2 Tuesday Unless a grain falls…
Isaiah 49.1-7, Psalm 71, I Corinthians 1.18-31, John 12.20-36
Yesterday we said that the whole world is full of the glory of God. The glory of God is not visible everywhere. It is visible in what to us may seem the most utterly implausible way, the most counter-intuitive place. He has hid the truth of himself in one single person, and what’s more, he has hidden the truth of us in that same single person.
God has decided that man is his glory. And the way that glory can be accessed is through Christ. Christ is found through the prayers and worship which fill the Church. We said that the incarnation and passion of Christ, and so every day of Holy Week, is an unfurling of the resurrection, the truth that Jesus is the risen Son of God and the whole future of man with God.
Today, according to the Lectionary, our readings are from Isaiah 49 – ‘in the shadow of his hand he hid me’, and I Corinthians 1 ‘The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing’, and John 12. ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain.’
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1 Monday The house was filled…
Isaiah 42.1-9, Hebrews 9.11-15, John 12. 1-11
1. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume
Each day of Holy week is a lesson in the resurrection. The resurrection spells itself out to us as the cross. We learn the glory of God and about our place in this glory – which means the resurrection. We learn about the resurrection through the passion of Christ. The passion of Christ is the glory of God for us.
The readings set by the Lectionary of the Church of England for today are from Isaiah, Hebrews and John. Isaiah 42 – ‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights’. Hebrews 9 – ‘Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, through the greater and perfect tent’. John 12 – ‘Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
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Fifth Sunday of Lent
In our journey towards Easter we have seen that Christ is anointed and made king by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has brought us into the communion and body of Christ, so that we are anointed with him and he with us. We have seen that Christ is our universal human-to-human mediator. He is the one who can hear and receive all other humans. The question to us is whether we are ready to receive through him the whole human race and created order as the gifts of God. Christ makes himself present only in this disguised form, so that our freedom to receive this life from him, or not to receive it, is entirely ours.
Consequently man is a mystery that cannot be controlled. It is not just man’s present, defined by the limits of our imagination, but his future that God has at heart here. God is guardian of our freedom: he does not let us give it away. We have seen man wrestle with the question of his own identity. We have seen this wrestling spelled out to us in terms of the accuser wrestling in the wilderness with Christ, Israel wrestling with Moses, Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well wrangling with Christ about where life can be accessed. Through these are many different encounters, we have seen man wrestling with the dark figure of his own future. This future is life with God. This week Lazarus anticipates Israel – All Israel will be raised and the Church will be raised.
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Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16.1-13
At Easter God completes his act of creation by raising one of us to the full definition of humankind. In Christ the whole work of creation has been successful, and that success is opened to all of us. Through the Holy Spirit Christ has attached us to himself, so that the resurrection of the first man is the beginning of the resurrection of all humanity. Easter is a preview of the consequences of this for us: Christ’s resurrection is a rehearsal for ours.
In Christ, each of us joined to every other. The Church is the companionship of God making itself tangible and corporal here. The distinctiveness of the Church from the world is the great gift that God gives the world: the world is anointed with the Church. But what the Church knows is not obvious outside the Church – it has to be confessed. The Church has to pray and to speak up for the world. The world relies on us to do this.
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