This is Holy Week, Jesus’ final week with us on earth. A week of pain and turmoil, of prayer and passion and, most of all, hurt and …love.
I spent Saturday sharing a wonderful day with family at my cousin’s wedding. A day that was full of love and happiness. Love is both strong and fragile. Strong love brings two people to commit their lives to each other in the presence of God. It makes them want to protect and cherish each other, but it can also be extremely fragile and has to be looked after. Fragile love need to be protected and cherished too. Then, each day, it will thrive and grow stronger.
The service, as always, was peppered with signs of love. “Love Divine, all loves excelling” was sung. Readings were heard from Song of Songs and A A Milne! Vows taken with smiles and hands holding each other as the commitments were made. Love from family and friends as they witness promises and pass on good wishes and congratulations. Love and happiness between the guests, as the years apart were caught up on.
Love was all around us on Saturday. As we have moved through the trials and turmoil of Lent and Jesus’ struggle this week, on his journey to resurrection. Let us all remember that it will end with the His gift of love for us all to share.
So, as we all sang together, in the little church full of love, Holy Week was starting…
You’re my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a King.
I love You more than any other,
So much more than anything.
…and were sharing God’s love through His family. Strong and fragile.
Let’s go fly a kite
Up where the air is bright
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring…
Research by the mental health charity, Mind, has proven that for 70 per cent of those suffering from mild forms of depression, watching a kite flying made them feel happier.
It can be a benefit to all of us, as arms and shoulders are exercised by holding on to the kite and keeping it in control. To root it to the ground this involves leg muscles. Then the most important muscles of all, who cannot fail to smile at the colourful shape on the end of an almost invisible line.
Then there is spiritual health. Watching or flying a kite can be one of the most freeing experiences. Imagine climbing up into the air and being able to look down, around, above and all the things you would be able to see and hear. Hold on to the line and take a spiritual journey through the line into the colour of the material as it stretches over the sticks that hold the shape and become the kite. There would still be a connection to the ground through the string, but then the movement would start. Climbing, swooping, almost touching the ground, and up again, hovering, then a little more string, getting braver, and higher. I am sure there would be angels to play with as well. Then, when you had found the current, hover, let yourself flap in the wind and be with God. Speak and listen and be free.
For Easter this year, as they do in many countries to represent the risen Christ, I would like a kite. Much better for you than an egg…
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Fly a kite……
(Sherman Brothers for Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins)
Today is St Joseph’s Day, celebrated throughout New Orleans by placing altars around the city. This elaborate tradition was brought with them by Sicilian immigrants in the 1800’s, much as the Irish with St Patrick. Sumptuous and lavish, the altars overflow with food, candles, figurines and flowers and are a sign of gratitude of the relief that St Joseph gave during a famine in Sicily.
I am a fan of Joseph (as those who read the blog in Advent may remember) and I return to him often. He was obviously someone who thought greatly of others. A righteous man of integrity. He married Mary and raised Jesus as his own, knowing that there was something ‘different’ and that it would be difficult. During this time, I like to think that he passed on, not only his carpentry skills, but also this righteousness. Looking after people, helping them in times of need and doing this unconditionally.
I am sure he may have questioned all these decisions. He may have thought that these decisions could be wrong, or, were going to be tough. However he knew it was the right thing for him to do. We all have this in us. We all have the need to help others, but must offer this help if it the right thing for us.
So during this Lent season when lots of us are struggling with decisions let us think of how we can help. Jesus struggled with his own decision and how it would help others, and this proved to be the ultimate sacrifice.
Let’s all celebrate St Joseph today. Give thanks to him for the decisions he made, which ultimately help us through his son. Oh, and yes, as green is associated with St Patrick, St Joseph’s colour is red. So, today, we should wear this colour with pride and thanksgiving.
This year the winter was not that bad. Or was it? We did not have the snow that covered the ground for six week, but we did have winds. Stronger than they had been for a long time. Trees toppled like dominoes all around, electricity cables snapped and roads were blocked. Thank goodness for those with chainsaws.
However, because the task of clearing roads and driveways was rushed, to allow access, trunks and branches were moved to verges and banks, and, there they lay.
Yesterday I noticed that the daffodils, that hide in the ground for months on the bank at the bottom of our drive, had managed to push their way through the tangles of branches and ferns and are, amazingly, beginning to bloom.
Most of us, who are faced with a tangle of branches blocking our way, would look for a different route or even stay where we were and wait for the blockage to be moved. How resilient these little bulbs must be. They poke their leaves through the ground and know that the light is there somewhere. They head through the debris covering them and, at last, they can stick their little yellow heads out into the light.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
I have house guests, for six month or so – indefinite board and lodgings.
One is a ball of fluff, the other a tiny wee, feisty thing. They spent their first night and day moving from under one article of furniture to another. Hiding… trying to work out what was happening.
Then, they ventured out to join the rest of the four legged family. A very grumpy cat, who is such a lovely creature, but only in her own company. A hyperactive dog, whose main aim is just… to play. Lots of growling, barking and hissing ensued. No claws though (apart from on my husband, who only wanted to be a friend too).
This morning, as I got up to do the usual rounds of filling bowls with food and water, there was a kind of ballet being performed as each creature moved from room to room with hardly any contact. The initial worries, struggles and growls are being worked out amongst each animal as they learn the boundaries and expectations.
Yesterday the theme of the service was self-discipline and what we need to do during this Lent season and beyond to be good Christian people. This is a time of self-denial, when we struggle to give up things that we love. A time when we meditate on Jesus, his struggle and turmoil. I am pretty sure that there was a lot of self-discipline, struggling, turmoil and understanding of each other happening in this household over these past few days amongst cats, dog and people.
There will be joy at the end of this journey.