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Good Friday Service 2020

Date: 10/04/2020/Speaker: Rev Miak Siew, Jonathan, Wendy, Irene

Reading from Luke 23:32-49
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus[e]there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”]][f] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah[g] of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[h] “This is the King of the Jews.”

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus said.
I wonder, what would Jesus say if they knew what they were doing.
I still think Jesus would have said “Forgive them”, just like how I believe Jesus forgave Peter and Judas for their betrayals.

What about us? What do we do if we know what we are doing?

We have changed our behaviours because we know how we can spread the covid-19 virus. We all want to do our part so this difficult period will pass as quickly as possible.
But we are also made aware of many other things that many of us were previously oblivious to.

We are now aware of the precarious situation that many part-timers and freelancers face right now where many of them have no work after projects are cancelled and the shutting down of all but essential services. No work means no income.

The alarming number of covid-19 infections among migrant workers have exposed how the least among us is treated. Yesterday the number of infected persons exploded – 287 – out of which 202 are connected to foreign worker dormitries. This is number doubled in a day. It will, unfortunately, continue to rise.

The reactions of some folks to having foreign workers move into the empty flats in Bukit Merah need to be addressed. They are human beings, they are our siblings. What we do for and what we do to the least among us, we do to Christ. Christ is in their midst. On this Good Friday, Christ is crucified again with these foreign workers.

We can no longer say we know not what we are doing.
We need to find ways to take care of them now – and also fix the broken system when things return to normal.

We benefit at the expense of their cheap labour. Now is the time those of us who can step up to step up. Make sacrifices to help the least. Live up to our calling as Christians.

Here at FCC continue to pay our part time cleaner even though she cannot come to work. You can choose to pay those who work part time for you during this difficult period. For some of us who are benefitting from the $600 the government is giving us, consider giving part of it to support organisations that help the least among us at this time – TWC2, HOME, Beyond Social Services.

Jesus is the king of the kingdom that takes care of the least among us – and sometimes the least among us don’t look like the least among us. Sometimes they look like they are able to take care of themselves. Sometimes it looks like there is somebody taking care of them – barely.

We shouldn’t be expecting people to “save themselves” – we should allow God to break in through us the kingdom that Jesus promised.

God, forgive us, when we do not know what we do. God forgive us, when we know what we do – and help us repent, and live according to your will.

Luke 23:39-43
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding[i] him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah?[j] Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into[k] your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise”

Walter Brueggemann points out that there are three elements in Jesus’ statement.

“First, he says “Today.” Right now! You don’t have to even wait for Easter. “Today.” Maybe that means when we die, which will be very soon. But maybe it means right now, as soon as I say this to you. The today is an incredible welcome, no questions asked, no qualifying exam. Come on in!

Second, Jesus, according to Luke, users the curious word “paradise.” This is a very rare word in the New Testament and is exactly in Greek as it is in English, “paradise.” One other use in the new testament links the word to “the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7), so we take it as an allusion to the Garden of Eden that contained the tree of life. Jesus invites the man back into the garden of well-being that we know in Genesis, before there was violence or alienation. We often suspect, in our common use, that “paradise” means “heaven.” But there is no evidence that this concerns “life after death”; paradise is rather a zone of well-being presided over by Jesus, marked by blessedness, fruitfulness, abundance, security and well-being, all of that on offer, right now, today, for the person who trusts Jesus.

But it is the third term that clarifies both “today” and “paradise.” “Today you will be with me in paradise” is transposed by Jesus. Now it is not a place but a relationship, it concerns being “with me.” The place of well-being, abundance, blessedness is in relationship with Jesus, in his presence. And that may happen right now, immediately. This welcome offer is good assurance; being with Jesus is a safe place of goodness. ”

We may feel isolated, alone, alienated. We may feel fear, anxiety in the face of what is looming. Are we going to fall sick with the virus? Even after all this is over, what is going to happen? But Jesus says Today you will be with me in paradise.

It is an open invitation to trust. Trust that God is with us, and God will see us through this.

Psalm 27: 4, 13-14 One thing i asked of the lord that i will seek after – to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in God’s temple… I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Luke 23:44-49

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land[l] until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed;[m] and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.”[n] 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Jesus said “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Jesus took his last breath, trusting God.
He endured suffering, humiliation and pain because of love.
Love that is stronger than hate,
Love that is stronger than death.
Love that forgives
Love that heals
Love that abides
Love that transforms even the centurion – one who is part of the system that executed Jesus.

The current system that crushes our spirits, the system based on fear, selfishness, and scarcity –

Dare we trust, like Jesus did, in the love that overcomes all fear? When we say God will provide – can we live it out?
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Gerard Ee, executive director of Beyond Social Services wrote in a letter today – “For Christians today is not just a public holiday but a day of contemplation. I would like to suggest that even if we are not Christians, we can think about a suggestion to put forth by author Dave Hollis, “IN the rust to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” My colleagues and i do not feel rushed because your love have assured us that the normal notion of kindness, hope, connection and community have never left us.”

Jesus dies on the cross. And God could have resurrected him there and then. Immediately! Now! But resurrection took 3 days – let us take the time to consider which parts of normal worth rushing back to.

Now is a Kairos moment – a pivotal moment for decision and action. A moment for repentance, a moment for change. Jesus is inviting us into change that is like death.

The old order of things will pass away.

But beyond the cross, beyond death, there is an empty tomb. This is the promise of God’s kingdom

Rev 21:3 – where God will dwell amongst humankind and humankind will be God’s people. This is not only the kingdom that is to come, but the kingdom that is already here. Today! Today you will be with Christ in Paradise!

If we live our lives with the values of Christ – abide in Christ as Christ abide in us, then the world can be paradise!

We remember what has taken place on the cross.

Will we follow Jesus, at great cost? Even in the face of death? Even at great sacrifice?

Do we trust, like Jesus did, in God? Do we believe in God’s love?

Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The bible tells me so

Jesus loves me this I know
For the bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The bible tells me so