Collect: O God, from whom all good things arise: grant such grace to those who call on you, that, by your inspiration, we may ponder those things that are right, and, by your guidance, do them; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: The promise of the Advocate As we are coming closer to the end of this Easter Season, we are always reminded of the love of Christ. Last week we were told about the sadness
and troubled hearts of the disciples and their confusion about the departure of their master, Jesus. Jesus assured them that he is the way, the truth and life.
Today the beginning of another journey and Jesus confirms to them in verse 18 –
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
We all know that Jesus is coming back in the future at the final judgment, but did not imply that he would abandon them. On the contrary, he would send the Holy Spirit, or better, he would come himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. But to whom would he come? He would show himself to his beloved people, and his beloved people prove their love by their obedience. The Gospel writer intends these words for the church and the Christian community. The promise of the Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, Helper to be with us forever. When we look at all the words, it brings us peace to know that Jesus continues to be with us at all times. Someone may interpret all these words as “the one called alongside”.
This Advocate will be the “Spirit of Truth” who will abide in the Christian community as they continue their journey of faith. What a joy to know that there is someone who is walking besides us all the times!
We are not abandoned by God, but we have to remember that the promised Advocate, the gift of the Holy Spirit, comes with this assurance –
Loving God means Obedience to his commandments.
Wishing all our mothers a blessed & wonderful Day today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, and God bless you all. Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life:
Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to bethe way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, Amen
From the desk of the minister: Jesus is the way..
This Sunday, we come across the familiar reading from the gospel about Jesus’ last advice for his disciples before the cross. In the gospel of John, Jesus uses some metaphors regarding to Himself. To those in darkness Jesus had affirmed, “I am the light”. To the hungry Jesus had declared, “I am the bread”. To the separated he had asserted, “I am the door”. Now in his final words to his disciples and to those so uncertain of where he was going and where they were going, he announced, “I am the way, the truth and life”. We probably encountered political correctness at any point of time. If so, you’ve heard friends or relatives or other religious friends make the claim that all paths lead to heaven, no matter the belief system. But as soon as you point out that Jesus claims to be God in the flesh, many will accuse you of being intolerant. But we have to stand our ground in the matter of our faith. Jesus has indeed always existed, distinct from, yet one with, the Father and the Holy Spirit.
And He’s the only way to heaven. We are reminded from our gospel reading today – John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We have to hold on to those truths as followers of Christ. Other religions may see this differently, but this is our call as Christians and we have Jesus as the way to our Father. Grace & Peace, Maile
An invitation to Reorientation
It was a long and dry road that day, we walked, shuffling our feet, wandering
with heads bowed low and spirits bent even lower; a stranger joined us and
before long there was a familiar burning in our hearts, and still we did not know.
There was broken bread and words of thanks, and then he was gone.
At the end of the road there was a gate, and Jesus said “I am the gate.”
For our Contemplation: Over my Dead Body
One of the earliest uses was by Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
in 1850: “I’ll give my last drop of blood, but they shall not take you from me.
Whosoever gets you must walk over my dead body!”
This hyperbolic adverbial phrase is used as a defiant phrase showing
the strength of one’s resistance to something.
Gates have been used for many things, to lock things in, to lock things out,
barriers, prisons, security, segregation, some electrified, some with razor wire.
And then there is Jesus. When Jesus said, “I am the gate” he is drawing into
himself the way the truth and the life, he is our defender, protector but never
our captor. This is a gate through which we can feely come and go and Jesus
watches over us, as the words of the psalm echo in us, “indeed, the one who
watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. the sun will not harm
you by day, nor the moon by night. the LORD will watch over your coming
and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121)
So, perhaps we can say today, that it is because of Jesus’ dead body, now risen
and eternally alive, the way through this most ominous of gates is now made safe
for us to enter through. It is literally, “over Jesus’ dead body.”
Eventually this culminates with Jesus saying, “I am the Good Shepherd,
I lay down my life for my sheep.” (John10.11)
Now, that is what gates are for!
Grace and peace, Rev James
Collect: O God, who, in the death and resurrection of your Son, have raised
up this fallen world: may we and all your people, whom you have saved from
the gates of everlasting death, rejoice in your eternal presence;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: The Road to Emmaus..
The story of the two disciples who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the
Sunday evening was a sad one, because of the recent loss of their leader and the
future is uncertain and hopeless. These two disciples, possibly Cleopas and his
wife Mary, were stuck in a situation of grief associated with a real loss of hope
and may be the reason of their going to Emmaus. Emmaus might be home for
them. They are going back there for good. But the good thing of the resurrection
is that Jesus did not ascend straightaway. Jesus knew the main trouble with his
followers, their slowness in the believe that he has been raised.
This event probably happened after he appeared to his disciples in the Upper
Room. These two went home with heavy hearts and life seemed to be worthless.
But the story turned when Jesus joined them. Jesus asked “what are you
discussing together as you walk along?” It was about Jesus, they crucified him
and the women did not find the body, and then it opened up an interesting
conversation where the stranger started to unfold the Bible to them.
As they approached the village, Jesus continued on as if he were going further,
but they invited him to stay. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and
began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him,
and he disappeared from their sight. The question for us is how is our journey
of faith? Luke has invited us to accompany him on a journey of faith, that faith
will take us through anxiety and sorrow to meet the risen Christ.
Today we remember his words, ‘he will never leave us nor forsake us’, Jesus
meets us wherever we are. He always provides the means of transformation for
our journey. Let us always invite him in so that we can see the grace of God
in our lives. Happy journey with the risen Lord!!
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery
has established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all
who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show
forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through the same Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: Peace be with you!
Last Sunday, we celebrated the great victory of Christ from death in the tomb.
Today, the first meeting of Christ with his disciples after his resurrection.
Christ appears in the Upper Room, no longer limited by the conditions of the
flesh. Yet he is the same Lord: the wounds are there in his hands and side.
His first words are customary greeting, “Peace be with you”; yet how significant
they are coming from him at this time!
“Peace on earth” was the proclamation at his birth; peace, and rest of soul, was
his offer in his public ministry; “my peace I give unto you” was his legacy to his
disciples; peace between God and man through his Atonement; peace between
man and man through his grace. To set forward this word of peace among men is
now laid upon the Church, and the word is still set forward at the end of every
Holy Communion and Funeral – “The Peace of God which surpasses all
understanding…” Today, at the Upper Room he did not rebuke them for
running away or for their un-beliefs. He said to them, “Peace be with you”,
and then he showed them his hands and his side.
Peace for a Christian does not mean absence from conflict. Many persecuted
Christians hiding behind locked doors in China and other places, must have
found comfort in this Gospel and been glad when they realised that Peace comes
from knowledge of the presence of the Lord, and that they can share the
strength and victory of his Resurrection.
Let us continue to share the Peace of the Lord.
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son
Jesus Christ, overcame death and opened to us the gate of
everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the
day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death
of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ
Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: The Day of Victory
St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 – “and if Christ has not been raised
from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to
believe”. In v17, he also says this – “And if Christ has not been raised,
then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins”.
Well, we have to give thanks to God for the way of the cross and also the
great victory of the resurrection so that we can still affirm that our faith is
not in vain and our preaching is not worthless. The day of resurrection is a
day of victory for all Christ’s followers around the world. Every Christian
Church celebrates this special Day as the day of victory for our Christian
Religion. The testimony of the centuries is that most other great religions
have ethical value, but none, save Christianity, have redemptive and
transforming power. The cross is the world’s supreme symbol of hope.
Resurrection is the Love that never ends.
To break the power of sin was a task that only God Himself could
accomplish. Had Jesus not been crucified he would have gone down in
history as a great, no doubt the greatest, religious teacher, but he would not
have been the Saviour of the world. There have been many religious
teachers, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, and others too, but there is
only one Saviour – Jesus Christ. Happy Easter and God Bless!
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
SUNDAY 2nd April 2023 Palm Sunday
Collect: Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon himself our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From the desk of the minister: Jesus enters Jerusalem as a servant king Matthew gives a special account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus enters the holy city on this final occasion with determination. Jesus walked all the way from the north and when they reached Bethphage on the Mount of Olives he sent two disciples to bring a donkey. The question that comes to our minds, why Jesus wants to ride on the donkey all of a sudden?
We know that pilgrims entering Jerusalem usually came on foot. The Old testament prophet Zechariah had predicted that when the Messiah came he would visit Jerusalem as a king entering the city on the foal of a donkey (Zech 9:9) Jesus remembered this prophecy, and he chose to honour that prophecy.
When a king went out to war he travelled in a chariot or rode on a horse.
When he came in peace he rode on a donkey.
By entering Jerusalem in this way, Jesus was not only proclaiming that he was the Messiah but was also reaching out to the Jews that he comes in peace and in the spirit of reconciliation.
The crowds shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Lord!” But their excitement was shorted lived. They expected a Messiah exactly like King David: a conquering warrior, who would drive out the hated Romans and make Israel great again. When they realised this was not the path that Jesus had chosen, they turned against him.
Little did they realise that in taking the path of a servant he would have greater impact on the affairs of this world than anyone who has ever lived.
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: God in whom we rely, Christ in whom we have faith, Spirit of
all our hopes, we come to worship you and to affirm our confidence in
your love. God of life, you have given us our very existence. Even when
we are dried up and feel only hopelessness and despair, you enliven us
with your Spirit and raise us up once again. Breathe into us and bless
us with your grace and love, that we might choose the way of life as
we journey toward the resurrection and beyond, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: Jesus and Lazarus
Our gospel reading for today is another long passage but this is the last miracle of
Jesus and most profound of all. The raising of Lazarus is an introduction to the
climax to come, for Jesus will rise again from the dead after his crucifixion.
This is a special family to Jesus, and Jesus loves them all, Martha and her sister
Mary and brother, Lazarus. In verse 25, “Jesus wept”, the shortest verse in the
bible. Jesus weeps for his lost friend. It shows a lot about Jesus. This Christ is
not some divine being who does not feel grief when someone dies as he enters
into everything which we can experience. The journey reaches a critical point,
Lazarus is dead, his sisters are mourning, Jesus arrives too late. Jesus knows all
the situations that he is coming into when he meets the family. When we think
about this story, we are now in the heart of John’s Gospel. Jesus makes his key
“I am” statement – he is ‘resurrection and life’. With the echo of this in mind
can we make sense of Jesus’ own arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. And this
statement about himself brings forth the ultimate declaration of faith,
“You are the Christ, the Son of God, come into the world.”
THERE IT IS! AND WHO GIVES IT? – MARTHA, the sister who got it wrong
at his visit to their home. Martha knows Jesus even in her deepest sorrow.
Jesus looks at the dry bones of the valley of death, just as did our God represented
in Ezekiel, our reading from the OT. A new breath of life is offered and life
emerges again from death. Many things can be brought back to life in us, as
individuals, family, community or as a church. Let us be open to the gift of life
that Jesus is offering.
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Loving Shepherd, we come to you in thanks for giving us rest in
green pastures, for offering us drink beside still waters, for restoring our
souls; we offer you our love for walking with us through valleys of death and
despair, for feeding us from your table, for saving us from those who would
harm us. We rejoice in your goodness and mercy and we offer these gifts of
gratitude, that we may share with others for blessings we have received
from your hand, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: God sees the inner ‘man’..
The story from the Old Testament today is about God seeking a new king for
Israel. God has rejected King Saul from being the king of Israel. The Lord said
to Samuel, fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse
of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.
When Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands
here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his
appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look
at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We live in a culture that puts a lot of emphasis on the physical appearance.
If you don’t believe that, just take a look at the television advertisements,
the newspaper advertisements etc they have to be perfect in order to be attractive
to their target audiences. Some will be looking to get rid of wrinkled skin or grey
hair? Then there are commercial companies pushing their creams and hair
products to be the best…all of those happens because of the outward appearance.
Today we are reminded from our Biblical Story about the most beautiful thing
that God is interested in.
There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, nothing wrong with trying to
look better by staying physically fit. But where your relationship with God is
concerned, never forget that God is far more interested in the condition of
your inner self than He is with the outer self.
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Heavenly Father, you made us for yourself, and our hearts
are restless until they rest in you: look upon the heartfelt desires of your
humble servants, and stretch forth the strong hand of your Majesty to be our
defence against our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: Jesus and the Samaritan woman
The gospel for today comes from the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan
woman at the well. Last week we had an important conversation between Jesus
and Nicodemus – that unless you are born again, you won’t be able to see the
kingdom of God. This is another important conversation between Jesus and the
woman. Firstly, we know that Jews and Samaritans do not get on, and the strictest
Jews will avoid travelling through Samaria in case they may contract some kind
of ceremonial uncleanness. But according to v.4, Jesus had to go through
Samaria. Maybe Jesus already had an important task to do in this place.
The disciples had already gone to town to buy food and the conversation started
as soon the woman arrived at the well. Jesus said to her, “will you give me a
drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a
Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (for Jews do not
associate with Samaritans). In that culture men did not usually initiate a
conversation with women they did not know. His disciples…were surprised to
find him talking with a woman.( v.27) It is interesting to know that Jesus went
against the social norms to communicate with the woman. As the story develops,
we find that the woman had five men and was living with the sixth. Most of the
time women got water early in the morning or later in the afternoon but not in the
heat of the day. This woman came at noon maybe she did not want other women
made fun of her status. When the woman refused to give Jesus a drink, Jesus said
to her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would give you living water.” At the end of
their encounter, the woman left her jar at the well and went back to tell the people
about this man. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could
this be the Messiah?” When we encounter Jesus deeply, our lives would
be transformed for He is the Living Water. Grace & Peace, Rev Maile
Collect: Almighty God, who sees that we have no power of ourselves
to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly
in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may
happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and
hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
From the desk of the minister: God bless us to be a blessing…
The story of Abram today is a reminder of this, Abram was called by God to
leave everything, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s
household to the land I will show you.” This is one of the hardest things for
someone today to do that command, especially if that person is rich. But for this
patriarch of faith, he dropped everything and obeyed God.
God says to Abram, “I will make you into a great great nation, and I will
bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will
bless those who bless you.” One of the great things of being called to minister
to a congregation are the blessings that we often get from members. And I know
for sure that they do it not because of who we are, but because of who God is.
We are there as an ambassador of God. It is always in my mind that when we are
blessed, we are to be a blessing to others as well.
I still remembered in my one of my placements, we arrived on a very hot humid
day and started unloading our stuff, a little man on a scooter arrived with two
plastic bags. He said to me, “this is some fruits for you from my own garden”
“Welcome to town and God Bless” He left. I found out later in church that
what he did was his way of life for ministers that have come in to town.
Abraham was called by God to be a blessing to others, so we are called too to be
the same. When God calls you to follow Him, you won’t know all the steps and
stops along the way. All he told Abram was “to go to the land that I will show
you”. All you know for sure is that God will lead you step by step as you obey.
We are reminded also that the obedience of Abram brought in the blessings of
God not only to him but also the people who blessed him. The blessings of God
are all around us … let us be aware of the abundance of his blessings for us.
Grace & Peace, Rev Maile