Monday, 30 March 2015

Holy Week Compline

Several of us gathered at St Francis Byrness to say Compline (Night Prayer)  for Monday of Holy Week. A beautiful and peaceful monastic service to bring the day to its completion. Tomorrow (Tuesday) evening we shall be at Holy Trinity, Horsley, and on Wednesday at St Cuthbert's Elsdon. Maundy Thursday has Holy Communion at St John's Otterburn. The idea is that we have a 'Holy Week' pilgrimage, visiting each of the churches in the valley, and ensuring prayer is said in each.

Monday of Holy Week

Gospel Reading: John 12:1-11

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled  with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." 9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was  there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. 12 The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

Meditation: Do you know the love that knows no bounds? As Jesus dines with his beloved friends, Mary does something which only love can do. She took the most precious thing she had and spent it all on Jesus. Her love was not calculated but extravagant. Mary's action was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for God’s mercy. She did something, however, a Jewish woman would never do in public. She loosed her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bound her hair. For a married woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign of grave immodesty. Mary was oblivious to all around her, except for Jesus. She took no thought for what others would think, but what would please her Lord. In humility she stooped to anoint Jesus' feet and to dry them with her hair. How do you anoint the Lord's feet and show him your love and gratitude?
The gospel records that the whole house was filled with the perfume of the ointment. What Mary had done brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense as well. Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love - a love that we cannot outmatch. The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for our sake and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in all your thoughts and intentions, and in all your words and deeds?
Why was Judas critical of Mary's lovely deed? Judas viewed her act as extravagant wastefulness because of greed. A person views things according to what it inside the heart and soul. Judas was an embittered man and had a warped sense of what was precious and valuable, especially to God. Jesus had put Judas in charge of their common purse, no doubt because he was gifted in financial matters. The greatest temptation we can face will often come in the area of our greatest strength or gifting. Judas used money entrusted to him for wrong and hurtful purposes. He allowed greed and personal gain to corrupt his heart and to warp his view of things. He was critical towards Mary because he imputed unworthy motives. Do you examine your heart correctly when you impute wrong or unworthy motives towards others?
"Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer. Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards me. The things we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labor for: through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Prayer of Sir Thomas More, 16th century)
(text from

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sunday signpost #1: Seeing is believing?

Seeing is believing. Or so we say. But how often are we so busy going about our business that we look but do not see? There's a story in John's Gospel of some people who wanted to 'see' Jesus. ( read the whole story in John 12.20-33). They were interested in more than how he looked, what clothes he wore, what his accent was. When they met him he told them who he was and what he was here for and that if the really wanted to know him they needed to follow him. It's a message for us too. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Spring cleaning - a thought for Lent

Is it time yet for a Spring Clean?
What about those places where you never go?
The attic, the shed, the garage, that particular cupboard?
The church is thinking this week about the story of Jesus 'cleansing the temple' You can read the story here
Not unnaturally this caused great upset.
What about your own spiritual lives?
Is a 'clear out' needed? 
What do you need to find space for and what is no longer necessary?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Team time

The Team clergy and lay readers spent much of last Friday together at MinsterAcres reflecting and sharing our thoughts about how we can work together in new ways. As the 'new boy!' I found it tremendously helpful, encouraging, hopeful and supportive. Have a look at what Susan, our Team Rector writes.  (Click here)
Snowdrops at MinsterAcres