Today the Church celebrates Pentecost. We remember the the disciples being given the gift of The Holy Spirit and equipped with the gifts to get on with their work. Following the very sad events on Saturday evening we pray for those who have been affected by this but also for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon God’s Church and on God’s world that we may have wisdom and gain an understanding of the new language that is being spoken by those who seek to destroy life and bring disunity. Come Holy Spirit, Come!

Holy Week Thursday

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Maundy Thursday

Our tour through Holy Week takes a somber turn on Thursday.

From Bethany Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrated by example how they were to love one another. Today, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

Then Jesus shared the feast of Passover with his disciples saying, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16, NLT)

As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of the Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. During this Last Supper, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine:

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ” (Luke 22:19-20, ESV)

Later Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony to God the Father. Luke’s Gospel says “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, ESV)

Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.

Meanwhile, in the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing his Master three times before the rooster crowed.

On the Thursday, Jesus washed the Disciples feet. Think how lovely that would feel, the Saviour of the world serving you. Have you ever wondered what Maundy meant? “MAUNDY” is a corrupted form of the Latin mandatum from which we get our English word “mandate.” It means to hand over or to give as to an order or command. Over the years this mandatum or mandatus became corrupted in use and evolved into the word Maundy which we use today.

Literally it means command or commandment. In Roman terms, if you got a mandatum from the Emperor you were in deep, deep trouble. Lucius Pontius Pilate received a mandatum back to Rome in the Autumn after the crucifixion and although we don’t know what the outcome of that was with any degree of certainty it probably included either an enforced exile from Rome or a suicide note, giving him a period of grace before the mandate was carried out. In any case whatever he was commanded to do his life ended in obscurity possibly in Europe near Vienna at the furthest end of the Empire.

Today take a moment in prayer asking God to show you how you can serve God and make a difference in this community. Then go do it!


Holy Week, Wednesday

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The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of the Passover.

Bethany was about two miles east of Jerusalem. Here Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha lived. They were close friends of Jesus, and probably hosted him and the disciples during these final days in Jerusalem.

Just a short time previously, Jesus had revealed to the disciples, and the world, that he had power over death by raising Lazarus from the grave. After seeing this incredible miracle, many people in Bethany believed that Jesus was the Son of God and put their faith in him. Also in Bethany just a few nights earlier, Lazarus’ sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume.

While we can only speculate, it’s fascinating to consider how our Lord Jesus spent this final quiet day with his dearest friends and followers.

On the Wednesday, Jesus was anointed. As the woman anointed Jesus with perfume, take some perfumed oil and, rubbing it onto your wrist, savor the aroma, the sacrifice and reflect on what you can give to Jesus.

Holy Week Tuesday

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On the Tuesday, Jesus dismantled people’s self-importance. Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus taught them about faith.

At the Temple, the religious leaders aggressively challenged Jesus’ authority, attempting to ambush him and create an opportunity for his arrest. But Jesus evaded their traps and pronounced harsh judgment on them: “Blind guides! … For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness…Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” (Matthew 23:24-33)

Tuesday afternoon Jesus left the city and went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives, which overlooks Jerusalem due east of the Temple. Here Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse, an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. He taught in parables using symbolic language about end times events, including his Second Coming and the final judgment.

Scripture indicates that Tuesday was the day Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus. After a tiring day of confrontation and warnings about the future, once again, Jesus and the disciples stayed the night in Bethany.

Events of Tuesday during holy week can be read about in the following verses: Matthew 21:23–24:51, Mark 11:20–13:37, Luke 20:1–21:36, and John 12:20–38.

Think of the times you hold back or stand on ceremony, creating a barrier that puts folk off religion. Take a balloon. Blow it up. Then prick it and as you do so, let go of pride and prejudice.

Holy Week Monday

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Day 1: Monday

On the Monday Jesus cleared the Temple. Read John 2:13-26.

Think of the clutter in your life. Spend a moment asking God to help you clear out the things that distract you from worship.

Write down few of those things, scrunch up your note and put it in the bin—then let go! Or share your ideas on our website.

Lent 4

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Read John 11

Have you ever wondered what became of Lazarus after he rose from the dead?

After Lazarus’ short lived fame, only to be over taken by the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem followed by his death and resurrection, the Bible only mentions this Lazarus once more when he meets the apostles Paul and Barnabas. At this point Lazarus is in Cyprus, having fled the anger of the Jews and having taken refuge there at Kition around 33 A.D.

He is later mentioned by St. Epiphanios of Cyprus (367-403) as the Lazarus who aged 30 rose from the dead with the help of Jesus of Nazareth and then went on to live another 30 years following this. This tradition has it that Paul and Barnabas made Lazarus of Bethany, the first Bishop of Kition while they travelled from Salamis to Paphos in recognition of the great work Lazarus was undertaking shepherding the church of Kition.

There are other traditions which say that Lazarus of Bethany was sullen and sad during his second life because he had glimpsed hell during his 4 days in the tomb. Due to this, he also worked tirelessly in the hope of influencing as many people as possible to turn to Christ so that they would avoid being lost forever.

A further tradition connects him with Larnaca in Cyprus where at that time there was a very large vineyard. As Lazarus walked through the vineyard he met an old woman filling her basket with grapes. Tired and thirsty, Lazarus asks the old woman for a few grapes from her based but was met with only disdain and rudeness. Following the exchange, she asks him why he couldn’t see that the vine is dried up like salt and yet he asked he for a grape? In his reply, he responds that if all she can see is dried withered vine, the let it all become salt.  From that point on the entire vineyard because a salt marsh as it still is today. Workers working in the salt marsh today confirm the traditional tale and claim to find when they dig there roots and trunks of vines. In the middle to the salt lake today there is a well of fresh water, known as ‘the well of the old woman’.

Lazarus finally left this world in Cyprus in 63AD. Those whose lives had been touch by this Hebrew follower of Jesus wept and buried him with great honour in a grave labelled ‘Lazarus of the four days and friend of Jesus the Christ’. In 1750 they built a church around the grave and his memory is celebrated every year two or three weeks before Easter. He was given the status of saint in 890AD by order of Emperor Leo VI the wise and his saints day is 17th October.

So, now we know what happened to Lazarus – he emigrated to Cyprus and lived out his life there, in exile from his sisters in Bethany!!