Holy Week Reflection 7 // Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday – in the Grave

Read: Luke 23:50-56

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 13 and 14 click on the numbers to get the audio

 

Artwork: two choices today:

‘The Deposition’ Ugolino de Neriolook close up at the faces of Mary and Jesus 

 

or Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ sculpture (click on the titles to see the paintings)

 

  • Both these pieces depict the raw emotion of a Mother with her dead son. Can you feel the sorrow through the artwork?

 

Prayer Points:

  • As we come to the end of the week’s reflections, why not commit yourself afresh to the Lord? You could use this prayer – The Methodist Covenant Prayer which Methodists repeat every year in committing themselves afresh to the Lord.

 

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

 

 

 

Holy Week Reflection 5 // Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday – The Last Supper

Read: Luke 22: 7-30 and/or John 13:1-17

  • What, if anything, stands out to you? 

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 9 and 10, click on the number to hear the audio

 

Painting: ‘Journey with Jesus’ by He Qi click on the title to see the image

 

  • There is much symbolism and many references in this picture, what stands out to you?
  • Where would you be in this picture?

 

Prayer Points:

  • Focus on the line from Luke ‘…my blood is poured out for you…’ Spend some time thanking God for the amazing sacrifice he made for you.
  • Pray for those in positions where service is key, perhaps the emergency services, medical staff or armed forces.
  • Pray for those who serve you personally. At home, work, church or in the community…

 

 

Holy Week Reflection 3 // Tuesday

Tuesday – The Greatest Commandment

Read: Matthew 22: 34-40, perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • How important are these commandments to you in your life? In what ways do you show the love of Christ in your daily life?

 

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 5 and 6(click on the numbers of get the audio)

Painting: ‘God Hold Me’ by Charlie Mackesy

Available here but you need to scroll down to item 74

 

 

  • Can you imagine yourself in this painting?
  • Can you think of a time when you have experienced God holding you in this way? Perhaps you might need to experience this now in a situation you face?

 

Article: Holy Week in an Unholy World

 

  • Does this article resound with you?

 

Prayer Points:

  • As above, imagine God holding you in an embrace like the painting. Can you invite him into a particular situation you are facing?
  • For situations in the world that need God’s embrace more than ever right now, for example for those grieving in Syria
  • For someone you know who needs to feel God’s embrace afresh today

 

Visit: Pop into our Easter Encounter Space at TRINITY Southover, open all day today from 10am – 10pm. Explore the Easter story through the prayer stations.

 

Holy Week Reflection 2 // Monday

Monday – Cleansing of the Temple

 Read: Mark 11: 15 – 19, perhaps 2 or 3 times.

  • What, if anything, stands out to you?
  • What are the things that make you angry? Why not spend some time thinking about a time when you were angry, frustrated or annoyed recently. Spend some time reflecting on how Jesus might have reacted to that situation?

Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 3 and 4Click on the numbers to go to the audio.

Illustration: Modern interpretation of Christ driving the money changers from the temple’ by Anthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger (click on the title to see the image)

  • What is your instant reaction to this picture? What emotions does it raise in you? Do you think it is fair as a modern interpretation?

Article: Following Jesus Means Being Political and Advocating for “The Least of These”

Following Jesus Means Being Political and Advocating for “The Least of These”

  • Does this article resound with you?
  • Does following Jesus mean being political to you?

 

Prayer Points:

  • If you feel led to do so, pray into the situations you thought about above where you experienced anger.
  • Pray for an issue of injustice, for example those who suffer because of race, religion or sexuality.
  • For those you know who struggle with unresolved anger

Holy Week Reflection Resources

For Holy week at my church, I have gathered a selection of resources and ideas to use as an aid to prayer or as a reflective tool, as we remember the week that Christ. Feel free to reuse or point people to it.

I have included passages of scripture from the Holy Week narrative, paintings and images, poetry in the form of Malcolm Guite’s, ‘Stations of the Cross’ and prayer points, so there is plenty of variety. You might find you just want to focus on one theme, perhaps just choosing to listen to the stations of the cross each day and reflecting on those, or looking at the paintings and seeing what thoughts they raise in you, you can do as much or as little as you would like or have time for.

There is a section for each day and I have kept the items, questions and prayer points simple so that if you are short of time you could do all of it in 10-15 minutes each day, but there is also scope to spend much longer if you would like.

The purpose of this set of resources is to encourage and enable you to interact with the truth of the gospel message afresh in your personal faith. Some of the ideas might be more accessible to you than others, some might challenge you or make you think, others you might simply skim over. There is no right or wrong way of going through this, it is up to you…

 

First one up tomorrow and I’ll publish them each day until Holy Saturday…

JOY // Guest post from Ben Hollebon

joyBlogGraphicJPG

 

This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my one word for the year). This month we have a post from a friend of mine – Ben Hollebon.

 

 

I love making films. It’s one of those things I just enjoy in every part of the process. Capturing that clip that you know is going to solidify your story when it comes to the edit is so satisfying.

I love God. Spending time with Him gives me peace. I can’t describe in words the reassurance His everlasting faithfulness brings to my life.

I ask God for stuff in prayers. I know it’s a bit cheeky and they’re not always things that I necessarily need, but I ask anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it works that you ask God for something in a quick prayer, He snaps His fingers and suddenly there’s a fanfare outside as the National Lottery pitch up at your front door with a nice big cheque for a few million. I think God is cleverer than that. He is interested in our hearts desires and giving us gifts; but these gifts are not meant to be held tightly and relished by ourselves alone. Instead, they’re meant to be used to glorify His name, His grace, His mercy and His love.

God gave me a gift last year. It was pretty amazing and I can tell you now – it made me rather joyful. He gave me the gift of a brand new job; one that I didn’t know existed, one that I wasn’t looking for, and in fact one that wasn’t even advertised. My wife saw a job advertised on Twitter (she’s never on Twitter and what are the chances she was on just as this was tweeted?). I went for the interview and didn’t get the job; but they told me there was another job, that wasn’t being advertised yet that they thought I’d be perfect for. So I came back a month later and interviewed successfully for it.

What do I do now? I make films for The Church of England. I work up in Westminster and get to communicate stories of the God I love through the medium that I love. God wants us to be fulfilled through His provision.

This Remembrance video, used in many churches and across Social Media is one of those Ben made.
Pretty cool right? God knows my hearts desires and wants me to be fulfilled in life; but He also challenges me to use the good things He provides to make a difference in this world. This isn’t just a “nice gig” nor is it God giving me a break and moving on. I feel called to work here and with that comes the responsibility that what I am doing is for God’s Kingdom. 

My joy this Christmas is knowing that I have a God who not just knows my every need, but finds ways to meet those needs in ways I could never have imagined. My God can literally find the perfect job for me, where I can use the skills He has blessed me with to communicate His Gospel each and every day.

And my God is your God; is our God; is THE God who loves us all immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.

I wonder what gift He has waiting for you to unwrap…

 

benhollebonprofile

 

Ben Hollebon works for The Church of England Communications Team at Church House in Westminster. He makes films and loves all things digital. He even got shortlisted at the Jerusalem Awards this year. He is married to Pollyanna and together, they have a cat called Herbie.

 

Joy // Guest Post from Jacqueline Peart

joyBlogGraphicJPG

 

This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my word for the year). This month we have a post from Jacqueline Peart who I met when we both did the Woman to Woman show on Premier Radio earlier this year.

 

 

 

What Joy Means to Me!

It’s a real joy (no pun intended :-) to be sharing a guest blog on Apples of Gold. Jules and I met at Premier Christian Radio where we were both guests on the Woman to Woman Show with Maria Rodrigues. Within a short time, it was clear that both Jules and I (and Maria of course :-) were real ‘joy carriers’. During the show, we discussed some sober topics and yet there was still room for laughter as genuine warmth filled the air.

So, the question I was asked to address today is, what does joy mean to me?

Joy is a fruit of the spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22, and if I could capture its essence, I would say it comes from within; it is a gladness and a warmth; joy is alive and I believe it is a strength and a choice.

I decided to start writing this blog right after unexpectedly receiving some sad news because I wanted to be sure that what I was getting ready to write was authentic and achievable.

Can I tell you? It is and it was!

You see, happiness is dependent on things that ‘happen’ to us or around us, but joy is resident, it doesn’t go and come depending on our emotions or circumstances. Joy is alive irrespective of life’s up’s or down’s; and despite receiving sad news – as I write – I still choose joy; and in choosing joy there is hope.

I write poetry and inspirational thoughts and several years ago I wrote a piece called, ‘Are you a joy carrier or a joy quencher?’

Joy carriers have the ability to transform an atmosphere or a situation. They can see the glass as half full and they transfer the joy they carry to those around them. Joy is and should be contagious. Those who come into your presence weighed down with the issues of life should be able to draw from that ‘joy-well’ and leave carrying their own joy.

However, ‘joy quenchers’ have the distinct ability to sap your energy and joy. They see only half empty glasses and, equally, they have the ability to change an atmosphere that was once joyful to one stifled by ‘sorrow’, the antonym of joy.

Premier1

Jules, Maria & Jacqueline at Premier Radio

The bible says in Nehemiah 8: 10 that, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, and I can say I am living proof of this truth. The Joy that comes from the Lord continues to by my strength!

So, what does joy mean to me? In a nutshell it means carrying something that has the ability to ignite, lift, encourage and build up self first and then others.

If you’ve identified yourself as a ‘joy quencher’, get around some ‘joy carriers’ and allow their joy to impact you. Read books about joy, find scriptures on joy and find what makes you smile.

You’ll be glad you did!

 

About Jacqueline Peart

Jacqueline is the founder and CEO of Jacqueline Peart International Ministries a charity birthed with a mission to ‘transform lives through wholeness.’ She is an ordained minister, inspirational speaker, poet, mentor, entrepreneur and author, who is known, loved and respected for her honesty, openness and ability to ‘keep it real,’ as she teaches and ministers.

Jacqueline is the author of a number of books including the book series ‘Inspirations for…’ a collection of inspirational thoughts and poetry, ‘Will the Real Women of Destiny Please Stand UP? Study book on the life of Rahab and the ‘Wholeness Equation’.

As well as speaking nationally and internationally, she runs a training and development business, ‘Training With Purpose International Ltd’ (TWPI), offering high quality training and development solutions to church and secular organisations alike.

You can find her on Twitter @jacquelinepeart

 

Movement of Love (again)

Mol_logo2

So I’ve been going on about this for ages I know but it seems that God is taking the whole #MovementOfLove thing to another level. So as you know I’ve been writing and preaching about this theme for a while and I have been promoted to actually do something with it. But you know I never felt it was the right time and anyway I’ve been preparing for Ordination and Curacy, and if there was ever a time not to take on something new it would be now, I have enough ‘new’ to keep me going for a while!

However earlier this week I was praying and I felt God prompting me that now was the time. Well, my reaction was not entirely positive for the reasons I just said. So I put a short line on my FB and Twitter to see if anyone might be up for joining in with it. At the same time I prayed, Lord I need a sign! I’m not normally one to do that, I’m happy to be led by prayer and prompting, but this needed more.

So, cue masses of positive feedback and support, emails from people in positions of responsibility who thought it was a good idea. Hmm, ok God…. But in a moment of ‘me of little faith’ I asked for another sign, so the following day I headed off to a Christian conference and left it in God’s hands. Mid afternoon there was a prophetic word given out that pretty much matched what I had been thinking and when I went to talk to the person who gave it after, he went into more detail and I knew I couldn’t ignore it any more. Plus by that evening I had a few people committed to helping run it and one key person in Cate Williams (Mission and Evangelism Officer for Gloucester Diocese) who was up for helping getting it all going.

So I know it’s crazy, I have enough to be doing right now, and I am well aware of time constraints and being careful but I just know God is in this and so ‘Movement of Love’ is launching Monday morning… (and yes my Training Incumbent does know about it!)

So if you want to know more, here’s the blurb below, but do sign up to the Facebook page and Twitter and please join in, the idea is to be a community where everyone inputs and everyone receives, it won’t be me and Cate running the whole thing (apart from anything else neither of us have the time for that!). The launch will be at 8.30am Monday so we’re asking people not to start sharing the page or links until then so as to create a real buzz, but for now please do like the page :)

MoLbanner2

Movement Of Love is a new online community (launching officially Monday 4th July) for people who want to spread a message of love across our nation, to counteract the hate. It is for anyone and everyone who wants to see a difference and bring a more positive atmosphere to their communities, towns and country. We have an opportunity and a desire to speak love and life into our nation from the ground up. 

Why?

Like many, we are struggling to come to terms with what we are hearing in the news and concerned at the current levels of hate and anger in our nation. Recognising the disappointment, anger and hurt that many are expressing we realise we have a choice at this point about whether to despair, or, to hope.

We may not be able to do anything politically or change decisions that have been made but we can choose not to partner with hate, darkness and ill feeling. We can be a part of the healing of our nation’s divisions and the making of a better society.

What?

Movement Of Love is a new online community of people who want to see an attitude of love prevail across the nation. Anyone can join simply by agreeing to try and be a more loving presence in their daily lives.

The group of people who have started this off find inspiration in the Christian faith and in a passage many people will have heard read at weddings, 1 Corinthians 13, love is described as:

patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…

We hope that others will join us and pledge to have an attitude of love like this, impacting our nation from the ground up, regardless of their beliefs. We have set this group up for people of all faiths or none, for anyone who wants to be a part of a movement of love in our nation. We will be open and honest about our inspiration but we have no expectation that all who want to be a part of this movement share the same faith. We want and need to work together, because healing of what divides us is what this is all about. The message of God is that love is abundant, extravagant and beyond expectations. Our aim is to see more of this and less hate and bad feeling.

 

How ?

Anyone can join and we encourage you to:

  • Take the pledge: Simply agree to try and be a person of love. Sign up to the Facebook page or Twitter and join the community.
  • Put it into practice: We will be sharing ideas of things you can do to be a loving presence and we encourage you to share what you are doing, or ideas of how you can impact your community on a smaller or larger scale.
  • Get others involved: Use your networks – perhaps your school, workplace, church or organisation to share a message of love

 

What it is not!

Movement Of Love is not political and does not stand for any agenda other than sharing love and encouraging an atmosphere of love. There are plenty of places and ways to express criticism, hurt, pain, anger or strong opinions and agendas, so our aim is that this will be a community or place of peace.

 

Where Joy Resides // Guest Post by Ali Campbell

joyBlogGraphicJPG

 

This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my word for the year). This month we have Ali Campbell from ‘The Resource’.

 

 

Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss joy is to miss all.”    Robert Louis Stevenson

 

My eldest daughter, Hannah, was 4. It was a hot day in June and she begged me for a ride on the bike. At this time, although going great guns on a tricycle, “a ride on the bike” meant sitting behind me on a seat attachment while I pedalled.

We set off. Heading out of our road and off in to Lindfield, it was pretty much downhill all the way. There were squeals from behind me as we freewheeled our way to the park. We chained the bike and messed about in the park, climbing, swinging, running, hiding and jumping… all the usual stuff. Then came the time to head home. I’d been run ragged and was not looking forward to trudging back up the hill we had freewheeled down!

If I was tired, this was nothing compared to 4 year old legs on a hungry and worn out Hannah. I plonked her in the bike seat and began pushing the bike. Now, in my head this conversation started… I’m ashamed to remember it, but it went something like this, “Man, we need to get back… I’m shattered.” “I wish I was 4 and someone was pushing me up a hill… AND, we haven’t even GOT to the hill yet!” “Flip, I’m unfit!”…

When I say “conversation” as I said, it was in my head. One of those internal dialogues with myself I do. Maybe you do that? Anyway… there I am “monologuing” away to myself, now beginning to feel the burn in my calfs as I pushed up the incline.

I turned round for a moment. There. On my daughters face. A great big beam! She was grinning. She was chuckling away to herself. She was WAVING to the cars and pedestrians from her throne as I sweated and strained with the bike.

My internal dialogue would have shifted to a shout if It had been out loud. “WHAT does she think she is doing?” “THIS isn’t fun, if she could swap places with me for 5 seconds she wouldn’t be grinning and waving!” I think at this point my internal grumbling might have become an audible muttering under my breath as I continued to push and heave us up the hill.

Then.

From behind me my daughter suddenly exclaimed,

“I’m so happy!”

Boom. My internal voice of dissatisfaction, frustration, selfish and silly nonsense was stunned in to silence.

I felt tears prick my eyes.

Here we were, sharing a precious afternoon on this beautiful day – the same experience, the same time, seeing the same things, doing the same things (well, apart from the pushing from me and all the sitting from Hannah!)…

My daughter was full of joy and delight. That exclamation was unbidden, I hadn’t asked her how she was, if she had enjoyed the afternoon… it was just a natural response to what was happening, our time together, the fun of watching the world go by as her Dad pushed her up a hill!

I began to feel it. I began to feel a bit of the overspill of joy from my daughter. A different internal conversation began, “This is amazing!”, “What was wrong with me? I nearly missed this!” “How wonderful… !” Physically, I was not feeling wonderful (good grief my calves are burning!) but, suddenly I looked at our time together and the day completely differently.

joy_quoteJPG

I started above with a quote, “to miss joy is to miss all”. Did you know that kids laugh and smile about 400 times a day? Adults might hit 20 times on a good day.

Joy for me is found, increasingly, in delighting in what is right in front of me. As a dad I just don’t want to miss magic moments with my kids, and what that story showed with Hannah was, even though I was THERE – actually spending time with my amazing daughter, I nearly missed how special and precious that time was. It took my 4 year old to express her feelings in three simple words – I’m so glad I heard them and responded.

There is joy in the mundane, the ordinary, the regular, the usual moments of life. For a child there is a joy and wonder that overflows and creates those 400 laughs and smiles a day. I don’t want to become childish, but I do want to become more childlike. I want to regress and rediscover laughter, fun and joy at the heart of the everyday – EVERY day.

 

Ali CAli Campbell

Ali runs “The Resource” which is aimed at equipping, supporting and encouraging those who work with children, young people and families in the church and community. Ali is passionate about seeing this generation reached with the Good News and equipped to live life to the full – John 10:10! 

 

 

Joy // Guest Post from Dave Lucas

joyBlogGraphicJPG

 

This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my word for the year). This month we have Dave Lucas from organisation ‘Disability and Jesus’ guest posting. To find out more about the organisation, see their website here.

 

 

Five in the morning is not a time that most people associate with joy but in our household that is the time my guide dog Jarvis bounds in to our bedroom with whatever happens to be his favourite toy of the moment. It’s a real joy for me because being a guide dog owner is the single most transformative experience of my life. When I got the news of my sight loss back in 1987 I was full of rage, I had to stop driving which meant the end of my career, my life was turned upside down over night.

My chosen way of handling the news was to put my fingers in my ears and tell the whole world to “F Off”! This became my default position for more than ten years, simply refusing to face the issue and running away. During this period I developed lots of techniques to hide the severity of my sight loss. I would listen to the news on the radio but buy a newspaper and pretend to read it, I would memorise phone numbers so I didn’t have to look them up – at one time I sat down with a friend who didn’t think this was possible and wrote a list of over 300 phone numbers!

By the year 2000 things were so bad I could no longer hide it, I was crashing in to things and people, I could not walk in a straight line, I knew the game was up and something had to be done. When someone suggested a guide dog I was furious, a guide dog would be a big badge that told the whole world I had a problem, this was not cool, not cool at all.

In the meantime I was involved in the world of Celtic Christianity as part of the music team with the Northumbria Community. After many tantrums and a few tears ‘Guide Dogs’ managed to persuade me to be matched with a dog. Now here comes the good bit, they brought this eighteen month old black lab retriever, “this is Abbot” they said. I remember looking up and saying to myself “OK God, I get it”. The idea of me, a Celtic Christian, a new monastic being led by an abbot tickled me greatly! Abbot and I qualified on December the eighteenth 2001, and that was the Christmas filled with the most joy I’d had since as a kid I came downstairs to find a shiny new train set. Abbot gave me my life back, I found a new career, did an MA, moved house, started a business, all this in the eight years Abbot and I worked together – as one friend put it “he gave me my life back”.

In 2010 Abbot retired and along came Jarvis, Abbot lived on in a happy retirement with us until August 2015 but I feel his presence with me always. Jarvis is a totally different dog but equally fab and this is a great new chapter…

 

Dave Lucas

 

David Lucas is proud owner of guide dog Jarvis, he is an access auditor and low vision awareness trainer and co-founder of Disability and Jesus. Here he is with Jarvis.