Dear Member of All Saints,
The Church Wardens have invited me to write the letter to the church members this week.
Robert Lowry was an American Baptist preacher who became well-known as a prolific writer and composer of hymns. One of his best-known hymns, which we still sing today, begins like this:
Low in the grave he lay,
Jesus my Saviour,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose
As the victor over all his foes;
He arose in triumph from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign –
He arose, he arose, Alleluia – Christ arose!
In these few words we have the framework for Holy Week.
We follow Jesus from the triumphant entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Last Supper with the disciples. We see Jesus betrayed, arrested, and put through a mockery of a trial. We see Jesus led out to be crucified. We see Jesus the Saviour dying on the cross bearing the sins of the world. We see Jesus carried away, laid in the tomb, and a large stone rolled across the entrance.
The authorities placed guards outside the tomb so that Jesus’ disciples would not come and steal the body and pretend that Jesus was alive again. They were powerless when angels rolled the stone away and Jesus was raised to life again and began to appear to his disciples. Jesus rose victorious over all his enemies. Jesus “lives forever with his saints to reign.”
This is not just the framework for Holy Week, it is the framework for our lives as Jesus’ followers – now and for ever. We experience pain and suffering now, but for those who can say “Jesus my Saviour!” and “Jesus my Lord!” there is a glorious hope because Christ arose.
Over the last year our lives have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. We have been stopped in our tracks. We have grieved over the suffering of so many. We have applauded those who have selflessly served others. We have grumbled over the restrictions imposed on us. We look forward to more normal times.
We need to keep a clear perspective in the coming days. We face real difficulties, and we have the prospect of being raised with Jesus to be with him for ever. Sin is dealt with. Death is defeated. Now and forever, Jesus reigns.
On Good Friday [April 2nd at 10:45 in All Saints, and live-streamed on the All Saints YouTube channel] we will reflect on Jesus’ journey from Gethsemane to Golgotha to the grave. Jesus went this way because of his great love for us. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by his death on the cross. Jesus died so that we can live. And then, “He arose, he arose, Alleluia – Christ arose!”
On Easter Day [April 4th at 9:00 in All Saints, and live-streamed on the All Saints YouTube channel] we will rejoice that the crucified Saviour is now the risen, victorious, reigning Lord of all. We will continue that celebration in our Easter All Age Worship [April 4th at 10:45 on-line]. “He arose, he arose, Alleluia – Christ arose!”
After Easter, we will begin a new sermon series in 1 Peter. Peter faces up to the challenge of LIVING IN HOPE, living with confidence in the Risen Lord in a world that is marked by suffering and difficulties. Home groups will also follow this series in 1 Peter.
After 1 Peter, we will look at some of the major GLOBAL ISSUES in the world today. We will explore a Christian perspective on Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger and the changes we need to make if we are to be good stewards of all that the Lord has entrusted to us.
Rev John Benson