Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

We have our sanctuary open all day today for prayer and reflection. There are four stations set up, thematically revolving around the words of the Lord's prayer, and I had the opportunity to write reflections for two of those stations. Though I cannot provide the physical elements of reflection, perhaps you can glean some truth from these words this Good Friday. The Lord be with you all.

Reflection and Inventory

“…your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven…”

~ Matthew 6:10

Whether we have been observing Lent and reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice as an annual pattern throughout life, or if this is our first experience with these reflections, we have much to glean from a few moments to take inventory of our lives and Christ’s work in us.
A timeline can be a great tool in evaluating our lives and setting goals for the future. There is a stack of timelines and pens at this station. Grab one of each, and ask yourself these questions and take notes on the timeline.
Before doing so, read the verse at the top of the sheet a few times and ponder its meaning. And don’t use this as a time to beat yourself up. Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to save us from our past. Guilt is never a motivator for change. But forgiveness is. And Christ offers it to you in abundance. Use this time to decide what changes you can make today so that you don’t repeat your folly tomorrow.

What have been some truly memorable moments in my life? Mark them on the timeline.
What made these moments memorable?
What moments have been memorable in the last year?
Who have I served? How have I demonstrated God’s love?
When have I needed forgiveness? Have I asked for it?
Who do I need to forgive today? Apologize to?

What do I want to change this year?
What steps do I need to take? Where do I need to reprioritize?
What do I want to be different about me when I come to the cross at this time next year?

We all know that the way things are is not the way they should be. We know that Christ’s sacrifice brings forgiveness for the sin of the world and that we have newfound freedom and access to God in Christ, but life is still a struggle.
So we continue to live and pray:
“your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. ”
Confession and Repentance

“And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

~ Matthew 6:12

Confession and repentance go hand in hand. As we see in this verse from the Lord’s Prayer, they are mutually dependant on one another. Even as we ask for forgiveness, we acknowledge that we have already forgiven others. We receive forgiveness as a free gift, but understand that our own hearts must be forgiving in order to receive it.
Jesus puts it very well himself in the parable of the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18:21-35. Take a few moments to read this parable out of one of the Bibles provided at this station.
Ask yourself how you have been an unforgiving servant. Ask yourself how you have lived in a manner contrary to the heart of Christ. Jot down these thoughts on one of the provided notecards as a prayer of confession to God. After you have written your confession, take a pushpin and pin it to the cross.
Be assured by these words from 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The second portion of this station is a reflection on baptism. Ponder these words from Peter’s sermon at Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:38. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If you have been baptized, take this as an opportunity to renew and remember your baptism. Dip you hands in the baptismal waters, being reminded of the cleansing waters of forgiveness you have received in the name of God: Father, Son and Spirit. Give the water a moment to air dry on your hands.
If you have never been baptized, reflect on Acts 2:38 again, and consider talking to one of the pastors about receiving baptism. The act of baptism is the outward demonstration of an inward acceptance of Christ’s forgiveness and the confession that Christ is the sole Lord and Savior of humanity.

Through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, you are forgiven. You are cleansed. You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a new life, a resurrection life, not according to the rules of humanity, but according to the Kingdom of God. The rules of God’s kingdom are not those of power, corruption and manipulation, but of forgiveness, grace, righteousness, justice, truth, peace and love.
On this day, receive these freely from Christ the Lord.

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