Possible changes to the Church after the lockdown:
Part Two – We will see through the lens of sacrifice.
John 12: 12-19
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
I’m not sure whether this is desire, wishful thinking or bordering on the prophetic, time will tell. But there is an opportunity during lockdown for the Church to change. Restricting myself to these beautiful verses which will be read and used around the world next week as we celebrate Palm Sunday I share these thoughts, hopes and prayers today.
We will see through the lens of sacrifice, v16
Yesterday standing in a queue outside a supermarket I was talking to someone (2 metres apart) regarding the current crisis of covid-19. The person seemed to have strong opinions on what this was and likened it even to the days of World War 3! I didn’t have the heart to question how this was possible. Understanding the times we live in is something that is important to the Church. “This is that” is our mantra often. It gives comfort to be able to be in control by knowing what this terrible season actually is or means.
In the passage of what we call the Triumphal Entry the disciples are not understanding the times at all.
They now see Jesus welcoming the applause as the Messiah where over the last few years he was dismissing or hiding from it. What does this mean?
They had already missed the fact that Jesus had made plans prior to this arrival into Jerusalem: the loan of a donkey; the hire of a room for the Passover meal; that he had been following the prophecies of Zechariah in riding a donkey.
They see the procession of praise but are aware he has been weeping with words of judgment over the city just beforehand and that he would bring a sentence of doom on the Temple almost straightaway.
They cannot understand.
It is only after his death do they get revelation. His death opens their eyes to see. It is the lens of God. So much so they call it the glory of Christ.
2020 is a year where we will see so many deaths that we had not anticipated. We will hear of many stories of sacrifice from those who throughout the crisis risked their lives at the community foodbanks and the frontline workers who every day got up to face death. We will hear of stories like I heard yesterday from a friend whose wife closed her business and as a previously qualified nurse went back to the NHS to help. A year of death and sacrifice.
People of all faiths will have their stories of course.
But so will the Church and it will mirror that of the gospel, of our Lord.
The gospel is not demanding how people live but telling of how someone died.
Sacrifice could make a come-back in the Western Church. With it will come not only understanding but the glory of God that we have all longed and prayed for.