As we prepare to live and celebrate the most holy week of our Christian calendar in new and difficult circumstances, I pray for you and your families at this time.
Could Jesus’ disciples have imagined how their world would change for them within 5 days? With Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, celebrated this Sunday, Palm Sunday, the disciples must have been on top of the world with Jesus their friend and teacher, hailed as ‘the Son of David’ and acclaimed as ‘the prophet Jesus from Nazareth’ by all the people. They would have basked in his extended glory. By Thursday night Jesus was a hunted man, arrested, tortured and crucified on Friday, Good
Friday. Their world fell apart, they were fearful, despondent, drained of all hope, and hiding behind locked doors and frightened to go out lest they be arrested. There are some themes in our Christian Celebration of
Holy Week that are relevant to us in the current Corona crisis. In some respects our world has changed within a few weeks, many certain?es have been shaWered; we can become fearful for our safety and indeed our lives, we can be ‘shut in’ physically and emo?onally by fear of the
present and the future.
With the hindsight that the disciples did not have, we know the suffering led to glory, new life and new hope. That good news has been celebrated every year since Jesus rose from the dead, by faithful Christians. We in our own lives live through various deaths and new beginnings, indeed we do so every day in small ways and at other times more dramatic ways. Jesus is with us, His spirit strengthens, renews and inspires us each new day.
‘I am with you always’.
May we prayerfully unite ourselves and our families with the journey of Jesus to new life over this Holy Week. So I encourage you to take ?me to pray as a family, maybe light a candle, open up your family bible, share the Holy Week story with each other. You might get your children to sow some seeds in your flower or vege gardens and together await and look forward to the new life they herald, as we all journey towards the celebration of new life in Christ next Sunday, Easter Sunday.
As we cannot gather as a community of faith in our beautiful churches over these sacred days, let our homes be the sacred building where we pray, celebrate and discover the presence of the crucified and risen Lord. There will be many ceremonies celebrated online for us to participate in. Please check our Facebook and webpage for details (see back page of this bulletin).
Though we are separated physically let us remember we are
always united as one in faith and prayer.
Wishing you every blessing for Holy Week.
Visit the church today where you will find a large cross erected at the church door or entry. Spend a moment to kneel and venerate the cross.
“Behold the wood of the Cross
on which hung the salvation of the world.”
Return home and read aloud the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John
- Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said, ‘I am he.’ Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ Jesus replied, ‘I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.’ This was to fulfil the words he had spoken: ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost’.
Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’
Pause for a time of silence.
- The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people’.
Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?’ He answered, ‘I am not.’ Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.
The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.’ At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying, ‘Is that the way to answer the high priest?’ Jesus replied, ‘If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offense in it, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.
As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him, ‘Aren’t you another of his disciples?’ He denied it saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, ‘Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.
Pause for a time of silence
- Pilate came outside and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.’ Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said, ‘Here is the man.’ When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.’ The Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to the Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the son of God.’ When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus, ‘Where do you come from?’ But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him, ‘Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?’ Jesus replied, ‘You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.’
From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted, ‘If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.’ Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews, ‘Here is your king.’ They said, ‘Take him away, take him away. Crucify him!’ Pilate said, ‘Do you want me to crucify your king?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king except Caesar.’ So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
Pause for a time of silence
- They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull, or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews’. This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate, ‘You should not write ‘King of the Jews’, but ‘This man said: I am King of the Jews’. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’
When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’ In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled: They shared out my clothing among them. They cast lots for my clothes. This is exactly what the soldiers did.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.
After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said, ‘It is accomplished’; and bowing his head he gave up the spirit.
Pause for a time of silence
- It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the Sabbath – since the Sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then the other. When they came to Jesus, they found that he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: Not one bone of his will be broken, and again, in another place scripture says: They will look on the one whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Pause for a time of silence
Conclude your reflection on the Passion of the Lord by saying together the following prayer.
All: Almighty and all-merciful God,
lover of the human race, healer of all our wounds,
in whom there is no shadow of death,
save us in this time of crisis;
grant wisdom and courage to our leaders;
watch over all medical people
as they tend the sick and work for a cure;
stir in us a sense of solidarity beyond all isolation;
if our doors are closed, let our hearts be open.
By the power of your love destroy the virus of fear,
that hope may never die
and the light of Easter, the triumph of life,
may shine upon us and the whole world.
Through Jesus Christ, the Lord risen from the dead,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.