Collect and Readings for The Fifth Sunday of Lent – Isiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8
The Prayer for todayMost merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today we become aware of the shadow of the cross as we draw closer to Holy Week and Easter. There is a sense of inevitable sadness and suffering as we sit with Jesus and his friends, and Mary anoints his feet with the pure nard as if lovingly and lavishly preparing him for death.
Yet, although there is sadness, this is not a time for despair or hopeless resignation. Far from it. Even as Judas dismisses Mary's act as sentimental extravagance, we know that this suffering will be the gateway to something of vital importance. The echoed words of the prophet – 'forget the former things – I am doing a new thing' – brings with them a wonder and excitement for the gathering momentum of Jesus' time on earth.
This is to be greater even than the great escape story of Exodus. This rescue will be God acting in an extraordinary way, breaking completely new ground.
Paul writing to the Christians at Philippi, gives us such a catalogue of sufferings as to make anyone considering following Christ to think again. Why commit yourself to something which will lead you into such discomfort and insult? Yet Paul sounds anything but resentful. He is so impressed by what he has gained in Christ that he is more than happy with the hardships. This suffering is positive and full of hope.
Some things to reflect upon:
Does Paul's view of suffering tie in with your experience, or do you feel suffering and sacrifice are, in reality, nothing but negative?
What different agendas were there at the meal where Jesus was guest?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson