Good Friday

Today we celebrated Good Friday at church. This is one of the reflections I wrote for that service. The painting was done by a team of beautiful and clever people I get to journey with.

Thinking of you today – may you find life and hope in grief and despair.

easter crosses

While the drama of the crucifixion plays out in an intensely physical and earthly place we must lift our gaze to contemplate the great spiritual drama in play.

The lashings, jeerings and mocking are the least of what Jesus is enduring. At this time sin, sickness, defeat, despair, depression, oppression and brokenness is being transferred to Jesus, the final atoning sacrifice.

In the Old Testament we see sin atoned for by the priest laying his hands on the person and the animal brought for sacrifice – the sin passes from the sinner to the animal, often a lamb. On the cross we see Jesus, our great high priest, the mediator of a new covenant, take up all sin.

What once had to be done again and again to make atonement for sin is achieved once for all, on a wooden cross on a hill shaped like a skull.

None of the bystanders could begin to perceive the exchange at this moment – the chief priests as they justified their win, the disciples as they feared and agonised, the women as they openly grieved the one they loved.

How often do we walk past the cross without stopping to meditate on the truly cosmic moment when the Trinity was torn in two, where the final victory was achieved, where the words ‘It is Finished’ truly meant it is finished.

And then the curtain tore.

A huge and heavy embroidered curtain, reported to be up to 4 inches thick was torn from top to bottom – from God to man – the supreme gift, a way into the holy of holies.

What was once a dividing place between the holy and the unholy instantly accessible to all.

God’s holy presence no less holy, no less awe-some, no less powerful but because of Jesus we are now made holy and worthy to enter.

His blood the sacrifice we could not make. His broken body taking away our brokenness, our shame exchange for his garment of righteousness.

Jesus has defeated death itself – not for his disciples, not for Jews, not for good men but for all – for strangers, for the lost, for the sick, for gentiles and women, for children and for all of creation – right out to the edges of the cosmos.

This act of Jesus, conceived by God as the ultimate rescue mission, initiated in heaven, is for all of the created order.

In this divine exchange the whole of creation’s brokenness is taken up into Jesus and finds in him the answer and the cure.

May you know the Presence of God today and may your heart leap at the welcome into the Holy place.

Family Eastering – Nothing

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 11: Nothing – the victory complete

nothing

Verse: Luke 26 v 6-7

Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, ‘The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.’ 

Activity:

Make medals together – who gets the medal? The winner. Break open a hollow egg together or open the oven and eat one of the meringue cookies – it is empty inside. Why?

Reflection:

Imagine how surprised the disciples and Jesus’ friends were to discover the tomb/cave was empty! That wasn’t what they were expecting at all. No one has the power to keep Jesus shut up in a tomb – not death, not soldiers, not people who hate Jesus, no-one at all. Jesus is the winner. He deserves not just a medal but all of our praise and wonder. Now Jesus shares his victory with us. He fought with death and he won so now when our bodies die it isn’t the end of the story – when Jesus returns our lives and bodies will be remade and live with him in joy and peace and love forever! Jesus is risen!

Prayer:

Wow God! What a great plan you carried out in Jesus. How surprising and mind-blowing it must have been for your friends and how exciting it is for us to know you are the winner. How we love you God. You are truly awesome and wonderful.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families.

Thank you for doing this journey with me. I hope that any of the reflections you have managed to do have brought life, deeper understanding and meaningfulness to your Easter journey.

All the joy and best of good news.

Miriam x

Family Eastering – Stone

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 11: Stone – nothing can stop Him

stone

Verse: John 20 v 1

On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

Activity:

Look for really heavy things around the house – couch, table, tree… try to move these. Use different strategies. Now use the largest family member to guard these whilst the smallest family member tries to get to them and move them.

Reflection:

There were people worried that Jesus’ disciples would try to steal his dead body so they placed not just an enormous rock that would be impossible to move, but they also placed 2 very big scary guards outside the tomb/cave entrance as well. But! When Jesus rose from the dead there was nothing that could stop him – not a huge rock, not 2 big scary guards. It is just the same for us – sometimes we can think that God is far away or what we have done is too terrible to be forgiven or to tell someone. But nothing can get in the way of God’s love for us – no terrible sin, no scary thoughts, no faraway place. Jesus defeated death – there is nothing too big for him to deal with.

Today you could also do the Easter Meringues recipe in preparation for tomorrow. If you would like to do something extra. (You will need a hollow chocolate egg or blown usual egg for tomorrow).

Prayer:

Thank you for your power Jesus, power that raised you from the dead, power that defeated death, power that sets me free from sin. Help me to believe and call on you when I need your help.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families. x

Family Eastering – Spices

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 10: Spices – an act of love

spices

Verse: John 19 v 40

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

Activity:

Try wrapping one another in strips of cloth (or a roll of toilet paper). Smell different spices, essential oils, hand lotions etc.

Reflection:

In Jesus time a dead body was anointed with spices and wrapped in strips of fabric before being buried. Two men asked to be able to take his body to do this before he was buried. This was a great act of love by these men who both loved Jesus even though while he was living they were scared to admit that. They gave him proper preparation using their own resources, because of their love for him.

Prayer:

Jesus thank you that you accept our love for you, even when we sometimes get worried and scared. Thank you that these two men loved you very much. Help me to love you too.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families. x

Family Eastering – Sponge and Spear

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 9: Sponge and Spear – definitely dead

sponge and spear

Verse: John 19 v 29, 33-34

A jar of cheap wine was there. Someone then soaked a sponge with the wine and held it up to Jesus’ mouth on the stem of a hyssop plant.

But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, and they did not break his legs. One of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side, and blood and water came out.

Activity:

Experiment with drinking from different sources – from a flannel dipped in water, sipping through a straw, gulping from a cup, catching water from a hose/jug in your mouths.

Reflection:

When Jesus was offered a drink on the sponge some people say it was to help with pain but Jesus chose not to take it.

Later on after Jesus had risen from the dead some people would try to say that he hadn’t actually died he just fainted. First of all people saw he was dead and then the soldier also pushed a spear into his body which would have definitely killed him if he wasn’t already dead. Because Jesus actually died we know that he has taken our sins away and defeated death.

Prayer:

Thank you Jesus that you died and when you died you took away our sin and pain with you. Thank you that death was not strong enough to keep you and when you rose again you conquered death forever.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families. x

Family Eastering – Sign

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 8: The Sign – Who is Jesus?

sign

Verse: Mark 15 v 26

The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

Activity:

Make a sign together with your names on it, add in a surname and a description. Eg. Rosie Smith, gorgeous singing voice.

Reflection:

During the trial and crucifixion (killing) of Jesus lots of things happened that tell us more about who Jesus is. Look at the name signs we made. Do they tell us everything about you? No – just a little bit. The sign that was put on the cross above Jesus didn’t tell us everything about Jesus. It didn’t say King of all Kings, or Prince of Peace, or Good Shepherd, or God with Us – these are all names the Bible uses to describe Jesus. It could have also described Jesus as a miracle worker, a healer, someone who fed others, someone who included people who were left out… so many things. Each of the names of Jesus help us to understand more about who he is.

You can also include things like Lion of the Tribe of Judah (explain this is like an iwi or hapu) and symbolic of leadership and power.

The more we get to know Jesus through the Bible and prayer the better we understand who he is and how much he is able to change our lives and love us.

Prayer:

Jesus you are amazing. You are the King of Kings and your are our saviour. We love and worship you. Help us to know you better and understand more about how wonderful you are.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families. x

Family Eastering – Nails

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Day 7: Nails – Everything Nailed to the Cross

nails

Verse: Mark 15v24

They nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes.

Activity:

Take some pieces of fabric or paper and carefully nail them to a piece of wood. Expose the piece of wood to wind or other elements. Observe how the nails hold them there.

Reflection:

When Jesus went to the cross he took our sin, mistakes, unkindness, all the things that go wrong for us, with him. Like Jesus those things were nailed to the cross. All of our sin is taken away by Jesus and we are free because of him. The sins we have committed are left there on the cross forever.

Prayer:

Thank you Jesus that you have eternally (forever) taken away my sins. Thank you that you left them on the cross when you rose again and that it has no power over me any more.

May we all come with fresh eyes to the story we know so well, may we let the truths soak deep down and take root, and may these truths breathe life into our daily comings and goings.

These reflections are not exhaustive they are simply a way to add extra thoughtfulness to your Easter celebrations. I hope they bless you dear families. x

Family Eastering – the Cross

Simply making more of DIY resurrection eggs.

Six: The Cross – The Exchange

cross

Verse: John 19v17

And he carried his cross to a place known as “The Skull.” In Aramaic this place is called “Golgotha.”

Activity:

Make a simple cross using strips of paper or harakeke (flax) or bendable card. There are some good instructions for a simple one here. Talk about what the cross was and answer any questions that your children want to ask about the cross.

Reflection:

A cross is made from wood and comes of course from a tree. The tree is a very important symbol or picture in the Bible. It stands for life as well as death. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve decided to take something from a tree that wasn’t theirs. The power of sin ended when Jesus took something that wasn’t his, our sins, and put them back on a tree by dying on a cross. Adam and Eve chose to be disobedient and do something bad, Jesus chose to be obedient for us.

Prayer:

Thank you Jesus that you took the blame and punishment for my sin even though it wasn’t yours. Help me to bring you all my problems because I know you care about everything.