slander Katey as a benefits cheat. Unlike God, he failed to have the welfare of creation at the heart of his work.
What a loathsome job, and how far from the kingdom Christ secured for us! Yet all of us can silently participate in the creeping process of penalising the most vulnerable among us, since they are usually the least able to defend themselves.
Mary proclaims that the least are preferred to the mighty, the hungry fed and those with sufficient expected to feed themselves and not steal food from the marginalised. We live in a world where vigilance is required that we might continue to proclaim Mary’s anthem and do the works of God on the earth, loving the least among us.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings
|Elizabeth encourages Mary and demonstrates the crucial role those who are more mature in years, and who have faithfully navigated life’s circumstances, can play to help the continuation of Christian witness to future generations. It is less about passing on a baton than in demonstrating a reality, one that is trustworthy and tested over time.
The source of Christianity’s strength and durability lies in the willingness and ability of Jesus’ followers to retain confidence and trust in its redemptive message. As I have lived my life, I have wondered at the inability of so many to stay the course.
It seems that the simple truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and perhaps the even simpler one of maintaining confidence in the gospel narrative, becomes increasingly difficult to sustain as year gives way to year.
It is wonderful that in spite of her disappointments, Elizabeth is able to receive God’s word and recognise God’s work. We need those who have proven God’s faithfulness over the years, carry wounds from that walk, yet retain a testimony of confidence in the truth of God to act as witnesses to those following in their footsteps.
I had the great privilege of meeting Malcolm Muggeridge and Francis Schaeffer, both much older than me, yet both in their different ways clear communicators of the gospel message. I was able to see that the Way of Jesus extended to the very end of life; that Christian service was never something one retired from.
The abandonment of the poor and the marginalised, and the excusing of those with wealth and power from social responsibility, are agendas we must challenge by demonstrating that life is not measured by financial success and personal security.
It is measured by the extent to which God’s Good News message is incarnate, that is, fleshed out, throughout the earth, starting with my own witness and honesty around my fears and failures.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings
Growing up, I always knew when I was in trouble. It was the intonation in my mother’s voice as she called my name. My blood would run cold. It’s strange just how strong a reflex my body had to this tone, one I can clearly recall today.
As Mary arrived and greeted her cousin, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb leapt. It was the very presence and a clear sign of the authority and divinity of Mary’s child. Before meeting, and without explanation, that same Holy Spirit who’d overshadowed Mary now made Elizabeth and her unborn son, John, aware of the presence of God.
This is the first connection between Jesus and John, which continued when John prepared the way for Jesus and baptised him as his earthy ministry began. It also fulfils the prophecy that the angel gave to Zechariah, stating that John would be filled with the spirit in his mother’s womb.
We live in an age when we have forgotten the wonder of pregnancy. Science appears to offer us solid answers for all our questions, and we have lost a little of the awe and mystery that accompanies life.
We are not intended purely to perceive ourselves and our world as a series of scientific facts. To do so robs us, and life itself, of wonder.
Many of us can only relate to God as a harsh judge and critic. We live seeking to walk a narrow line forever fearing we shall fail God and fall short. We attempt to placate him, assuming he is vengeful and full of wrath.
So much of this, I suspect, relates to our own experience of the adults who surrounded us growing up, and our natural view of authority. Yet God’s way is always a way of mystery and delight, encouraging us to rise above what we can know for sure, and discover a world of wonder and surprise, orchestrated by the spirit of God.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings
I listened, but only because I had no choice. I heard, but only because I needed to.
I watched, but only because He was my son, and I winced and I crumbled inside, because of what they did to Him.
He was and is my son, He always will be. I held Him, cared for Him, and comforted Him when He cried.
Now, I could do nothing. Now I felt helpless and useless. I hid my eyes, but I could not hide my tears, as they flogged Him, mocked Him, and drove Him out of the city with a cross upon His back.
I followed, close enough, but not too close, in love and pain. As I did so, I began to remember his birth, the presents from the strangers, and the man in the temple. He told me my heart would break, and now it was breaking, with every step He took to His death.
I looked on in horror as they pushed Him to the ground, stripped Him of his clothes, and nailed Him to the wooden cross.
I could hardly breathe as they lifted it skyward, and jerked it into place.
I felt His pain, almost as if it were my own, and in some strange way it was.
The crowd was full of anger; they who only days before had hailed Him as their king now laughed and ridiculed Him.
The priests ordered Him to save himself. The Romans rolled dice for His clothes, and His friends – they had deserted Him long before.
Only I stood watching, near enough to hear Him cry:
“Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”
I saw and felt His agony. The nails in His hands and feet, the crown of thorns upon his head, but more that that, the moment of separation from His Father’s side.
I watched the sky turn black, and heard the temple curtain rip, as He uttered: “It is finished!”
I cried every tear I had left to cry, a mother’s heart broken in two, and the hope of the nation dashed. They dragged me away; nothing left to see, just my son’s broken body, hanging on the tree.
(Deacon Becky Lovatt)
With many Profound blessings for this Eastertide,
God Bless each and every one of you
Here in the UK today is Mothering Sunday and I thought that this little story was very appropriate as we praise and acknowledge all the wonderful work that our mothers do every day of the year:-
A teenager lived alone with his mother, and the two of them had a very special relationship.
During school sports events, even though the son was always on the bench, his mother was always in the stands cheering.
She never missed a game.
This young man was the smallest of the class when he entered the school but she also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn’t want to.
But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he’d get to play when he became a senior.
All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful mother was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.
When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a “walk-on.” Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul into every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.
The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his mother. His mother shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games.
This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game. It was the end of his senior football season,
and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram.
The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, “My mother died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?”
The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son. And don’t even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.
Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the side-lines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful team mate back so soon.
“Coach, please let me play. I’ve just got to play today,” said the young man.
The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player
in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted. And finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in.
“All right,” he said. “You can go in.”
Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him.
He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you’ve never heard!
Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, “Kid, I can’t believe it. You were fantastic!
Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?
He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Well, you knew my Mom died, but did you know that my Mom was blind?”
The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, “Mom came to all my games, but today was the first time she could see me play, and I wanted to show her I could do it!
Happy Mothering Sunday to all my readers, who are mothers
John 2 tells us that there was a marriage in Cana to which the mother of Jesus, the disciples and Jesus were invited. When the wine ran out, Mary said to her son, “They have no wine.”
Jesus replied, “What have I to do with you? My time has not yet come.”
For Jesus had not yet begun his ministry.
Until that moment He was only the son of Mary, the son of a carpenter, who worked in a workshop.
But Mary totally ignores his rebuke! She goes to the servants and says, “Whatever my son says to you, DO IT!”
But Jesus had only just said that he was not ready to do a miracle. He had, in fact, rebuked His mother!
But His mother, Mary, who had never seen a miracle worked by her son (the Bible clearly states that this was to be His first miracle), had always treasured the message of the Angel Gabriel in her heart. So she went straight to the servants and says, in effect, “My son, Jesus, will shortly come to you and may tell you to do something stupid – but DO IT, anyway!”
Without Mary’s preparation and believe in her son, there would probably have been no miracle that day.
Now Jesus goes to the servants and says, “There’s no wine – give them water!”
Because He KNEW that if they OBEYED Him, the miracle would happen!
But if they didn’t obey Him, there would be no miracle.
Because, of course, Jesus wasn’t working the miracle alone. He couldn’t do it without cooperation. Firstly, His mother – that was a pure act of faith.
The anticipation! The Bible says that this was His first miracle. Jesus was just like anyone else. Then when He says to the servants, “Do something stupid and fill the wine casks with water” – it suddenly turned into the very best wine.
The miracle was only made possible because of Mary’s anticipation and the servants’ obedience.
And this miracle was to begin the ministry of Jesus. John 2:11 says, “This beginning of Miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested forth his glory – and His disciples believed on Him!”
So up until that time, even the disciples themselves were not convinced of the difference with Jesus – UNIL THEY ACTUALLY WITNESSED THE MIRACLE!
From the words of David Hathaway
With many peaceful blessings
It is to St Luke’s wonderful gospel that many Christians turn as the year draws to a close and Christmas approaches, for it is to St
Luke that we owe the fullest account of the nativity.
Luke alone tells us the story of Mary and the angel’s visit to her, and has thus given the Church the wonderful Magnificat of Mary.
Luke alone tells us the story of Simeon’s hymn of praise, thus giving us the wonderful Nunc Dimmittis. Imagine an Anglican
evensong without the Nunc Dimmittis.
Luke alone tells us the story of how the angels appeared to the shepherds and how the shepherds then visited the infant Jesus.
So – imagine Christmas cards and nativity scenes every year without the shepherds arriving to visit baby Jesus. Imagine school nativity plays without our children dressed as shepherds or sheep. So – thank you, Luke!
What makes it so amazing is that Luke was not a Jew! The man who wrote the fullest nativity story, and indeed more of the New
Testament than any other single person, was a Gentile!
(From the Winter magazine of the Caldicot Methodist Church}
With many peaceful blessings