23rd March 2021- Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

Here and There- Scene 5- Anguish

 

Comments and follow up from Last Week's theme of “Living With Tension”.…..

 

Last week in our  Conversations and reflections we were asked to comment upon the following questions:

 

1 How do you personally respond to: a) government guidelines you may not agree with; b) other people flouting restrictions; c) people you disagree with in a wider context?

 

2 What do you think may have been the implications for anyone who stood up against Pilate’s judgement in the crowd?

 

3 Can we or should we find ways of trusting and living with other’s decisions?

 

My grateful thanks to all who offered their thoughts and comments.

 

Our Responses

 

From Rev Peter

 

Dear Colin,

You’ve given us a lot to think about this week. Mainly the gospel story is about the power of the crowd and the power of a few determined people to sway the opinion of a crowd. We have seen both powers displayed over and over again very recently. If only we could use them in favour of the Gospel!

The narrative from the Barabbas’ victim’s widow was very imaginative and one we would rarely think about. No one dared speak up for her, or in favour of Jesus, against the power of the priests! Pilate at least tried to put in a feeble word in favour of Jesus but even he was no match for the priests.

Turning to the present, I accept the authority of the elected government to make the rules, that is what we elected them for. We know they are only human like the rest of us and will sometimes make mistakes or make what we think are wrong decisions. We learn to accept that in a democracy. At the same time we know some people will find that hard to learn and in some instances it will show up in their behaviour. Then we have to learn that since God has made each of us with a mind and will of our own we cannot expect that others will see things exactly as we do or conform in the way we think they should. Some things are worth a confrontation or discussion, others are not. At the end of the day we sometimes learn that the decisions we thought wrong at the time can prove to be better than our own! A pinch of humility is always necessary!

Bless you,

Peter


 

From Valerie:

 

Regarding reflection 2.

I think it would have been difficult to stand against that crowd and, unfortunately, I'm not sure that I would be brave enough to.

 

Regarding reflections 1 and 3.

When the pandemic started I was angry about anyone who didn't strictly follow the "rules".  Especially those who deliberately flout the "rules", but putting them to one side, I've begun to understand some people's different situations and I've mellowed.  I'm not perfect so how can I expect everyone else to be and before I judge someone I should walk a mile in their shoes.

Valerie

 

From Adrian:

 

Hi Colin - thanks for this - my thoughts below. 

I find my worry period is when I am in bed, awake and unable to sleep. I now have an agreement with God. Imagine putting the worry in a box, in my case it's the laundry basket! My side of the bargain is that I am not allowed to think about them again that night. God’s side is that in the morning, He gives me the perfect solution. It might not resolve the problem, but he tells me what to do about it. I get a better nights sleep, and a way forward.

 

One of my favourite quotes is “Rules are for the guidance of wise men, and at the obedience of fools” Attributed too many different people, including the WW11 pilot Douglas Bader. This can work both ways. During lockdown, rather than keeping my distance by 2 meters, I get 10 meters away if I can. But on the other side, needing an electrician to quote for some work, I allowed him to enter the garden, but we kept well apart, both wearing masks. Was I wrong, or just obeying the spirit of the law, rather than the letter? 

 

But when I get frustrated by people carelessly flouting the Government Covid restrictions, I am afraid there are many that have to go in the laundry basket every night. Gods solution in the morning, keep yourself safe - I know about the others!

God Bless

Adrian K Nunn

 

From Sue Sandling

I’ve heard many times about Barabbas being released, but I’ve never thought of the effect that it would have had on the widow and family of his victim, or how difficult that would have been for them.  Other people’s decisions, whether they are conscious decisions or just due to thoughtlessness or carelessness, affect us.  But, it’s all part of life and there doesn’t seem anything we can humanly do except to ask God for tolerance to cope with it. 

Regarding the follow-up activity –‘creating a worry box’ - it makes me think of the verse in 2 Corinthians 10 v5 –“Lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ”. I find it helpful to recite this verse and imagine every worrying or upsetting thought being wrapped up into the obedience of Christ, and sent to Him by way of the verse in 1 Peter 5 v which says – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 
Sue Sandling

 

Week Five - Hear and There-Scene 5- Anguish 

 

We think about sacrifice, sitting with the heartache and suffering of Good Friday before the relief and rejoicing of resurrection on Easter Sunday. It poses some interesting and deep questions about appreciating life.

 

Can we appreciate the hills without the valleys?

 

Could Jesus have related to humankind unless he endured suffering? 

 

In this week’s character monologue, the thief on the cross reflects on Jesus’ stepping down from glory in order to relate to him.

 

The cross – Mark 15.33-39

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God's son.

 

Voices- Here- A Bereaved member of a congregation

 

If you’d told me a year ago that this is where I’d be, well... disbelief is an understatement. Losing someone who meant the world to you, someone you took for granted would always be there. It’s true what they say, you never imagine it will really happen to you, but this virus doesn’t discriminate – even the young and fit can be taken. Worlds can fall apart. No words can make it better. I flip between feeling God holding me and feeling a long way from faith. 

Coming up to Easter – let’s just say Good Friday will have a whole new meaning for me and my family this year. The suffering, the pain, the crying out to God

in anguish, the emptiness and loss, confusion, disbelief that someone so loved could ever really leave this world.

I wonder sometimes, in that moment when Jesus breathed his last, did God feel the anguish I feel? Or was it a reunion for them, rather than a loss?

Do I understand now how Mary felt, how the disciples felt that day? 

I believe my loved one is in heaven, but that’s not helping me much right now. 

I’ve just gotta have some hope that we will see each other again. I wonder if Jesus’ friends had a sense of hope, or if – like now – everything felt lost and out of kilter. Does God really understand what I’m going through, because of the events that happened that Easter time? Am I closer to the heart of God because of the pain I feel? I wonder...


 

There - Thief on the cross beside Jesus

 

If you’d have told me a year ago that this is where I’d be...I’d probably be surprised I wasn’t caught sooner. I’ve lived my life on thin ice. Stealing to eat, stealing to live, to keep a roof over my family’s heads. Day to day living has been such a struggle, I’d never really given much thought to the big questions – spirituality, God and all that. Until my final day, my final hours – beside this man, Jesus, who has done no wrong yet still ended up between two thieves who got what they deserved. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you’re dying – mine wasn’t much to speak of, other than the love in my family.

I’ve never done anything noble or heroic, I’ve always been the taker not the giver. I felt entitled to what I took, but I didn’t deserve it, not really. And yet, this man Jesus – as crazy as this sounds, I felt that he was there for me – those final words he said to me, Today, you will be with me in paradise...they gave me something I’d never felt before – purpose, meaning. There is more to life than food and shelter and clothing and things – this man, this incredible, innocent man showed me so, by the look in his eyes, the determination and belief in his face. He didn’t just believe, he knew where our souls were going after our bodies had given up. I truly believe this man was the Messiah, the Son of God, and yet he chose to step down from his glory and die on a cross, next to a thief like me. Somehow, he found forgiveness and generosity in his heart to offer me a place in his paradise.

I knew he was there for me, to suffer and bleed and die with me, so he would know how it felt, so he could release me from all the trouble I’d made for myself all my life. With my final breath, I gave thanks to God for sending his Son to die beside me, to understand, to truly relate to me. Am I closer to the heart

of God because of the pain I feel? I wonder...

 

 

Conversation and reflection

 

1 What do you feel or think about the idea of Jesus being able to relate to our personal pain and suffering because of the crucifixion, and all that came before it?

2 Discuss the conversation between Jesus and the thief on the cross, and what it may mean to you.

3 How might Jesus’ suffering and death speak to someone who has been bereaved?


 

Listen

Christ Crucified Lou Fellingham

https://youtu.be/JMXWbV-2MYI

 

Who could understand the depth of Your plan, To bring sinners home?

Will we ever know the size of the cost?  The shame of the cross?

 

So foolish to human wisdom but to Your children it's life and power

 

We preach Christ crucified, It's the only way for souls to be saved who have gone astray, We preach Christ raised to life and now He reigns, Interceding for us till He comes again

 

Self sufficient ways run through our veins, fighting Your grace, But Your grace invades, stronger than flesh, demanding a change

 

So foolish to human wisdom but to Your children it's life and power

 

We preach Christ crucified, It's the only way for souls to be saved who have gone astray, We preach Christ raised to life and now He reigns, Interceding for us till He comes again

 

It has the power to break in, And wash away every sin, The only hope for our generation, One day He will come again, And life will truly begin, Restored to how we were meant to be

 

We preach Christ crucified, It's the only way for souls to be saved who have gone astray, We preach Christ raised to life and now He reigns, Interceding for us till He comes again, Till He comes again.

Album : Promised Land


 

And Can it Be? recorded for Songs of Praise

https://youtu.be/sQeIGbKqiw8


 

Prayer action

 

If you feel comfortable, say the names of people out loud whom you know who have died or been adversely affected during the pandemic. Offer this Prayer:

 

Loving God, we hold our friends and family before you. Words are not enough, but you hear the silent prayers in our hearts. Bring comfort and peace, enable us to support those left behind, and give us hope of life everlasting in your kingdom. In your name Jesus, Amen.


 

Follow-up activity

Make space this week to sit down with a pen and paper or some simple craft materials. Sketch or make the cross in whatever form or style, ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you – whether it is basic or complex. Write words or prayers in or around your cross, if you wish.

 

RSVP

 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

In Christian Love

Colin