More Notes from the Orchard - 41
Welcome to April! As soon as I discovered April Fools Day I thought it was brilliant (though I think I liked it even better as an adult!)
Alas, it was much frowned on by the nuns at school Im talking well over 70 years ago and having grown in years I can now understand why they put the fear of God in our innocent minds that it was a Bad Thing. We were told it was a memorial of the mocking of Jesus before his Crucifixion. Without this incorrect information and knowing the imagination of children, our teachers might well have been driven mad by any and sometimes cruel results of children free to enjoy the delights of being formally allowed to tease friends and teachers. Try clicking here to find out rather more reliable information (Click here)
It seems to me it was much more likely to be a way of celebrating the joys and delights of being freed from the cold, dark and shuttered world of a Northern Winter into a beautiful flower-draped Spring. . .
Never mind its time to get back on track as we apply ourselves once more to climbing the last hill to Cavalry in the company of our dear Lord, Jesus Christ.
Well, maybe our original good intentions about Lent have gone the way of so many New Year resolutions and faded away, even though we might have made an impressive start. Jesuss own start wasnt impressive: under the weight of the Cross he fell at the very first fence, having declared himself a king who could be rescued by legions of angels if he cared to call on them. At that point every heartless individual would be starting to mock Jesus. How are the mighty fallen! But Jesus picks himself up, grits his teeth and continues his agonizing approach to the Cross . . .
The watchers can see he is struggling but nobody offers Jesus any assistance, forcing the soldiers to drag in someone to help Jesus after all, they have to get the prisoner to the place of crucifixion, the quicker the better. Their choice falls on Simon of Cyrene, probably not a job Simon either wanted or expected. As the hooting and jeers of the crowd ring in the ears of all, the four men continue their painful path to the place of execution, whipped on by the soldiers. Out of the crowd steps a lone woman, perhaps having stripped a cloth from her head which she held out to the suffering face of the man at the back of the prisoners, the one being helped by Simon. She tended the damaged, bleeding face gently with the cloth, already wet with her tears, damp enough to bring a little relief to Jesuss face. The crowd and the condemned moved on, leaving the compassionate Veronica behind.
Jesus falls once more before being stripped, nailed to the Cross and raised in apparent shame for all to see while his lips spoke the words of his heart: Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.
More Notes from the Orchard - 40
March 1st 2017 this year is Ash Wednesday. There will be Christians who will make an effort to remember the day and its significance as the start of Lent as there will also be people who dont have a notion as to what it is about.
Most of the worlds religions have a period during the year when it is recognized that it is an essential part of life to step back into some quietness, to stop and think and take time out from the pace we live, which at this time is increasingly demanding of our energy.
If you look on the internet and use the word Retreat in your search you may well be surprised at the number of sites there are to explore. Ive just Googled and find About 13,200,000 results (0.62 seconds). Those figures suggest there is a very strong demand as my request specified UK as opposed to worldwide!
Of course, all of these tend to cost . . . often quite a lot! There are ways of finding peace which are free. Psalm 46: 9-11 is a brilliant place to start. Experienced Christians will remember that Jesus often went off to a quiet place to pray. Living here in this beautiful part of England we have the choice of a walk in the forest, along the beach, even just sitting quietly in a car looking out to sea. If none of those are places you can get to, just sit at home, eyes closed and all noises muted: switch off the phone, turn off the radio, computers, timers . . .
Be still and know that I am God He will come to you and give you peace.
Try this at least once during the next four weeks, and I promise you, you will feel refreshed.
Have ready to hand these words, so that when you are relaxed and at peace and ready to re-enter todays world you can say them to the Lord:
Dear Lord, you are my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. You make me
lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside still waters. You restore
my soul. You lead me in the paths of righteousness for your names sake. Yes,
although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
for you are with me, your rod and staff shall comfort me. You will prepare a
table before me in the presence of my foes. You have anointed me with oil, my
cup is running over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of
my life and I will live in the house of my Lord for ever.