Sunday Reflections: Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

Sunday Reflection: Matthew 21:1-11

Hello everyone.

Well today is Palm Sunday and I must admit it feels very strange to not be at Church receiving and getting my Palm cross blessed. This will be the first year I think that I will have ever missed the Palm Sunday service. As an organist I always love choosing the hymns for this Sunday because I just love the Palm Sunday hymns out there. Ride on Ride in Majesty! Make way Make Way etc. Think I will go and play them later anyway on the practice organ upstairs.

So my little reflection or thoughts today are on Matthew 21: 1-11, Jesus Comes to Jerusalem.

I love this passage but I will be honest it is probably because of the memories it always brings up. At first school we acted this story out several times, our headmistress would get us to grab our coats and lay them along the floor whilst one of us would be Jesus and someone else the donkey who would also be wearing donkey mask and ears. As they walked along the coats we would all shout “Hosanna” at the top our lungs. It was great fun and afterwards we would get our Palm crosses.

The story of Jesus entering Jerusalem is where Jesus fulfils the prophets, in Zechariah 9:9 Jesus’ arrival is foretold. But his arrival is not the arrival a King would normally have, normally it would all be pomp and circumstance but not Jesus. Jesus comes to Jerusalem riding a Donkey and no saddle sits on the donkey just the cloaks the disciples place there. Then when Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people put their cloaks on the ground for the donkey to walk on or if they did not have cloaks they cut palms down and lay them down. Some of these people probably had barely any clothes and might have only one cloak but they still laid it on the ground. They gave the very clothes on their backs for a donkey carrying Jesus to walk on. We also must not treat our possessions too dear to part with for the work of Jesus, as we are all guilty of being too attached to our possessions.

The other thing that comes to my mind is how fickle the crowd is, today they are rejoicing and shouting ‘Hosanna’ for Jesus and in a few days’ time their cries change to ‘Crucify Him!’. This fickleness we all have in our hearts in my opinion, because we have all changed our opinions or course of action to follow the crowd, friends, family and sometimes we know in our hearts that this isn’t right but we still go ahead with this change. As humans we find it easier to go with the tide than against but if in our hearts we know this is wrong then we need the strength to push against.

Finally, my thoughts are with the donkey and not just because they are one of my favourite animals. I think this donkey is amazing and has the bravery of a police horse. This donkey does not bat an eyelid, people are shouting all around and throwing cloaks on the ground but this donkey stands firmly on track and gets Jesus safely to his destination. I think we should all try to be a little bit more donkey, that when times are tough and the world is going mad around us, we keep our heads down and plod forward and let out a loud Eeyore if someone gets in our way.

Thank you and a Happy Palm Sunday to you all.

 

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Sunday Reflections: Psalm 130

Hello everyone!

It is time for my second Sunday reflection, I must admit I almost forgot that it was a Sunday, all the days are blending into one at the moment.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

 Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,

Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord

more than watchmen wait for the morning,

more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,

for with the Lord is unfailing love

and with him is full redemption.

He himself will redeem Israel

from all their sins.

 

So for this Sunday’s reflection I have chosen the Psalm for the day. The reason I have done this is because from an early age I have always struggled with the psalms and because of this I have avoided them. But no longer will I ignore them, I am determined to read more psalms and think more about them.

Psalm 130 is one of the repentance psalms which are quite often read during Lent. However, with the world in its current crisis with the Coronavirus I find that the first couple of verses we could all be praying each day, desperately wanting God’s help with this awful virus that is claiming so many lives.

The psalm is about our sin and how we are waiting for God. The psalm begins with the psalmist crying out to the Lord from the depths. When we think of depths we think of a hole or deep in the ocean but the psalmist is deep in troubles, they find themselves surrounded by trouble with no way out, so they cry to the Lord.

These troubles that are surrounding the psalmist are in my opinion the sins that they have committed and they are crying out for God’s forgiveness because by admitting our sins and asking for forgiveness we gain God’s forgiveness so we can continue working for the Lord.

The psalm then moves onto waiting and whilst waiting putting our trust in the Lord’s word. So whilst we wait for the Lord what better to do than read our Bibles? Reading our Bibles and taking in the Lord’s word and trusting the Lord’s word so it helps us continue on our path to God.

I really love the part in this psalm where the psalmist associates waiting for the Lord like waiting for the morning. We all have those times where we want the night to be over and for the morning to appear, to see and feel the sun on our faces and to see the beauty of a new morning. This for me is how I like to think of our time with the Lord, to feel the peace and beauty of being in his presence.

The psalm ends with telling us to put our hope and faith in the Lord because the Lord has never-ending love and forgiveness for us. The psalm finishes by giving us hope and an assurance that God is love and he is there for us and all we have to do is trust in his word, ask for forgiveness and continue to live in his light.

This psalm gives me hope during Lent that our waiting will pay off.

Happy Sunday, stay safe and well everyone.

 

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Sunday Reflections: John 9:1-41

Hello!

It is Sunday, although it doesn’t feel like a Sunday, I fear all the days are rolling into one. So to prevent this and to mark Sunday’s I have decided to take one of the readings from the Sunday lectionary and write some of my thoughts down about the reading. I am hoping to start Reader training next year so hopefully this will be good practice. I must admit it feels very strange not to be playing the organ for a church service this Sunday. I hope everyone remains safe and well in these scary times.

The reading I have chosen is John 9: 1-41 the reading is here.

John 9:1-41

Reflections

My first thought about this reading is that Jesus notices the people in the background. The blind man has been a beggar for most of his life as he cannot work due to his condition, people know he is there but over time have ceased to see him and he has faded into the background. However, Jesus has noticed him and because Jesus has noticed him so have his disciples. The disciples’ first reaction on seeing the blind man is entirely human, they want to know who has sinned to make this man blind, the man or his parents? The human response of “how did this happen so I can prevent it happening to myself” is something we all do. This question however poses a problem because if it was the man he would have had to commit the crime in the womb and Jesus states that the man’s parents did not cause their son’s blindness by their sin but instead the man’s blindness provides a situation for Jesus to show God’s healing power. A power that we can all display by helping those we see in need and not ignoring the people who have faded into the background.

Jesus says that this man’s blindness is not caused by sin which shows the disciples and ourselves not to judge other people’s sins too quickly as we could be false and causing suffering to others. However, sin can and does cause suffering and as I have certainly experienced when I have sinned it has caused suffering to others and not just myself.

Another thing I noticed when reading this passage is that there is a clear distinction between good and evil. Good is where there is light and evil is where there is darkness. Jesus says “I am the light in the world.” Following in Jesus’ footsteps we continue to keep that light going in the world and not letting darkness take over.

Jesus gives this man the gift of sight, something he has never had. This man is now changed forever, he can see, he is no longer crouching along fumbling his way through life having to beg for money. He is full of life and excitement of what has happened to him and wants to tell everyone but as per usual somebody is usually there to put a dampener on that feeling and in this reading it is the Pharisees. The Pharisees are not happy that Jesus has performed a miracle on the sabbath and say that Jesus is not from God but others are confused because how can somebody not from God perform a miracle.

When the Pharisees question the blind man’s parents they acknowledge he was born blind but refuse to say how he gained his sight and left it to their son to answer because they were afraid of the consequences. I find this true in all of us sometimes, I know that sometimes we know we should say something about a situation but we fear the consequences and hope somebody else will say it instead. We don’t want to be ostracised or made fun of so we keep quiet.

Now the Pharisees are furious with what the man has told them and they throw him out. This poor man has gone from being blind all his life, to getting the gift of sight and wanting to shout it from the rooftops to being thrown out of his community. Everyone would have shunned him because the Pharisees were displeased with him, even his own parents have not stood up for him. But Jesus returns, he finds the man and opens the man’s spiritual eyes as well and the man worships Jesus and the full healing is complete. Jesus did not just heal the man physically but healed his faith as well, he gave this man a purpose and belief. After a lifetime of begging and darkness he now sees the light and begins his journey in the light of God.

The Pharisees are not blind in this because they refuse to see, they refuse to see and acknowledge Jesus as the son of God. If they were blind then they would not be sinning but because they see they sin because they choose to ignore. This is something I sadly relate to, don’t we all see the world suffering, see people suffering and choose to ignore it or pick and choose what we decide to help with.

After reading and pondering this reading I have decided to do more and not ignore so much in the world. I will think more about the climate and the effects my actions have on the world but I will also think and act more on how I can help people. I hope you have enjoyed my little reflection this Sunday. Thank you.

 

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Third Sunday of Advent

Today I had the Carol Service for my one church that I play for and it was interesting because we went for half traditional carols and half new hymns. I think it went down well with everyone, well nobody shouted at me so it must have been ok.

My second service was Third Sunday Advent so I have gone for another Advent hymn for my Sunday post because as you will have noticed I’ve been posting one every Sunday in December so far.

 

Hark, the glad sound!

Hark, the glad sound! The Saviour comes,
the Saviour promised long;
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song.

He comes, the prisoners to release,
in Satan’s bondage held;
the gates of brass before him burst,
the iron fetters yield.

He comes, from thickest films of vice
to clear the mental ray,
and on the eyeballs of the blind
to pour celestial day.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure,
and with the treasures of his grace
to enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of peace,
thy welcome shall proclaim,
and Heaven’s eternal arches ring
with thy belovèd Name.

 

Philip Doddridge (1735)

 

Happy Festive Reading!

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Second Sunday of Advent

Well we are a week and one day into Advent and this Sunday I played for two church services and obviously played several Advent hymns, so I have chosen another one of my favourite Advent hymns to share.
I hope everyone is having a good Advent so far.
Long ago, prophets knew

Long ago, prophets knew
Christ would come, born a Jew.
Come to make all things new;
Bear his People’s burden,
Freely love and pardon.
Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!
Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!
When he comes,
When he comes,
Who will make him welcome?

God in time, God in man,
This is God’s timeless plan:
He will come, as a man,
Born himself of woman,
God divinely human.
Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!
Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!
When he comes,
When he comes,
Who will make him welcome?

Mary, hail! Though afraid;
She believed, she obeyed.
In her womb God is laid;
Till the time expected
Nurtured and protected.
Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!
Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!
When he comes,
When he comes,
Who will make him welcome?

Journey ends! Where afar
Bethlem shines, like a star,
Stable door stands ajar.
Unborn Son of Mary,
Saviour, do not tarry!
Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!
Sing, choirs, sing, sing, sing!
Jesus comes!
Jesus comes!
We will make him welcome!

Reverend Fred Pratt Green (1970)
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First Day of Advent

Happy Advent!

December 1st and the first day of Advent means Christmas is coming!

Today I started my day by playing the organ for an Advent service and that included playing my favourite Advent hymn. In my eyes it isn’t Advent until I have either played or sung this hymn.

O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Translated by John Mason Neale (1861)

Today has also meant the Advent candle being lit, a couple of Christmas decorations going up and of course opening the first door on my Advent calendar. I also managed to get some Christmas reading in as well, which is always good!

Happy reading.

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