Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


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A new day

I’ve always loved the Sabbath. Time to stop and be with my family. Time to appreciate God’s goodness to us and remember His promises.

The Sabbath of Passover week is always especially a time of joy. We have remembered the escape from Egypt, we thank Yahweh for his deliverance and look forward to the coming of Messiah.

Yesterday was not like any other Sabbath. The day was empty of all meaning. Between the numbness I could not get the sights, the sounds, and the smells of Friday out of my head. How could my Lord be dead?

On Thursday when we heard that He had been taken by the temple guard, we went as quickly as we could to the temple courts, we watched people come and go. Peter was there as were other disciples, mostly keeping a low profile. Peter of course got noticed, how could he not? Big and burly, he stood out among those in the courtyard. I have never seen a man cry like that, at first it was noisy and anguished as he called curses onto his head. As the hours went on the tears did not stop, as if they could wash away the pain of betrayal. No-one could comfort him, there were no words that could bring comfort to any of us.

We felt so sure that Pilate would dismiss the scheming of the Sanhedrin, that he would see through their manipulation and not be a part of it. He chose to do just that, washing his hands of the matter very publicly. I heard that his wife advised him to let Jesus go, that she had been warned in a dream. But he just turned his back.

That night we sat and followed the ritual of the Sabbath, the candles were lit and the little food that we had prepared was eaten. The words which normally brought comfort were empty and without meaning, the food without flavour.

Yesterday I just keep looking at the sky, willing the sun to move faster for the day to be over so that I could prepare for today.

We would go to the tomb. We would wash the Lord’s body and anoint him with oils and herbs. Our last act of love for Him would be to leave Him wrapped in clean linen and anointed with the precious oils that his mother had given to us. Mary told us between tears of the Myrrh and Frankincense, brought by wise men as gifts when Jesus was a small child. Signs of death and priesthood; she had treasured them for more than 30 years, knowing in her heart that the time would come to use them.

The sun went down, and we met briefly to plan and make sure that we were ready to go to the tomb as soon as it was light.

Another night goes by, there is little sleep for any of us. I wonder if I will ever feel peace again?  I have not felt like this since Jesus freed me of the demons – part of me hopes that the demons have come back, that this is a nightmare and that I will wake up and Jesus will still be here. The peace that He poured into my shattered life that day has kept me going when times were tough. Knowing that He was always there and that I could bring my troubles to Him, that He would fill me with peace and joy just by being in His presence.

But now He is gone.

We were so sure that He was the Messiah. As they taunted Him on the cross we were so sure that He would give us the last and greatest miracle and defy death itself. We were wrong. We were so very wrong…. I will never forget the anguish of those last moments as He called out “It is finished”.

What does it all mean, what should we do now? Can we just go back to our lives as if nothing had happened?

As soon as it is light we hurry the tomb, carrying our precious loads. Who will move the stone? Maybe the Roman guards will help – or maybe they will chase us away and not let us near.

The stone has been moved; the tomb is empty.

maryatemptytomb

Where is my Lord?

I had thought that my despair could not be greater.

Inside the tomb there are two white-robed men built like warriors. We fall down at their feet, we are in the presence of Angels. One is sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. One of them speaks, “Dear woman, why are you crying?”.

“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.”

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again?”  

I remember Jesus saying those words – we hurry back into the city and tell the disciples. They think that we have gone mad with grief; they do not believe us. But Peter gets up and runs to the tomb, I follow as quickly as I can. Peter looks inside and leaves shaking his head in disbelief and dismay.

As I turn to leave I see someone standing there. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” “Who are you looking for?”

“Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

He says my name “Mary!”. I look at him properly and realise that this is no stranger, this is my Jesus, “Rabboni!”. In my joy I try to hold onto Him but He stops me with a smile, “Don’t cling to me, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

This time I run to the city and to find the brethren – if anyone has seen me this morning they will think that the demons have truly repossessed me!

Breathless I rush into the room “I have seen the Lord!”

This is a new day; this is the day that the Lord is risen. I will rejoice and be glad!

 

 

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Shoebox Prayers

Tomorrow we will start checking boxes in the Wirral Warehouse. These are some thoughts that I plan to share with the other volunteers followed by a brief time of prayer. Please take a little time today to pray for all of those who will be involved in the Operation Christmas Child campaign this year.

As we start checking boxes today I thought it would be lovely to share a poem that is more usually read out after Christmas.

The work of Christmas by Howard Thurman

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among the people,

To make music in the heart.

Each box that is wrapped, packed, checked and eventually shipped, will be received by a child who may be lost, broken, hungry, or have parents or siblings who are prisoners.

They may live in a war-torn nation or a refugee camp.

They may have never experienced peace.

They may have forgotten the joy of music.

A shoe-box filled with gifts is not going to make all of the horrors in their live go away but for just a short time they will experience the pure joy of knowing that somewhere someone cares.

For perhaps the first time in their lives they will have “things” that belong to them alone.

For those of us who have been collecting, sewing, knitting, crafting and so many other good works all year it may seem that we never stop thinking of Christmas. But the next few weeks are probably the hardest work that many of us do all year!

This Poem reminds us that the work of Christmas is just beginning. Right now.


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The Good Shepherd

I posted this a while back as a note on YouVersion and have come back to it as I’m just reading Luke 10 as part of the #luke2acts Bible study on Twitter.

This chapter of Ezekiel has just jumped off the page at me! In it we see the whole history of the nation of Israel and God’s promises to them and to us.

The priests and leaders have not looked after the people – they have lead them astray and have exploited them.

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God : Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.(Ezekiel 34:2-4ESV)

As a result the nation has been exiled and scattered but The Lord will bring back His sheep.

So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. (Ezekiel 34:5, 6, 11-13 ESV)

The Lord himself will be the shepherd and will protect them (us) and lead them (us) to good, safe pasture.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 34:15, 16, 23, 24, 31 ESV)

Later on we read in Zechariah
“My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his majestic steed in battle. Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them. (Zechariah 10:3, 9, 10 ESV)

Compare these verses to Psalm 23 in which David recognises that The Lord is his shepherd and will lead him to safe pasture and feed and protect him.

Also we see woven through these all of verses the promise of the Messiah, who will be set above us all and will be our shepherd.

In the gospels Jesus often refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. The one who will search for the lost sheep and will gather them in.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd”. (John 10:10, 11, 14-16 ESV)