We met on another lovely late summer morning and started our time of worship by listening to “He was Despised” from the Young Messiah by the New London Chorale.
We were asked to think about the times of difficulty that Jesus experienced in his life and how that correlates with our lives. Whatever we experience during our lifetimes we can take comfort from knowing that Jesus will have experienced just what we have and much more.
“Rejection, betrayal, bereavement, laughter, pain, ridicule, hunger, thirst, fun, death, sickness, hurt, fear, anger and tiredness are just some of the things Jesus would have known.”
Grayden then led by telling us of an inspirational character he had read about over the summer, Shusaku Endo
“For the past decade and a half I have been on a journey of re-thinking my evangelical Christian faith. During that time my image of Jesus has changed from a very triumphalistic one to the Jesus who is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. I felt very inspired by reading about Endo’s journey, my image of Jesus had changed just as his had done. The Jesus I need is the Jesus who touched lepers, engaged with the marginalised , the failures and the not-good-enoughs, who forgave tax collectors and prostitutes and chatted with divorcees. I need the Jesus who shows us what God is really like, the Jesus who is always for us, and will never desert us or reject us. And I need this Jesus because I am a sinner!”
We were then sent off into the sunshine with the following questions to consider:
Endo challenges us to see “the Jesus who suffers with us and who allows for our weakness.”
Have you encountered this Jesus? Is this the Jesus you need and identify with?
If Jesus really was “wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities”, then Endo asks us to turn our imagination away from what he sees as the predominant Western image of Jesus, based on Roman images of glory and power, and to see the Jesus who “was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.”
Endo believed that how we picture Jesus really matters. He is critical of Western Christianity for failing to depict the terrible rejection, sorrow and suffering that was so much part of God’s incarnation. Is that fair? Is Endo’s image of Jesus too skewed in the direction of suffering and rejection?
If we share Endo’s emphasis that focuses on Jesus as one who “was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.” Does that image of Jesus help us to view other people differently, perhaps more compassionately?
- Thanksgiving about our relationship with Jesus
We were invited to write either a word or sentence of thanksgiving, these were our prayers;
Accompanied, New Beginnings, Forgiven, Always there, whole, Confiding in God, Believed in and Liked! Accepted, Unconditional, Jesus has shown me his amazing love through his people.
- We prayed for those we knew who were grieving or sick or in need in any way
- We prayed about areas of the world where there is conflict and suffering
Sharing bread and wine
We used “It would not have been God’s table” from Jonny Baker’s worship tricks as it seemed very appropriate.
In closing we were reminded that we can approach God’s throne of Grace with confidence as Jesus, who understands us is there speaking for us.