Bravery, Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday & Clearing the Temple.

Today is Palm Sunday.

It would be easy to do a blog about welcoming Jesus into our lives, welcoming Jesus back into his Church, welcoming Jesus back into the City and welcoming him back into this nation and the world. -And certainly that is my prayer, especially as the Turning Mission starts today.

Nor am I going to do a blog about the fact that the Donkey was not a war-horse a symbol of peace and humility.

I could also talk about how the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a Donkey was the fulfilment of a messianic prophesy in Zech.9.9, the people would have seen this as a clear acknowledgement that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, that is why they are getting so excited.

They have heard of his miraculous powers and they are imagining these being waged against their enemies.

The common idea at that time was a Military Messiah, like another Samson, who would over-throw the Romans, and rule over them like another King David. People would have expected after Jesus rode into to Jerusalem claiming to be the Messiah for him to wage some form of attack the Roman headquaters, but instead of clearing out the Romans he went and he cleared out the Temple.

They were expecting Jesus to judge the Romans and instead he challenged them, he challenged their religious practice and piety and found it wanting.

The temple really mattered to the Jewish people, they were very proud of it, and here Jesus is attacking the thing they hold most dear, questioning their motives, their faith, their hearts and their priorities -I don’t think we can quite grasp how huge and offensive this would have been for the people at that time.

Most of us are happy for our enemies to be judged, but, all of us are less keen when we ourselves are in the dock.

Jesus talked about seeing the speck in your brothers eye whilst having a log in your own, when we invite Jesus into our lives, home, family, work, church, city or nation he may start with the log in our own eyes not the speck in someone elses… and that might be uncomfortable.

Inviting Jesus into any situation is a courageous act of faith because Jesus may start by challenging us rather than challenging those around us.

Jesus may wreck our nicely ordered temples, and neat and tidy lives, he’s not into cosmetic change, tinkering around the edges, but gets to the heart of the issue -which is rarely comfortable.

Jesus rarely is into the preservation of the status quo but rather is into transformation.

Shane Claiborne said: “I know there are people out there who say, “My life was such a mess. I was drinking, partying, sleeping around; and then I met Jesus, and my whole life came together.” God bless those people. But for me, I had it together. I used to be cool (I was prom king, for heaven’s sake). Then I met Jesus, and He wrecked my life”.

Inviting Jesus in, is not something to do lightly, it is the biggest and most costly choice you will ever make, it goes on and on challenging us years after our first “yes”, but it is also the greatest and best choice any human being can make.

Are you brave enough to risk getting messed up by inviting Christ into your life?





Humility, Palm Sunday

The Donkey, The Small and The Starfish…

After Palm Sunday the donkey went back home and was saying to his Donkey mates about how everyone was cheering him when he came into the city, how people laid their coats on the floor for him to walk on, and were waving palm branches… The Donkey was strutting about, until his mum, a wise old donkey, gently spoke to him, and said “my son, they weren’t cheering you, they were cheering the one you carried”.

This was a little story told on Saturday night by Shane Claiborne in Woodlands.

We are often a little like the Donkey, we think it is all about us rather than about Jesus, yet when we think it is about us and we forget it’s about Jesus, and that’s normally a recipe for disaster, as actually our pride gets in the way of humbly walking in step with the spirit.

It is not the “us” in “us” the Hope of Glory, but rather it is “Christ in us, the hope of Glory”.

Let us be people who carries Christ where-ever they go, into every situation, into every place, and especially into areas where he is needed the most, and normally and tragically, his Church is least visible.

I believe that we as Christians need to take seriously the promise that “He that is in us (Christ) in us is greater than he (Satan) that is in the world”.

We alter the Spiritual DNA of a place just by being Spirit-filled people there.

I spoke on Sunday about not being Canoeists (doing it in our own strength) or Lilo loungers (waiting for God to do it all) but instead being people who are wind surfers (or ordinary surfers) who catch the wave/wind of Gods spirit and ride it to the shore, living to catch the breeze of the spirit and watching for the wave.

The big challenge of the Bible has never been can God use his people, but rather will we let God use us?

One of the big themes from the Shane Claiborne Evening was ‘normal life’ but still lived radically. Mother Teresa said about lifting people out of poverty, well I started with one, and I started with the one nearest me.

I remember her being somewhat confused about people travelling across Oceans to visit place to receive a blessing (Toronto or Pensecola) rather than cross the street to be a blessing.

Mother Teresa wasn’t into sensational headlines, glitz and bling and said “we can’t do great things, but we can do small things with great love” which I think transforms the mundane into greatness.

On Sunday we read in Zechariah about “not despising the day of small things”, I love the quote that sits nicely with this passage which says “if you think you are too small to make a difference try spending a night with a mosquito”.

Little things matter.

Kind or unkind words and actions may stay with us our whole lives.

There is power in the small.

Jesus says “to those who are faithful with little more will be given”.

Let us do the ordinary but let us do it with great love.

Let us carry Christ and let us never miss an opportunity to bless those God has put in our path, let us look for the ordinary moments which can be redeemed and transformed into the extra-ordinary.

I’ll close with one of my favorite stories…. It is called StarFish…