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SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES
HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS
Monday, April 6, 2020
"When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the moneychangers and the stalls of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise. He taught them, "The scriptures declare," 'My temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." Mark 11:16-17 (The New Living Translation)
There comes a time when becoming outraged with what is happening is the only acceptable response. There are things that should cause you to be indignant. You should be aroused and agitated by abuse of any kind. A forceful change must be made in order to prevent continued misuse of authority that mistreats people. While it may not be popular, it is the right thing to do. That is what righteous indignation leads one to do.
Consider what it means for you to become righteously indignant.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
It was now two days before the Passover celebration and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death. But not during the Passover, they agreed, or there will be a riot. Mark 14:1-2
Religious faith does not exempt people from acting in conniving and devious ways. People of faith have the propensity of responding selfishly. People are basically concerned about their self-interest and how to protect it at all cost. We use our faith to our advantage and to the disadvantage of others. Mark 14:1-2 (The New Living Translation)
Consider what it means for people of faith to plan deviously to preserve and protect their self-interest while planning to hurt someone else.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, jar of expensive perfume. She broke the seal and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. Why was this expensive perfume wasted? they asked. She could have sold it for a small fortune and given the money to the poor! And they scolded her harshly." Mark 14:3-5 (The New Living Translation)
Love finds a way to make known its depth and width and length by being extravagant and lavish in its expression. Unfortunately, there are always those who think they know better than you how your love should be expressed. They are embarrassed by your example. In order to justify themselves they try to diminish the value of what you do by calling it a waste, sharing how it could have been done better when they did not do anything at all.
Consider what it means to express your love for the Lord extravagantly and lavishly.
Thursday, April 9, 2020 (Maundy Thursday)
As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God's blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying "Take it, for this is my body." And he took a coup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
Mark 14:22-23 (The New Living Translation)
Celebrating special moments that are lasting reminders of God's grace is what communion is all about. We gather as a community of believers in Christ to remember the sacrifice that was made for our salvation. Bread is used to represent the body that was broken to heal all the brokenness in the lives of people and the world. Fruit of the vine symbolizes the shedding of blood, the giving of one's life and life's substance so that others may live. We do this in remembrance of the One who gave himself for us.
Consider what it means that communion is a lasting reminder of God's grace, generosity and goodness.
It was nine o'clock in the morning when the crucifixion took place. A signboard was fasten to the cross above Jesus' head, announcing the charge against him. It read: King of the Jews." Two criminals were crucified with him, their crosses on either side of his. And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. Ha, look at you now! they yelled at him. You can destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, can you? Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross! Mark 15:2530 (The New Living Translation)
People can be cold and cruel, insensitive and injurious, mean and malicious. John Donne said, No man is an island, entire of itself; every person is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Any person's death diminishes me, because I am involved with humankind." The lost of any life is lamentable under any circumstances for all of life is a precious gift that no one has a right to take, abuse or misuse. Something dreadful occurred that devastated Mary and the acquaintances of Jesus. One in whom they have put their trust and on whom they have depended was falsely accused and cruelly murdered. In two short verses it is described with graphic poignancy.
“A crowd had gathered to see the terrible sight. Then after they had seen it, they felt brokenhearted and went home. 49 All of Jesus’ close friends
and the women who had come with him from Galilee stood at a distance and watched.” Luke 23:48-49
What do you do when it seems that all is lost and you feel helpless? Well, you can follow the custom of your community, perform the ritual of your faith and practice to the tradition of your tribe. (a) Community customs bring people together to at least watch what is happening even when they cannot prevent it for occurring. (b) Performing the ritual of your faith eases you through life's changes, transitions and uncertainty. (c) Practice the tradition of your tribe. People come together to do what they can to respond in the most plausible way they know to manage the awfully disturbing, distressing and disappointing reality.
There are discoveries in life that confuse us on the one hand as they delight us on the other hand. They are the kind of discoveries that exceed our expectations. However, we do not have an explanation about what has happened. What is clear is that our experience is one that goes beyond our wildest imagination, leaving us with only a declaration rather than an explanation. All we know is that the last opportunity we sought to do something about what has happened to us has been stolen and taken away. Feeling deprived of what we wanted to do, we go to others to share what we have discovered. John 20:1-10
There is an expression from several cultures which says, "what you lose in the fire, you fine in the ashes." How applicable to life is that. Physics teaches us that energy can't be created or destroyed, just transformed into something else. When the destructive forces of life that seem insurmountable consume you in their flaming grasp, remember all is not lost. Whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual there is a law in physics called "the conservation of energy." Life experiences even the destructive ones have a transformative power.
When what you have tried to build burns to the ground, there is still something left to let you know that it is not over, but an opportunity to begin again. The proverb embodies the idea of the phoenix, the mythical bird that perishes in the flames only to be reborn from the ashes. Unfortunately most of us focus on the loss we experience in the flames of destruction forces. In ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a long lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associate with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
However, ash which results from an erupting volcano is not bad for it can be rich in nutrients and serve as terrific fertilizer for what grows after the eruption dies down. Many fail to look for the usefulness of the ashes in their life situations. Sometimes it takes the ashes to burn off the dross and reveal the true value, the worth hidden within.
Here is a principle of life about reality. Whatever is loss provides the opportunity to start all over and begin anew. Following destruction is creation.
God raises Jesus from the worst destructive force of humanity in order to make us aware that life survives the worst that can happen and rises from the ashes in perpetuity with newness of existence.
With his death, burial, resurrection and ascension as Paul says, "Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy1:10). Death is potent but not omnipotent. There are some things that death cannot do. Death cannot cancel the contribution that a person makes in a lifetime nor limit the length of the legacy that a loved one leaves behind. Death cannot erase the experience we hold dear nor mar the memories we keep near. Death rather than extinguishing life expands existence to be more encompassing of reality in all of its fullness without any barriers, hindrances or obstacles. Jesus' resurrection reminds us that this is not all there is and that there is still more existence that is yet to be. "Death where is your sting? Grave where is your victory?" (I Corinthians 15:55-56).
Death where is your sting? Sting where is your grave? Grave where is your victory? He got up. God raise him up. He got up with all power in his hand.