Tonight will be our last gathering on Looking Through the Cross. We will be reading through the last two chapters of the book: Chapter 8 “The Cross and Reconciliation” and Chapter 9 “The Cross and Life.” The Gospel reading for last Sunday (John 12:20-33) dovetails perfectly with these last two chapters. The reading begins with some Greeks seeking to talk with Jesus during the Passover festival, which triggers Jesus’ exclamation that his hour has now come. Greeks seeking out the Christ at the Passover signifies that the divisions within humanity have begun to crumble and the reconciliation of all men has begun. The reading ends with Jesus’ discourse on what dying and rising look like. As Jesus teaches us, for a grain of wheat to have life, it must first die. But upon its death, it is transformed into a stalk which produces fruit abundantly. So with Jesus, and so also with us, that death is the prerequisite to an abundant, transformative life. If you have the time today, please read this brief homily from Msgr. Pope from the Roman Archdiocese of Washington in which he further develops these points.
Also, as you prepare for tonight, please think through these issues raised in the study guide:
· “Walls sometimes give security but they cut us off from one another.” p.178 Is the building of physical walls between people (e.g. ethnic groups) ever justified?
· “Before the cross, everyone is equal.” Can economic inequality be justified between people in the church?
· “…a way of life that effectively offers an alternative to a life of conspicuous consumption and social division.” p.188. In which ways does your church offer that? In what ways could it do it better?
· “The church is a nursery of the new humanity.” p.189. Do you find this idea helpful? If so, why?
· What small step might you take (either individually or as a church) to demonstrate the reconciliation that Christ brings?
· Can you imagine what ‘Resurrection bodies’ might be like? Do the images used on pp.203-7 help your imagination?
· “…death itself becomes a friend.” p.208. Does this idea seem strange to you?
· What (or whom) do you need to let go, or lose, in order to truly find it?
· What practices or actions might you do today to demonstrate your belief that death leads to life, rather than the other way round?
· What might it mean for you to ‘take up your cross’ and follow Jesus today?
Finally, please remember the offerings on Wednesday evening during Lent. I encourage you to take advantage of at least one of these teachings:
· Trinity is continuing it series on “Confronting Evil.” The discussion this week is “Confronting Evil in the Church” Donnie+ is giving the talk. Dinner at 5:30 (please let the church know if you are coming to dinner) with the talk beginning at 6:00.
· Messiah has a joint Wednesday Lenten program with and at St. Phillip’s. Dinner is at 5:45 (please let the church know if you are coming to dinner) followed by a Bible study. The topic this week is “The Choice is Yours – Matthew 7:13-29” Holden Evening Prayer is at 7:30.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is MBHS Booster Club barbeque and Amy’s Lenten pierogis. Hope to see you here.