17th March – Andrea’s Letter: Passion Sunday

19th March 2024

Passion Sunday 2024  St Andrew’s Milngavie
Today we celebrated the beginning of Passiontide, accompanied by Alison we sang the Passion Hymns.
Thank you very much for all those who helped with the garden tidy session yesterday.

The Lent group is still taking place on Thursday afternoons at All Saints 3pm. The book we are studying is “Rooted in Love” Lent reflections on Life in Christ introduced by Rt Rev Sarah Mullallay, The Bishop of London.

Also available is the Ignatius Spirituality Centre Lent Retreat both online and in book format which Steve Parratt is very kindly able to provide.  The theme is Through Lent with Pope Francis, drawing on some of the wisdom in the Pope’s homilies and encyclicals over the past 10 years covering some important themes, such as mercy, friendship, love and care.

The Bishop’s Lent appeal this year is in aid of “Friends of the Holy Land.” It’s a charity which supports Christians in the Holy land.  You can donate online or through the church in the donation box at coffee.

Don’t forget the church walk next Saturday 23rd March 2pm.  Meet at Caulders Car Park, visitor’s centre, Mugdock for a circular walk, finishing with tea in the café.

This Week
Tuesday 10am – Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Wednesday 2.45pm – Book Group – mine
Thursday 10am – Said Holy Communion followed by coffee in Friendship House
Thursday 3pm – Lent Group All Saints Hall
Saturday 2pm – Church Walk, Calders CarPark

Services for Holy Week
Palm Sunday 10am Sung Eucharist with reading of the Passion
Maundy Thursday 10am Sung Eucharist with Stripping of the Alter
Good Friday 2pm – A Service of the Cross
Easter Day – 7am Preacher’s Brea – a short service for Easter Morning with Cairns Church.
10am Sung Eucharist for Easter Day

Ecumenical Services

Services will be held at 7.30pm in The Allander Evangelical Church from Monday to Friday, 25 – 29 March.
The Walk of Witness will take place on Friday 29th March leaving from Gavin’s Mill at 11am.

Readings for next Sunday – Palm Sunday  – Isaiah 50:4-9    Philippians 2:5-11  Gospel of the Passion Mark 14:1-15:47

Today’s readings – Jeremiah 31:31-34,  Hebrews 5:5-10,  John 12:20-33

Our bible readings today share the theme of looking to the future and “setting the scene.”

In the Old Testament Jeremiah, in one of his more optimistic moods, looks to a time when the Lord will form a new covenant with his people.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah…….I will be their God, and they will be my people……For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  Jeremiah 31:31-34

In the letter to the Hebrews the author sets the scene for Easter as he encourages people to look to Jesus as our source of eternal salvation.
“Son of God though he was………. He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”    Hebrews 5:8-9

Today the gospel also encourages us to look to the future.  It starts with a simple request. “Sir – we wish to see Jesus”

How many of us have “wished to see Jesus”  But have we ever thought how exactly we would feel if we met him face to face.  It’s an interesting thought. What would we say? What would we expect.  The compassionate, warm and loving Jesus, shrouded in glory and mystery as in Luke 7?
“When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Luke 7:13

Or the questioning, challenging Jesus who brings us up short and makes us feel uncomfortable as in Mark 10. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Rich man asks Jesus.  Mark 10:17 “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  Mark 10:21

We can’t be sure, but in this morning’s gospel, people wanted to see Jesus.  It is quite clear that by this stage in his ministry Jesus was becoming quite a star.  One could almost say he was becoming a fashionable figure – the person people most wanted to see and know about, so much so that people were even coming from far and wide, and they came in large crowds, much to the Pharisees’ dismay as is stated in verse 19
“See this is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him” John 12:19

Here in this passage, we have Greeks coming to see Jesus.  But what people didn’t realise when they came to see Jesus was that they got more than they had bargained for.  Jesus was more than just an interesting person, wherever he went he exceeded people’s expectations and there are so many examples of this throughout the gospels.

In Mark’s gospel a man looks for healing – Jesus forgave his sins. Mark 2:5. On another occasion a woman who wanted to be healed touched Jesus, Jesus helped her see it was her faith that had healed her. Mark 5:25-34

In John’s gospel the disciples wanted to eat the Passover meal with Jesus, their master. Jesus washed their feet showing that he was also their servant.  John 13:4

And at the crucifixion the religious leaders wanted Jesus killed and got their wish.  But Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus succeeds and surpasses all expectation, that is why over two thousand years on, people still want to see Jesus.

This Sunday is Passion Sunday. The day when we look towards Holy Week, The Cross and The Resurrection.  Our encounter with Jesus and the unfolding events becomes even more complex and more incredible.

And in today’s gospel Jesus gives us a taste of this, of what is to come. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit” John 12:24 And so, from death comes life, a foretelling of the resurrection.

One of the most amazing aspects about Jesus’ ministry is that he taught us to see things differently.  Jesus came to the Jews with a new view on life, they looked on glory as conquests, the acquisition of power – the right to rule.  He looked on it as a cross.  He taught people that only by death comes life, that only by spending life, living life, do we retain it, that only by service comes greatness.
Jesus said, “Unless a seed dies, it remains a single seed but if it dies, it produces many seeds and then much fruit.”

We see this illustrated in many areas of our lives.   Sometimes old habits must be given up for new ones to be taken up. Over a life span old situations change to give way to new ones.  The first big change comes when we leave school, it’s an end of a certain way of life as friendships may come to an end but also its the beginning of a new life and new friendships.  In later life relationships may end but new ones emerge, jobs come to an end but may give way to new opportunities. In wildlife we think how a salmon dies in order to spawn new life.

 In death comes life, new beginnings. St.  Francis of Assisi knew this law of nature well and sums it up beautifully when he wrote in his famous prayer for peace.

“For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”