Because He lives I can face tomorrow – in Korea, in Malaysia, in Alberta, and in Jamaica: A Good Friday and Easter Message

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton

Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A Prayer for the Decade of Evangelism.

NEWS

During this past week my mind was entirely focused on the two events to come  over the weekend. Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But yet other news caught my attention. In general news of suffering and pain.

1.South Korea ferry disaster: Families’ anger erupts

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27092751

After more than three days, divers have now finally entered the ferry, retrieving 26 bodies and bringing the death toll to 58.

However, another 244 people are still missing from the Sewol ferry, which sank on Wednesday.

Some 174 passengers were rescued.

The link and the quote from the BBC newsfeed tells the story of pain and suffering. What it omits is the fact that the VP of the school from which so many of students came, committed suicide. What a tragedy!

2.Calgary cop’s son charged in mass killing 

http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/04/15/five-dead-in-stabbing-at-house-party-in-northwest-calgary

In the worst mass killing in Calgary’s history, five young adults were stabbed to death during a Brentwood house party.

The accused, the son of a senior Calgary Police Service officer still in hospital as of Tuesday night over concerns of his mental state, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

“The scene was horrific,” said a visibly shaken police chief Rick Hanson at a press conference, adding each victim was stabbed several times.

The killings happened at a house party celebrating Bermuda Shorts Day at the University of Calgary, and the accused in custody is the son of a senior police officer, Insp. Doug de Grood, a 33-year veteran.

The accused is 23-year-old Matt de Grood.

The last entry on his Facebook account read: “Dread and the fugitive mind- the world needs a hero” apparently referencing two Megadeth songs.

Yet another tragedy that happened during Holy Week. And we know in Jamaica how the ‘devil let loose’ during Lent, and therefore how much more active he would be as Good Friday approached.

3. Nearer to  that which occupies a lot of my time and energy was another heart breaking event which happened this week. This time in California.

10 Killed in Bus Crash; Southern California High School Students Aboard
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/tour-bus-fedex-crash-northern-california-los-angeles-students-254835921.html

Investigators are trying to determine what went wrong on a Northern California highway Thursday night, when a delivery truck crossed into oncoming traffic and slammed into a bus carrying prospective college students from Southern California, leaving 10 people dead.

California Highway Patrol officials and other public safety personnel said at a news conference Friday morning that nine people died at the scene of Thursday’s crash and a 10th victim died at a hospital. Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit. Thirty-one victims were hospitalized after the crash.

THE WORD OF GOD

So what inspired word or Word did The Lord  lead me to read and reflect on and write about this week, as we approached the most holy period in the calendar of the  Christian Church.
Well, first of all I did not write anything until Maunday Thursday. I mostly listened to what was going on around me; in the spiritual realm as well as in the secular. An approach to life that one of my favorite theologians, the late Rev. John Stott, recommends in one of his many books. The so called ” Double Listening”.
And I only wrote late in the evening before the traditional ” wash foot’ service which, in our tradition,  begins at 7:00 am, and signals the Vigil we keep until Sunday Morning, because of a request. I have posted the link below which appeared in the online edition of the Daily Gleaner, and also subsequently  posted on FaceBook and  Twitter. The Topic?  A Christian Perspective on Good Friday.

THE FIRST MESSAGE

Good Friday changed the world forever – Lead Stories – Jamaica …
2 days ago … Good Friday, a most intriguing name for a day of suffering and shame, according to the Christian faith, is the most Holy Day of the year for …
jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140418/lead/lead8.html

THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent to my children who live abroad in a land where there are no public holidays to facilitate the kind of intense worship that we are privileged to have in Jamaica. A Message which came during my devotions.Bookmarked by a challenging Word of God and a reassuring hymn, the word of which share a promise which only the events of Good Friday and Easter could possibly validate. About  the words of a song which came into my head and which I had not seen not heard for a while. And another one which we sing in Jamaica regularly ‘ in season and out of season’. 


THE MESSAGE

Sent for your reflections on a day when you may not have that much time to worship.
Dad

Then everyone deserted him and fled. (Mark 14:50 NIV)…last night

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)…this morning
I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful, but I have never read in either of them; ” Come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden”. – Augustine

YOUR ONLY SON, NO SIN TO HIDE
BUT YOU HAVE SENT HIM
FROM YOUR SIDE
TO WALK UPON THIS GUILTY SOD
AND TO BECOME THE LAMB OF GOD

YOUR GIFT OF LOVE THEY CRUCIFIED
THEY LAUGHED AND SCORNED HIM
AS HE DIED
THE HUMBLE KING THEY NAMED A FRAUD
AND SACRIFICED THE LAMB OF GOD

O LAMB OF GOD SWEET LAMB OF GOD
I LOVE THE HOLY LAMB OF GOD
O WASH ME IN YOUR PRECIOUS BLOOD
MY JESUS CHRIST THE LAMB OF GOD

I WAS SO LOST I SHOULD HAVE DIED
BUT YOU HAVE BROUGHT ME TO
YOUR SIDE
TO BE LEAD BY YOUR STAFF AND ROD
AND TO BE CALLED A LAMB OF GOD

O LAMB OF GOD SWEET LAMB OF GOD
I LOVE THE HOLY LAMB OF GOD
O WASH ME IN YOUR PRECIOUS BLOOD
TILL I AM JUST A LAMB OF GOD

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

THE THIRD MESSAGE

The next substantive message was one sent to members of my church after some words shared during a sermon on Good Friday stayed in my head, and  triggered this response.

THE MESSAGE

This wonderful hymn was referenced by young Rev. Larius Lewis during ” The Seven Words of the Cross” today.  And during which sermon on ” Today you shall be with me in Paradise”, he suggested that if the thief on the cross could be assured of entering Paradise with Jesus, because he repented, unlike the other one, and believed that Jesus was the Son of God, then anyone can get to heaven…..” and as they say in the country, even dog, puss and rat”. And therefore we must be careful of ‘writing off ” people because we think that we are good and they are  evil. 

Off course we are always mindful of the issue of cheap grace, and Bonhoeffer speaks a word about it in the link below which I placed on my facebook page during this ‘conversation’.
https://www.facebook.com/lucien.jones.9/posts/10152783012369129

622. There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

Text: William Cowper, 1731-1800 
Music: 19th cent. USA campmeeting melody (CWH attrib. to Lowell Mason) 
Tune: CLEANSING FOUNTAIN, Meter: CMD
1.    There is a fountain filled with blood 
  drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; 
  and sinners plunged beneath that flood 
  lose all their guilty stains. 
  Lose all their guilty stains, 
  lose all their guilty stains; 
  and sinners plunged beneath that flood 
  lose all their guilty stains. 

2.    The dying thief rejoiced to see 
  that fountain in his day; 
  and there may I, though vile as he, 
  wash all my sins away.
  Wash all my sins away, 
  wash all my sins away; 
  and there may I, though vile as he, 
  wash all my sins away. 

3.    Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood 
  shall never lose its power 
  till all the ransomed church of God 
  be saved, to sin no more. 
  Be saved, to sin no more, 
  be saved, to sin no more; 
  till all the ransomed church of God 
  be saved, to sin no more. 

4.    E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream 
  thy flowing wounds supply, 
  redeeming love has been my theme, 
  and shall be till I die. 
  And shall be till I die, 
  and shall be till I die; 
  redeeming love has been my theme, 
  and shall be till I die. 

5.    Then in a nobler, sweeter song, 
  I’ll sing thy power to save, 
  when this poor lisping, stammering tongue 
  lies silent in the grave. 
  Lies silent in the grave, 
  lies silent in the grave; 
  when this poor lisping, stammering tongue 
  lies silent in the grave.
Peace as we continue the weekend vigil with Christ.
LWJ

THE FOURTH MESSAGE – this time  sent to people of power in my country. And  which prayer was blogged and  triggered a posting on Twitter, and hence sent all over the world,  by a friend, Christian sister, and Blogger, Jean Lowrie-Chin. The results of which collaborative efforts only God will determine. And we do not need to know or concern ourselves with it either.

http://lowrie-chin.blogspot.com/2014/04/easter-vigil-prayer-for-jamaica.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&m=1

Message and Prayer from Dr Lucien Jones:
As we continue this vigil, the words of the Psalm for today 130, encourage us to be vigilant in prayer for ourselves and for our nation and the world; at all times, but even more so as we await the celebration of the glorious resurrection of our Lord.
In this context then I recall, again young Rev. Larius Lewis, posing the question yesterday during the Three hour service, how long will those who have power keep it? Forever?! No, as even though those looking on and hearing Jesus promising the thief that he would be with him Today, in Paradise, thought that because they had the power over Jesus, all what He was saying was pure foolishness. Until, only until, the temple was destroyed, dead men got up and walked and were seen in Jerusalem. So these men of ‘power’, in that situation, only had a few hours before, they lost all power before the Almighty God.
So then my friends in Christ Jesus, as the Psalmist declares that:
” I wait for The Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for The Lord 
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning” Ps.130:5-6
Let us prevail upon the promise of God. And wait upon Him who declares that:
God is our refuge and strength
an ever present help in times of trouble”.
Therefore we wait upon The Lord in faith and hope and pray with certainty that:
– the pall of death hanging over our nation, like a sword of Damocles, because of the action of wicked men with the power of the gun will not last forever.
– that the state of economy weakened by years of living above our collective means, together with other reasons, and which has occasioned the need for the GOJ of Jamaica to ‘pick our pockets’, every time we withdraw money from the bank will not last forever.
– we pray O Lord that those men and women of Power who hold sway over our economy, who control the value of our exchange rate by virtue of their control of the invisible hand of the Market, and who, when they make decisions to benefit their own selfish gains rather than the collective good of the people, as others do, that such a situation may not last forever O Lord.
– that the ‘wretched of the earth’, the poor and the helpless, who suffer immeasurably when there is a water shortage, that this situation will not last forever.
– that those who prey upon our children, abuse our young girls and increasingly sodomize our young boys, many of which wicked men are men of power and substance in our nation, that we pray O God with certainly, that this situation will not last forever.
– that our schoolchildren O God, who are being raised in broken homes, and possessed of little training in righteousness, and go to school and terrorize others – teachers and fellow students -, that this situation, O God, will not last forever.
– that men and women made in your image but marginalized by ‘powers and principalities’, and by what we have done and left undone, and who live in substandard housing, in privation, in inner cities prone to violence and disease, that O God, that situation may not last forever.
– that the spirit of the air, and the spirit of disobedience which has caused so many people to rebel against your precious Word, O God, and thus resulting in serious moral decay in the nation, outrageous displays of nakedness, increasing attraction to pornography, and the circulation of explicit sexual acts captured on video, declining numbers of people who live in Holy Matrimony, all encouraged by men and women with power, that this situation will not last forever.
– that people will no longer ‘dress up the wounds of your people’, and label what is Sin and an abomination in your eyes, alternate lifestyles and the choice women make about their bodies. O God, we pray and believe that this situation will not last forever.
– that your church may no longer continue to ‘forget our first love’, Christ Jesus and Him Crucified, and His Grace which is sufficient for all situations, and descend into controversies, error , heresy and turn to gods, which our forefathers did not know.
– Finally, in the words of the hymn writer ( And now O Father…571) we present before you ‘ our dearest and our best’, and ourselves Lord, that you may not look on us, ‘ and our misusings of thy grace’, but on , ” the only offering perfect in thine eyes, the one true pure eternal sacrifice’, of the Blood of the Lamb, Christ Jesus
O God we are praying and waiting, as we wait for the celebration of your blessed resurrection tomorrow. We are praying and waiting as the watchman waits for the morning. We are praying and waiting for you to put new life into all things, even as, with power you raised your Son Christ Jesus to new life with you and the Holy Spirit, One God. So dear God, breathe new life into the dead bones of your church, and make it become a vast army in this country; breathe new life into our nation Jamaica, and make it become a vast army to spread your word abroad. Breathe new life into the situation in Palestine, where Jews and Muslims have been at war for decades; into Syria; into decadent America and struggling South America and Africa; breathe O God, the new life of Christ Jesus into the Far East, in an area of the world where, for the most part, your Word is neither obeyed nor believed; and new life into Europe which was once the cradle of Christianity but now sadly in large numbers has turned away.
These and other mercies, we ask, as we wait upon you O Lord, in the precious Name of Christ Jesus – our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Final Comment: I share two thoughts I heard today. One by Rev.  Dr. Garnett Roper a theologian who heads up the Jamaica Theological Seminary, and for his ‘sins’ is also the Chairman of  the Public Transport Body in Jamaica, the JUTC. He shared the view during a radio broadcast this morning on RadioJamaica 94FM, that without (the assurances of new birth and promises of eternal life….my words)  the worldview that Christianity offers, without Jesus Christ and Him  Crucified and raised from the dead, life does not make any sense. And he then referenced the continued and heart breaking story of Flight 370, and that all evidence so far points to fact that  239 persons are most like dead and on their remains lie at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, to add weight to his point. How do the families of these  dead souls, cope if not for the assurances that Christianity offers? And I thought further, that if the Vice Principal of the school in Korea where so many of his students died, has really understood Jesus’ offer as posed in the earlier message, ” “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”, he would be alive today.
Because he who offers rest for the weary, can and has brought new life into all things; all because of Good Friday and Easter. And the same offer is available for those families that lost loved ones in the fiery crash in California, and in Calgary. As the extended message from the prayer offered up to God over the weekend is that, even death will not have power  over us forever. All because Jesus rose from the empty Tomb on that first Easter.

The second one comes from the sermon shared this morning  at my church, by Canon. Major Sirano Kitson. He was speaking about Easter, and in Whom we are to place our trust, because of the Risen Christ. So therefore, even when we are tempted to be distraught because the Minister of Finance has decided to place a  tax on any money withdrawn from the bank, we are to remember the One who is faithful to us in all situations and circumstances.  The he shared the words of hymn with us, which we sang together, and hopefully will pledge to keep the assurances before us each and every day, ‘ in season and out of season’, long after Good Friday and Easter would have passed. All because Jesus lives!

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives! 

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives! 

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives! 

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Amen.

Advertisements

One thought on “Because He lives I can face tomorrow – in Korea, in Malaysia, in Alberta, and in Jamaica: A Good Friday and Easter Message

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s