Archive for Luke

Reflections on Holy Saturday I

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by stephengardner

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The confusion, pain and sorrow of Holy Saturday seems an appropriate metaphor for the age in which we live. All too often our lives are interrupted by horror, we have become too familiar with ethnic cleansing, terrorism and tsunamis. And, at a personal level, our relationships are scarred. We feel the rejection of those who should welcome us, and we, ourselves, reject those we should accept.Where is God in all of this? What difference has Jesus made?
These questions, I’m sure, would have been echoed by those close to Jesus as he lay in the tomb on that Saturday. We get a glimpse of their disappointment as two of them set out for Emmaus on Easter Sunday.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,  but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Like those first disciples, we often feel the disappointment of unanswered questions – ‘what has happened to the redemption Jesus promised?’ – ‘what difference has he made to my life now?’

Yet, we live with a certainty that was not present on Holy Saturday. What happened that Easter Sunday as the disicples walked with this mysterious stranger? The realisation of his glorious vindication, triumph and transforming power. Its this tension I hope to explore a little over the next week or so, reflecting on Holy Saturday as a metaphor for the present day. To borrow a phrase from Alan Lewis, we stand between yesterday and tomorrow.

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All things new I: redefining hope

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 2, 2009 by stephengardner

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Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. (Luke 2.25 NRSV)

Simeon is an interesting figure. He gives us a snapshot of the hopes and aspirations of first century Israel. They are back in their land, they have their temple but they are far from experiencing the promises of God that parts of Scripture reminded them of. They are longing for consolation, for the redemption of Jerusalem from the pagan rulers and for God to come dwell with them again and rule for them.

What I hope to do in this series is explore Isaiah 40-55 and the promises made to Israel. I don’t suppose to be on top of these chapters, but I love them dearly and hope to grasp them better through this series.
One of the things I hope to do is to see how these hopes are not just for Israel but for the entire world, as Jesus the true light of the world brings a new hope.

Looking at Jesus afresh often brings surprises. Sometimes we find that the answers he gives us are not the ones we were looking for. Looking at Jesus  requires we shift our thinking about how God has worked, is working and will work in the world.

Simeon himself was forced to do this, as he held the new born Jesus in his arms, he made a massive shift in his thinking as to how God would satisfy the hope of Israel

Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2.29-32 NRSV)