Category Archives: Easter

Maunday Thursday / Passover Meal

Maundy Thursday was an amazing evening of Jewishness, Jesus and Junk Food!

Our Jewish friend David Winston (with Heston as his sidekick) led us through a Passover meal; the ancient liturgy and symbols helped us to understand more deeply the ‘past’ of our Christian faith, and also the ‘present’ message of freedom and hope it offers in our modern world. This was especially poignant with our night shelter guests (fleeing homes in danger, longing for freedom and fullness of life) sharing the meal with us.

Then we had a wonderful (partly-kosher!) dinner courtesy of our Junk Food Café; our imam friend Adam taught us about wudhu (ritual washing before Muslim worship); and then David R-H led us reading John 13, saying our prayers and washing each other’s feet.

It was a very special and moving night. Jan said it was a deeply profound inter-faith experience and encounter; David Winston said it was like a big multi-culture-and-faith group hug 🙂

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Good Friday Reflection 7

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

At his most desperate, at the end, having gone through the experience of abandonment, having endured humiliation, torture, and scorn, and now facing death, the final words Luke has Jesus uttering come from a song about trust in God. ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ is drawn from Psalm 31.

In his pain and loneliness on the cross Jesus finds solace in the scriptures which had formed, shaped and directed his life.

For me this begs the question, what stories are we so deeply embedded within that we can find solace, strength and direction in our darkest moments?

The stories that shape us, can not only bring us much consolation in times of hardship and great need, but can also shape our responses, our reaction to situations we face. Just as athletes train their muscle memory for instinctive response in competition, we can prepare ourselves to be able to respond creatively, courageously, non-violently, and with humility and grace when we face desperate situations.

The stories around us in films, on television, in the media, too often invoke a fight or flight response to injustice, violence and hardship. By soaking ourselves in the story of Jesus we prepare ourselves to follow his example of creative response, of taking up our cross, of refusal to succumb to violence and oppression in our lives and the systems we are part of. Just as Jesus was able to find strength and trust in God from the stories that had shaped him, so too we can find strength and trust in our darkest moments.

For the times when we could easily fall into despair, for the times when we could react with violence or cowardice out of fear, for the times when God may feel absent from our lives, if we truly allow ourselves to be shaped by the stories of the life, actions, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, if we commit ourselves with trust to God, then we too may see life come out of our own darkest moments.

Jon Dorsett

Good Friday Reflection 6

It is finished. (John 19:29-30)

The Pharisees might agree he is finished. The threat has gone and we are again in charge of the religion. We can again demand the keeping of the law as the way to go. We can again set up the tables in the temple which are so profitable for us.

The disciples, especially Peter, might agree he and we are finished. We have denied him and we have lost faith in each other. He was betrayed by Judas and all of us. We have lost touch with each other and we have lost him. But he loved us to the end. He loved us and we are bereft and in despair. He held us together and we are broken. We are a busted flush.

Where now, are all our protestations, we loved him, denied him and scattered.

The Romans might have agreed. He is finished we handed out the toughest of sentences. We don’t understand him but he was unpredictable to the end. He is safer dead: finished.

Jesus said it is finished. Come to me he said. It is finished I have done for them what they could not do for themselves. I have broken down the wall of perfection between the altar and the people. I have opened the way to God. I have shown a new way. I have made a new way. I have loved them to the end.  I am the way: The way to God and the way to know God and to walk with God.  I have redeemed them. I made them and |I died for them, to redeem them, to set them free and be mine.

We can say I am his and he is mine. We can say we are free to love him as daughter and son: As brother to the brothers and brother to the sisters. We were born in bondage cut off from our true selves and from him.  I am his true friend and servant because he suffered for me. He has carried my sins and born them away. We are released into the way of love and peace and hope.  This is the place where I am released to walk with him because I can see his wounds and know release to be who I am and know him as both creator and redeemer.  This is a new kind of Glory, a new reason for hope, as I see him I become like him.

It is finished, finished, finished, finished, finished.

Let the people claim their inheritance for it is finished, finished, finished, finished, finished!

David Randolph Horn

Good Friday Reflection 5

I thirst (John 19:28)

John’s gospel starts by telling us that “in the beginning was the Word”, that the Word was there when everything was created.

He was there when the water was separated from the land, when rivers were formed on the land.

He was there when Moses struck the rock with his stick at Horeb and water rushed forth.

He was there at the wedding at Cana when water was turned into wine.

And now he is here on the cross, he refused the drugged wine earlier, he is bleeding and dying. His mouth is parched, his tongue is sticking to the roof of his mouth and he says “I thirst”
And who responds? A soldier shares some of his thirst quenching drink.
“I was thirsty and you gave me a drink” (Matthew 25:35)

“The Word of Creation, the Word of Life has become flesh and made his dwelling amongst us”, he has become human and endured pain and thirst, he has allowed us to crucify him that we might find “living water”, that we might find life.

Mother Teresa sums up the words “I thirst” in her own reflection of Jesus’ thoughts from the Cross. “I thirst for you. I thirst to love and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to me. Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I thirst for you. Come to me. Thirst for me. Give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to my heart.”

Paul Magnall

Good Friday Reflection 4

My God, My god why have you forsaken me. (Mark 15:34 / Matthew 27:46)

Jesus is quoting here from Psalm 22 as his Jewish hearers would know, which is a psalm finishing in praise and comfort but not here.

This is Jesus’ most intimate, most human, cry. We are born into an attachment and being securely loved is an essential part of our well being as adults. Being abandoned as a child can and often does have appalling consequences for us. Jesus was loved in a warm Jewish community.  Being abandoned in Jewish society was a big deal. Jesus had lost his friends and now above all his God. He’d gone from the traditional Passover  meal, surrounded by friends and probably family, to total loss of all his psychological and spiritual world. The heart rending humanity of it reminds that Jesus was fully human. How easily do we own up to being and feeling totally abandoned? We have to feel utterly at rock bottom, utterly rejected, dismissed and ignored  by so-called friends, family, community, to say we are abandoned. Jesus had nothing, not even the comfort of his God. It’s the last abandonment, and the essence of what we can feel as human beings at our worst moments.

It’s an abandonment known by many around us. Prisoners, refugees, asylum seekers, those who are hated for things not their fault,  those killed for no reason but their faith, the old living in solitude and unable to go out, the child of abusing parents…the list could go on. Jesus is part of that list, at the end of his life. Dying a death which was a total abomination of torture, he is overwhelmed by the  feeling of abandonment by his God.

When we meet such a feeling of being abandoned in ourselves, we know that Jesus, in his humanity,  felt it too, and at that point may have lost as well any idea of resurrection. I don’t know. I do know  that at such moments hope is a word with no meaning, and we are left with faith alone.

But we learn from the mystics that when we have finally lost God, when the desert has nothing to give us but to show us how it ignores us, then we learn what God is and is not, and what God has to give us.  To be alone with an ignoring God is often part of our journey, and may be the richest part of it.

And above all Jesus’ abandonment calls us to be people who offer God’s compassion and love to the abandoned, to bring the resurrection story as well as the story of the cross.

Jan Betts

Good Friday Reflection 3

Woman, behold your son. Son Behold your mother. (John 19:26–27)

Dying on the cross Jesus gives his mother and his disciple to each other in love, knowing they would need each other in those coming days of grief and confusion. In such a moment of agony Jesus is still thinking of others – loving them, nurturing them. And nurture is something that has been talked about very much at All Hallows in the last few weeks.

How do we in our own need and grief and suffering when faced with the death of a loved one, or serious illness, or lack of stability in life use that to reach out to others?

Or do we instead prefer to curl up in a ball and hope those others will go away. Their hurts and anguish not really our problem, not really our concern.

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Andrew Shackleton but I remember hearing of his death around this time a couple of years ago and what I heard made me feel I had missed out. In the midst of his dying and departing from the earth what you told me was how he reached out to you, ministered to you, and nurtured you, still to the end concerned with your wellbeing.

It also raises questions for us about our own need to mother or nurture, those of us who have no children by choice are aware of the ways that God uses this to help us to find creative ways to nurture others – this is a concern that is ongoing for All Hallows as a whole I think given our ministry to LGBTI people and Asylum Seekers and one to continue to think about this Holy Week and Eastertide – how do we provide an alternative family to those forced to flee from their country, often still living in the UK in a state of trauma and isolation? Having to leave families that ordinarily would do the nurturing that God is now asking us to do for them. How do we nurture those who have been rejected for daring to be themselves and be true to their orientation and gender identity? How do we teach them that family can be good, that compromising who they are is not necessary to receive ours and Jesus’ love and acceptance? How do we offer to them the opportunity to hear, this church will be your mother?

Kerry Cockerham