Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
Let me start today’s encouragement with the Holy One’s words to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
It’s a nice encouragement, except that in these days we are advised not to go anywhere, but to stay put as much as possible.
Still, either way, whether we have to go out to carry out essential jobs, or we have to stay at home – some of us isolated and lonely – we may know that we all have a divine company, our Creator and Almighty God, who promised: I “will never leave you nor forsake you”.
This was true regarding Jesus, who in our today’s daily devotion (Our Daily Bread) is about to reach a very painful stage of his mission: torture and shameful execution. These unprecedented times overshadow our Lenten journey and preparations for Holy Week, which is just around the corner. During that week, especially on Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice the Messiah took for our sake, to show us how much God loves us.
While Jesus’ suffering was according to God’s will, I don’t believe that what is going on in our world is what God planned for us. The suffering we can see around us might be consequences of our fallen, warped world, but we may know from the Scriptures that God wants us life, joy and restored relationship with our Creator and with each other.
What can we do then? I would like to encourage you to hold fast to the promise: “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
No matter how long this situation lasts, we have to faithfully abide with God’s love and presence. We have to trust that “… in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) Even if those ‘things’ aren’t good at all.
I am still eager to show you the movie we missed at Reel Theology in March. It’s been a great comfort for me to see how the main character finally finds peace in a great loss, impossible to bear without God’s help.
Jesus could carry out his unbearably difficult mission with the same divine help, and with the ability to put his earthly life and will in the Almighty’s hand.
May we follow his footsteps, and develop a similarly strong trust and obedience. God may guide us, and hold all of us in his love whatever befalls,
Our Daily Bread:
Praying Like Jesus
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
READ LUKE 22:39–44
Every coin has two sides. The front is called “heads” and, from early Roman times, usually depicts a country’s head of state. The back is called “tails,” a term possibly originating from the British ten pence depicting the raised tail of a heraldic lion.
Like a coin, Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane possesses two sides. In the deepest hours of His life, on the night before He died on a cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). When Christ says, “take this cup,” that’s the raw honesty of prayer. He reveals His personal desire, “This is what I want.”
Then Jesus turns the coin, praying “not my will.” That’s the side of abandon. Abandoning ourselves to God begins when we simply say, “But what do You want, God?”
This two-sided prayer is also included in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 and is mentioned in John 18. Jesus prayed both sides of prayer: take this cup (what I want, God), yet not My will (what do You want, God?), pivoting between them.
Two sides of Jesus. Two sides of prayer. – By Elisa Morgan
REFLECT & PRAY:
Father, help me follow the example of Your Son, who spent everything so that I might possess real life that includes experiencing intimate prayer with You. Amen
What might we learn if we prayed honestly and with complete abandon, as Jesus did? What situation are you facing right now where you can pray honestly yet with abandon to God?
When you leave the eastern side of the old city of Jerusalem, you descend into the valley of the Brook Kidron. Once across the Kidron, you come upon the garden of Gethsemane—located at the base of the Mount of Olives and in the shadow of the temple mount and its eastern gate (also known as the Golden Gate). This becomes strategic because Ezekiel 44:1-3 tells us that only the Prince (Messiah) will be able to enter that gate, causing some scholars to believe that when Jesus the Messiah returns, He’ll enter Jerusalem through that gate. It’s appropriate, then, that Jesus would begin His passion in the view of the gate which most represents His final victory. That strategic reality gains added significance in that the Hebrew name for the eastern gate is the “gate of mercy.” Mercy secured through the sufferings of Christ that began in Gethsemane. – by Bill Crowder
Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Carstairs Bancroft United Church