St Andrew, Glencairn

Glencairn Methodist Church

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March 2015

Some say that Spring starts on 1st March while others, mainly the astronomers, say it does not start until the Vernal (Spring) Equinox on 21st. Whoever is right, St David had barely introduced March when Winter reminded us that she had not gone away, you know! She deposited 2 inches of snow on 3rd, even at our lowly altitude of only 200 ft up the Cave Hill. Napoleon got a complete covering! However thanks to the ever increasing height of the sun in the sky, at least our side of the road was completely clear by lunchtime.

And we are still in the Season of Lent, hopefully remembering whatever it was we agreed with ourselves to do to recognise the Lenten fast. Lent is indeed a time for personal reflection and contemplation. The lectionary describes each day (except the Sundays, of course) as a Day of Discipline and Self Denial. But as we examine our own soul and attempt to sweep clean our own Augean Stables of our accumulated sin. (In Greek mythology Hercules, a strong man, was sentenced to clear out the stables of Augeas, a king, which was a job both humiliating and impossible.) Our job in impossible too without the freely given Grace of Jesus, in whose strength alone our sins can be forgive through repentance and faith.

But Lent has still some time to go until we get to its climax in Holy Week when there was a lot of activity and much for us to ponder on. On Palm Sunday Jesus declared to the World that he was indeed God's long awaited Messiah. Later in the week, on the day we now call Maundy Thursday, which was for Jesus and his disciples the the Passover Supper. He has his followers arrange a booked room and the food, and they duly met in the upper room. But this was no ordinary Passover, for Jesus did and said some extraordinary things, things we continue to remember and practice to this day. During the supper Jesus dispatched Judas to do his dastardly deed of betrayal, a deed for which he later felt terribly guilty to the extent that he took his own life. But then, as he distributed the bread and wine, he said some remarkable and memorable words. In the words of St Luke's Gospel, "He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to his disciples, saying 'This is my body which is given for you.' After supper he took another cup of wine and said, 'This cup is the new covenant between God and people - an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.'"  The Church has continually remembered this event in the Holy Communion Service, which is usually celebrated on this Thursday and on Sundays and other days throughout the year. Through eating the break and drinking the wine at Holy Communion, Christians believe that their souls are nourished spiritually by the body and blood of Jesus; the very essence of his life renews their life in him

St John gives us another story, generally thought to have occurred after this supper. (I warned you it was a busy night!) Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. In this act Jesus gave his disciples a wonderful gift, the lesson of the servant-king, whose authority stemmed from his willingness to be a servant. And this is where we get the name Maundy from. Some scholars suggest that "Maundy" is derived from the Latin word "mandatum", meaning a gift. The Monarch of England traditionally gives  a gift of Maundy Money to the same number of poor folk as his or her age. (They no longer also wash their feet, as they did in days gone by, and the recipients are not necessarily poor.)

So many lessons from the end of Lent. So much for us to follow. Can we?

I hope to continue the story of the rest of that night and the next three days in my April message

[Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT)]


10 March 2015


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