Glencairn Methodist Church
As I compose this message on Good Friday (6 April) the Church is remembering the passion and death of her Lord, Jesus Christ. We remember his agony in the garden as he wrestled to come to terms with his impending execution, we remember his trails before the High Priests of the Jews, King Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor in Judea, the man with the power to order the execution. We remember his hours on the cross, his death and burial. We give thanks for this once-for-all sacrifice which atoned for the sins of the whole world, so that those who follow him and acknowledge him as Lord may have eternal life.
During the week (known as Holy Week) the church has also been reflecting on some of the events that took place during that same week in the life of Jesus, leading up to his crucifixion. One such event is the story told by St John in his Gospel (John 12:1-8) about Mary of Bethany. While Jesus and his disciples were dinning in the home Mary shared with her brother and sister, Lazarus and Martha, Mary anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume. In this act, Mary not only showed her deep love for Jesus but also demonstrated that she was aware of his impending death and had anointed him in anticipation of that. She was condemned by Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, for doing this; he thought that the money wasted buying perfumed oil could have been used to much better effect by giving it to "the poor". Jesus rebuked Judas, pointing out that "It was intended that she should save this perfume of the day of my burial." But then Jesus said, "You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."
"You will always have the poor with you!" The speaker at the Maundy Thursday service in St Andrew's, the Reverend Don Gamble, took this as his text. At first he questioned if this would indeed be true, suggesting that the on-going attempts by rich nations to eradicate world poverty should eventually succeed. Then he pointed out that there were various ways in which people could be "poor". They could be poor in terms of money, which is the most obvious interpretation. They could also be poor in terms of health and in quality of life. Most difficult of all, they could be poor spiritually, and indeed we can all experience poverty of spirit. Away back at the start of his ministry Jesus had said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) It is especially true that only when we begin to acknowledge our own spiritual poverty, then we really begin to inherit the kingdom of heaven. When we acknowledge our complete dependence on God for everything, then we are free from ourselves and able to accept God's gift of life.
We know how the story of Holy Week and Good Friday ends. On the third day, Easter Day, Jesus rose again from the dead. This is the essence of the Gospel story told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And it is indeed "Good News". It means that the ultimate enemy of men and women, namely death, has been conquered, and so the way to eternal life is open to all.
May Easter 2007 be a blessing to you and may you find spiritual wealth through believing and trusting in Jesus Christ.
(6 April 2007)
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm