Both these pieces depict the raw emotion of a Mother with her dead son. Can you feel the sorrow through the artwork?
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.
This painting was inspired by a drawing, kept in the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, Spain, which was done by Saint John of the Cross after he had seen a vision of Christ during a powerful spiritual experience. Dali talks of the unity of the world in Christ through his own interpretation. What does it speak of to you?
Song: Strange way by Martyn Joseph
A cleverly written song on the Crucifixion, have a listen to the lyrics and see what stands out to you and think about why.
We sometimes talk of nailing our burdens or our sin to the cross. What do you need to let go of and give to the Lord right now? Lift it to him in prayer.
Pray for those who are persecuted for their Christian faith around the world.
How do you feel about Judas? Was he purely evil? Was he deceived by the Devil? Do you think he had a choice about what he went to do?
Listen: Stations of the Cross by Malcolm Guite 7 and 8, click on the numbers to get the audio.
Painting: ‘The Bound lamb (Agnus dei)’ by Francisco de Zubaran click on the title to see the picture
The image of Jesus as the pure and innocent lamb is very powerful, especially as depicted here tied and bound and completely helpless. Does this help you to focus on the idea of Christ as a pure sacrifice? Or on the idea of betrayal? Have you ever betrayed Jesus?
Lift up to the Lord any situations where you feel you have let him down, perhaps even betrayed him, seek his forgiveness.
Pray for those who are helpless in our wider world, for example those starving in the current famine in East Africa. (Tearfund has some prayer points here)
Pray for those close to you who feel helpless in a situation they face
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.
And/or Join us for worship and prayer 8-9pm at TRINITY Southover
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 4. Click on the numbers to go to the audio.
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…
It’s great to be asked to review this book as Simon was my biblical studies tutor at college during my ministerial training. I am a big fan of the Psalms, but I also recognise that they are a bit like marmite, with some people choosing to read them as infrequently as possible. But I would say, don’t let that put you off, this might just be the book that helps you combat that!
Songs for Suffering is a wonderful guide for those in a season of struggling or as Stocks notes ‘for anyone who is going through tough times, whatever form that takes’. And it really is for anyone, written simply and not full of theological jargon, making it hugely accessible, but with a depth of knowledge evident from Stocks’ own academic experience.
Focussing on psalms of lament, the book takes us on a journey. Using personal reflections and stories from peoples lives, the author encourages the reader to deal with questions in their own lives, from personal failure, to issues of identity, and deeper still to despair, grief and personal suffering.
Each chapter guides us though a particular theme, asking questions for the reader to consider and pointing us to specific psalms for individual needs or circumstances. It is written in a very practical way, addressing how we can personally use the words of the psalms to deepen our own prayer life and each chapter finishes with some suggestions for what to do next.
However this is not just a practical guide, but a book filled with the authors own experience of life and pastoral ministry, written with compassion and a deep understanding of what it is to encounter personally, and come alongside those who suffer.
Stocks doesn’t shy away from difficult themes like shame, doubt and anger, but on the contrary embraces them with confidence, bringing a sense of assurance for the reader, encouraging them to engage with the themes for themselves.
Although my sense is that this is a book to work through from start to finish, it could also be something to dip into in particular times of trouble, or in supporting others facing difficult times, and in fact a helpful index at the end points to specific psalms for different circumstances.
Stocks reminds us afresh that The Psalms are a wonderful resource, passed down through the ages and used as the bedrock of Christian prayer for centuries, that are just as useful today, giving us the tools to pray in ‘just about any situation imaginable’ keeping us in touch with God even when pressures threaten to stop us.
The author notes: ‘may you find deeper connection to God, as you do so, even in the toughest of times…’ and this truly is a book that will help you do that.
Songs for Suffering will be published by Hendrickson Publishers Inc in April 2017. and can be pre-ordered at most good book stores online including Eden (priced £12.99) and Amazon (priced £11.99). There is also a website that goes alongside the book and will host other resources linked to lament at: www.cryhard.org
The Rev’d Dr Simon Stocks teaches Biblical Studies at St Augustine’s College of Theology, England (formerly known as SEITE). He is Chair of the Theological Educators’ Network and also ministers in the Anglican parish of Christ Church, Purley. After a career in civil engineering, he trained for ministry and worked in parish ministry in the Diocese of Southwark, before undertaking doctoral studies. His research interests include the interactions between poetic form and interpretation in Hebrew poetry, and the theology of lament.
You may or may not have heard of a type of evangelism called ‘Treasure Hunting’. Pioneered I believe by Kevin Dedmon at Bethel church it has become popular in the UK and I’ve been involved in taking out groups on a number of occasions. I’m now introducing it to my new church which is very exciting! Basically it means praying and asking God for some clues as to the people he wants you to reach out to in your town/venue/area. Then you go out looking for what God has shown you.
Here’s a couple of videos that give you a bit more of an idea what it’s about…
As part of what we are doing, I’ve produced some basic guidelines, which you can download here : treasure-huntingv2pdf and also includes a clue sheet, which might be helpful if you want to give it a go. Some of it is below also…
What is treasure hunting all about?
We are going out, seeking out the treasure God highlights to us. It’s fun but it is fundamentally about revealing the love of Jesus to people and blessing them.
Treasure hunting is basically prophetic evangelism. Prophecy is a word or a message from God, that he wants to be shared. Simplistically: Old Testament prophets spoke to the people on behalf of God; New Testament prophets point to Jesus. Treasure hunting is both. Evangelism is about sharing the good news of who Jesus is. So in treasure hunting the two go hand in hand, we are messengers of God and revealers of Jesus.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Many people are open to ‘the spiritual’ but not necessarily to Jesus or the church. Treasure hunting is a tool that can cut straight into people’s hearts, to reach them with a message they might otherwise be unwilling to hear.
What are we doing?
We are revealing Jesus to people, and his heart for them. We want to give positive messages of love, hope and truth that reach into people’s lives, where they are at.
1 Corinthians 14:3 (which is a message to the church largely but certainly appropriate here)
But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
Shawn Bolz, a man with a huge prophetic gift, always talks about prophecy and love going together – the prophetic has to be all about love. We are not pointing out anyone’s faults, sharing anything judgmental, or giving a corrective word. We simply want to bless people and open their eyes to Jesus.
” The first time we went out was crazy, it was a day of signs and wonders, gold dust appeared on us as we worshipped and prayed together, we went out for the treasure hunt and saw a lady healed of severe arthritis in her knees. When we saw her (one of our treasure maps had her exact description along with ailment and another map had her name) she could not walk up steps and had to be helped by her friend. Straight after we prayed for her she went bounding up the steps, we also saw her later in the day and she came running, yes running up to us, pointed her finger at us (yes, my initial thought was ‘oh what now’) and shouted, ‘My knees, my knees, I have no pain at all, for the first time in years”.
How do we do it?
In short: Pray, ask God for clues, then go out looking for the people he has highlighted!
Take a risk but be careful with your words
Don’t be afraid to get it wrong and don’t worry if people aren’t interested! God loves our willingness and passion to serve him, not our 100% track record! Be confident in the Lord and step out, ask him for courage. Don’t rush!
If you find someone who could be your treasure and matches some of your clues:
Explain what we are doing
Show them your clues
Ask if you can pray for them – is there anything specific?
Tell them where they can find out more if they want to follow this up.
Simply say ‘Hi, my name is… tonight we are taking part in a treasure hunt and we think you might be our treasure.’
Explain what we are doing
We are Christians and tonight we feel that God wants to show people here in the town, how much he loves them by making them treasure in a treasure hunt! So we’ve prayed for clues as to who is his treasure today and now we are out looking for them…
Show them your clues
Show your sheet and point out why you think it is them. Tell them how precious they are, how much God loves them and wants to bless them. If you have something specific like a condition written down, mention that and asks if it fits with them. Ask their name!
Ask if you can pray for them – is there anything specific?
You could offer to pray for any condition you have as a clue, you can ask them if they would like prayer for any area of their life or if they need healing at all. Be led by them.
Ask if you can place a hand on their shoulder, or if for healing (and if appropriate) at the site of pain, if not, just hold a hand near them.
If you feel any specific words or message for them, explain that we believe we are sharing what God has for them, but we can make mistakes so if anything doesn’t fit with them, they should ignore it.
Do not offer anything judgmental, everything should be rooted in love. If you feel like God might be wanting to highlight a difficult area, you could lead to it gently, eg: is there anything you feel sad about? Is there anything you would like to share with us? Is there anything troubling you that we could pray for? etc You can write things down as you go, so if they then reveal something, you can show them that God has highlighted it
Keep it simple and short. eg:
Lord thank you for X, thank you that they are your treasure, that you love them so much, that they are so precious to you etc…
Share anything specific you feel God might be saying.
Lord I ask that you would bless X today, fill them with the wonderful gifts of your kingdom,
With love, joy, peace, etc
Lay a hand on – ask first
Pray in Jesus authority/ in his name and use positive words like ‘be healed in the name of Jesus’, not begging prayers!
Ask how the pain is – scale of 1-10 etc. If appropriate offer to pray again, repeat.
Always finish by praying in the name of Jesus and Amen – then they know you have finished! Wish them well, tell them where they can find out more, and hope they have a nice evening etc
Want to find out more?
Two great books I would recommend are:
The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: A Guide to Supernatural Evangelism Through Supernatural Encounters by Kevin Dedmon, and
Translating God by Shawn Bolz
Also check out Kris Vallotton and Shawn Bolz, both who have an amazing prophetic gift and they both have podcasts and youtube channels.