GM: THIRD LENTEN MESSAGE; DISTRACTIONS AND PEACE IN GOD ALONE
It’s not easy. It is definitely not easy to concentrate on keeping a Holy Lent, when there are so many distractions.
Like Donald Trump tweeting early in the morning, accusing former President Obama, of ordering Trump Tower, his former home, to be wiretapped. Without offering any shred of evidence!
And some would say….heard on CNN last night…..triggered by a cynical attempt to deflect attention from the real news, not #fakenews, that members of his administration are under investigation for more serious stuff, that’s likely to emerge soon.
Like the head of the #Tabourinewarriors, defying an order to cease from #Saytheirnames. Without offering any shred of evidence! And then being arrested for a cyber crime. Thus triggering multiple protests and comments on social media, targeting the, female, acting head of the police force; a ‘ favourite priest ‘, because he, a man, dared to ‘ insert himself’, in the conversation; and a white, very liberal, gracious, and warm hearted blogger, for having a contrary viewpoint. All because of #Rage! Which some say ought to ‘ trump’, everything else. Even the established process of uncovering truth! Thus, becoming, in my view, guilty of, ‘ losing the plot’, as they were founded as an advocacy group, seeking to protect women from being sexually abused, injured and killed by men. But now, find themselves, in, and beyond the headlines, for the wrong reasons! While ‘ Rome continues to burn’!
Thank God in the midst of all of this, a dear Sister in Christ, sent me a reflection on Psalm 62. Thus putting an end to the distractions!
For who can but be moved to serious meditation, when, ” For God alone, my soul waits in silence”, confronts you in the opening verse. And then:
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken…..
Then comes this amazingly modem day contextually challenging revelation;
How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you……
Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse…..
Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them…..”
And whilst I spent my lunchtime reflecting on the need to focus on God, and God alone……nobody else…nothing else….not Trump’s budget leaving the arts ‘ high and dry…..not Finance Minister Audley Shaw’s budget leaving health insurance ‘ in a spin’….just God. In the background, in my mind, strains of this haunting Lenten hymn, joined the ‘ conversation ‘.
1 My spirit longs for thee
within my troubled breast,
though I unworthy be
of so divine a guest.
2 Of so divine a guest
unworthy though I be,
yet has my heart no rest
unless it come from thee.
3 Unless it come from thee,
in vain I look around;
in all that I can see
no rest is to be found.
4 No rest is to be found
but in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned,
and send it from above!
For increasingly, as I get older, hopefully wiser, and drawn closer to my blessed Redeemer God, this conviction gets stronger; that true rest is only found in God.
For after acquiring all the bling, if that is your thing; after feasting musically on #Adi, Buju….you wretch yu….Sean Paul, Adele, Montana or Destra, or Beethovens Fifth, or Handel’s Messiah….whatever is your thing; reading or having read to you Derrick Walcott’s…a giant of the Caribbean who died yesterday……poems….and feasting further on Claude McKay’s…if we must die, let us not die like hogs, hunted and penned; having shopped in ‘Gay Paree’, or London, or New York….one fine day you, and I, will have to meet our maker. Who alone offers, ‘ eternal rest ‘.
That’s why we must carefully about blandly, and without deep consideration, wishing that those who just died, RIP.
For the unvarnished Truth, is that, only those who die in Christ, are assured of that Peace.
“For God so loved the world…..that they should not perish.” John 3:16
And to perish, is to live without God and, not to enjoy the peace ‘ that passeth all human understanding ‘.
No wonder one of the most influential, not just an early church father, but of the entire western civilization, famously wrote:
“This is the famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) in which Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
It is in this context then, that the messages I was inspired to post on Facebook, after #ReadingagoodbookforLent, become relevant.
As we in the 21st Century, are, ‘ The children of Israel ‘, of this age, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, to spread the Gospel of the Redeeming love of Jesus Christ to a dying world. We, therefore can ill afford to become distracted by events, which will cause us to ‘ lose the plot’, and take our eyes off the Cross of Christ. Hence a deep understanding of what took place on Calvary is the most important ‘ fast ‘, we can engage in this Lent. As ” our souls in silence wait for God alone”. And who reveals Himself fully, only in and through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ.#GoodFriday
Why did Jesus die?
Step five 5⃣
Judas betrayed Jesus, ‘ handed him over ‘, because of greed. ” What other dark passions were seething in his heart, we can only guess, but John ( the Apostle) insists that it was monetary greed that finally overcame him.
It is not for nothing that Jesus tells us to , ‘ beware of all covetousness’, or that Paul declares the love of money 💰 to be, ‘ a root of all evil’. For in pursuit of money, human beings have descended into deep depravity.
Magistrates have perverted justice for bribes…..Amos ….they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals (2:6)…Politicians have used their power to give contracts to the highest bidder….businessmen have entered into shady transactions, jeopardizing the prosperity of others in order to get a better deal.
Even supposedly spiritual teachers have been known to turn religion into a commercial enterprise, and some are doing it today…..the language of all such people 👫 is the same as that of Judas: ‘ what are you willing to give me, and I will hand him over to you……..Jesus had said that it is impossible to serve God and money. Judas chose money. Many others have done the same”.
Rev. John Stott ‘ The Cross of Christ’ .
My Comment: It is in this context, inter alia, that we gain greater insight into the deep divide between rich and poor in Jamaica; the existence of #wrongadresses….and the role politics, and some politicians, and those who support them uncritically, have played in the emergence of #Garrisoncommunities……and the corruption of our music 🎵….sold to the higher bidder….regardless of #misogyny #gunlyrics #slackness….#dancehall and #carnival ….even the #Prosperitygospel… developments for which we all have a shared responsibility. For #thirtypiecesofsilver #repentance
#ReadingagoodbookforLent #Lent #GoodFriday
Usually ‘my’, early morning 🌅devotions are more structured. But every so often the Lord intervenes.
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’
A questioned posed by one of my favourite hymns, the words of which came flooding into my heart 💟 this morning.
Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For thy holy Nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for thee
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set thy people 👫free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore thee to Calvary:
O come to my heart Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for thee.
And history according to Holy Scripture, records this response in Acts 2:36-40
” Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you Crucified, both Lord and Christ.
When the people heard this , they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers what shall we do?
Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.
With many other words he warned them ; and he pleaded with them , Save yourself from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were Baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
Step six 6⃣ : why did Jesus die?
” The blaming of the Jewish people 👫 for the crucifixion of Jesus is extremely unfashionable today…….The way to avoid anti-semitic prejudice, however, is not to pretend that the Jews were innocent, but, having admitted their guilt, to add that others share in it……More importantly still, we are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed we have done it.
For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘ are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’. Hebrews 6:6.
We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ” Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the old negros spiritual asks.
And we must answer ‘ Yes ‘ we were there. Not as spectators only but as participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be Crucified. We may try to wash our hands like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands.
Before we can see the Cross as something done for us ( leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us ( leading us to repentance).
Indeed, ‘ only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the Cross, may claim his share in its grace.”
The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott.
Final word on ‘ why did Jesus die’?
” The answer which we have so far given to the question ❔, ‘ why did Jesus die?’, has sought to reflect the way in which the Gospel writers tell their story. They point to the chain of responsibility ( from Judas to the priests, from the priests to Pilate, from Pilate to the soldiers), and they at least hint that the greed, envy, and fear which promted their behaviour also prompts ours.
Yet this is not the complete account which the evangelists give. I have omitted one further and vital piece of evidence which they supply. It is this: that although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, did not die as a martyr.
On the contrary, he went the Cross voluntarily, even deliberately. From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to his destiny…….
Octavius Winslow summed it up in a neat statement: ‘ Who delivered up.Jedus to die? Not Judas for money 💰; not Pilate for fear 😱; not the Jews, for envy; – but the Father , for love.
It is essential to keep these two 2⃣ complementary ways of looking on the Cross.
On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who Crucified him.
But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave him up to die for us. As we face the Cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, ‘ I did it, my sins sent him there’, and, ‘ he did it, his love took him there.’ ”
The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott
My Comment: For this reason, God’s redeeming love is available to all mankind. Whether Tambourine Army or those who commit violent acts against women; whether Kartel or Kevin Downswell; whether Jews or Gentile; whether Muslim or Christian; whether Gay or Straight; whether dancehall or carnival lovers; whether Trump or Obama; whether green or orange; whether backslider or Bishop; whether Moravian or Baptist; whether you live in Norbrook or in a #wrongaddress; whether you were in the headlines today or operate way beyond the headlines. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And there is only One Mediator between man God. Christ the Crucified One.
Finally a prayer/verse of a hymn, one of my favourite, and posted on Facebook, offers a benediction for this message.
Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
and only look on us as found in him;
look not on our misusings of thy grace,
our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
for lo, between our sins and their reward
we set the Passion of thy Son our Lord.
May God forgive us all for misusing His Grace, freely offered to all, in the Life, Death, Ressurection and Ascension ( thus sending the promised Holy Spirit) of His only Son. Jesus Christ, the Crucified One.