Rev. Choi’s Reflection for Sunday 29th March

Opening Prayer

God of new life, God of risen hope, as we worship together, may we know your resurrection power in our lives. May our spirits be renewed. May our bodies be restored. Amen.

Bible reading: John 11. 1-45

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.

‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’

40 Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth round his face.

Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ (vs. 38-44)

Reflection

This story, the raising of Lazarus, is one of the highlights in John’s Gospel, as it signals the great event of Jesus’ resurrection. But, what we hear is that this miraculous happening eventually caused Jewish leaders to seek Jesus’ death. Ironically we are to see Jesus under threat because of bringing life to someone else. Yet, in a sense, that is what the message of the Gospel is all about.

In this story, we see Jesus perform this miracle very carefully, like a well-planned drama. He does not rush to rescue his ill friend. He deliberately delays his journey for two days, to see him. Why didn’t he rush right over and save his friend? Isn’t that his definition of friendship: a friend is someone who cares enough to drop everything, even his life. What was Jesus doing that was more important than helping a friend in a desperate need?

In this respect, it’s not surprising to see Mary and Martha grumbling about his late turning up, saying ‘Our brother would have been saved if you had come earlier. He’s been dead for four days.’ Martha stresses on four days. Why do you think she was stressing on four days? It is because in Jewish culture, they thought and believed that the spirit was to leave the body after three days of being dead.

Therefore, it means that although they had seen Jesus raising the dead, healing the sick, and driving out the demons, they were still stuck and bound to their own mind-set, their tradition and their limited human understanding.

They might have thought, ‘life-giving miracle could be happening within three days’.

But, they should have known that Jesus is not bound by death, or death’s timetable. Rather, they are subject to Jesus. And, the time is in his hands. God only knows the right time. And, we need to make it clear that in this story, Jesus didn’t take ‘death’ lightly. He didn’t mean ‘death is nothing at all’. Jesus knew the reality of death. Death is real. However, in God’s hands, death is the raw material of resurrection, if you like.

That’s why Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life”. As we believe this in our hearts, we are to see him at work, amongst us, through us, with the word given to us.

And, what we see in the raising of Lazarus is just a foretaste of that hope, which is offered to us all through Jesus’ own death and resurrection.

With this hope, we are to look beyond death to the new life promised by God. Amen.

Prayer of Intercession

Lord, our God, in this time of uncertainty and fear, time of challenge, help us to stand firm, trusting you and your never-changing love. Guide us and strengthen us with your Spirit, so that we may continue to serve you and your people, particularly those who are vulnerable, those who have lost their jobs, those who find it more difficult to stay isolated. Yes, Lord, being alone is hard. We were created for community, not for confinement. But, we are grateful that no matter how alone we may feel, you never leave or forsake us. So, Lord, give us strength to endure this difficult time, and deepen our connection with you and your people. Empower us with an extra amount of your love, peace, hope, and joy. And, Lord, give us your wisdom to continue to worship in different ways, and to continue to be the church, as we support each other and share your love with one another. And, bless each one of us, as we live in your promises. Amen.

Rev. Choi’s reflections for previous weeks can be found below:

Sunday 22nd March

Opening Prayer
Here we are Lord, we have come –we have come in body,
mind and spirit, to worship you this day, even if we are
worshipping in a different way from our usual Sunday. We
have come, needy, hopeful, tired, joyful, broken and
optimistic. However we have come, we have come to meet
with you. We have come, Come Lord Jesus. Amen.


Bible Reading: Exodus 2. 1-10
“Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite
woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three
months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a
papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then
she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along
the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see
what would happen to him.” (vs 1-4)
Reflection
This is a wonderful story, through which we can see the
great courage and wisdom of a mother, Jochebed, and
God’s plan in there. And also, we are to see her great faith in
God. Unless she had believed God would save him, she
wouldn’t have put him in the basket and let him go into the
crocodile invested Nile River. And then, we see a wonderful
reversal happening, that this boy, Moses is to be saved and
adopted by an Egyptian princess, and therefore to live his
first 40 years under the royal protection. Jochebed didn’t
understand God’s plan, but she trusted God with her son.
And, its reward was enormous, and unbelievable. By her
faithful determination, we see, not only Moses was saved,
but also she was paid to care for him until he was weaned.
It’s a double blessing, if you like. If she was not brave
enough, or faithful enough to let him go, Moses couldn’t have
survived the baby massacre ordered by the Pharaoh. It’s a
great story of a brave mum.
But, we often see mum’s great deal of love and sacrifice from
the ordinary mothers, and our own mothers. In their every
day lives, they do everything for their children.
So, I just want you to think of your mother, what she has
done for you, and still does for you. If she is no longer with
you, just think of what she did for you. And, think of this
question ‘What is a mother?’
In my definition, she is the one who does all things you don’t
like doing or can’t be bothered doing. She is the one who
does things for you that no one else would do.
But, more importantly, mother is the one who loves you, and
loves you more than she loves herself. Amen.


Thanksgiving Prayer
Loving God, father and mother of us all, hear us as we give
thanks for mothers, and for mothering, on this special day.
We remember before you with deep gratitude our own
mothers.
We also give thanks for all in our immediate family and in our
wide circle of friends and relatives, both women and men,
who shared in our nurturing and growth.
We thank you that we can offer a motherly care like yours to
others: loving them unconditionally, meeting their physical
and emotional needs.
Loving God, we thank you that in Jesus you have come
close to us like a mother. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession and Blessing
In these uncertain times, dear Lord, we pray for peace. We
hold before you all those who are putting others before
themselves. We pray for those who are worried about their
financial situation, not knowing how they will cope in the
coming weeks. We pray for the people and situations close
to our heart… We pray for those who feel more isolated by
not being able to attend and act of worship today. We hold
before you the governments and leaders of the world, those
making many difficult decisions… So in these uncertain times may we reach out to support each other, our families,
our friends, our neighbours. May we speak using words of
grace and comfort. May we reflect your love for all of
creation. And may we be a reassurance and a blessing to all
we speak to this week.
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be
with you this day and forever more. Amen