Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 35 – Monday in Holy Week
From the Scriptures:
1-2 As co-operators with God himself we beg, you then, not to fail to use the grace of God. For God’s word is – ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you’. Now is the “acceptable time”, and this very day is the “day of salvation”.
3-10 As far as we are concerned we do not wish to stand in anyone’s way, nor do we wish to bring discredit on the ministry God has given us. Indeed we want to prove ourselves genuine ministers of God whatever we have to go through – patient endurance of troubles or even disasters, being flogged or imprisoned; being mobbed, having to work like slaves, having to go without food or sleep. All this we want to meet with sincerity, with insight and patience; by sheer kindness and the Holy Spirit; with genuine love, speaking the plain truth, and living by the power of God. Our sole defence, our only weapon, is a life of integrity, whether we meet honour or dishonour, praise or blame.
Called “impostors” we must be true, called “nobodies” we must be in the public eye. Never far from death, yet here we are alive, always “going through it” yet never “going under”. We know sorrow, yet our joy is inextinguishable. We have “nothing to bless ourselves with” yet we bless many others with true riches. We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having.
(2 Corinthians 6.1-10 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
There used to be a small Christian bookshop somewhere along, if my memory serves me correctly, Anns Hill Road near the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire, where I bought the first two religious books of my own. Other than prizes from Sunday School (did anyone else have a copy of ‘A London Sparrow’?) and a Royal Navy issue Bible from boarding school, I had no other ‘holy reading’ nor had I ever thought to ever buy any.
I was eighteen at the time living in ‘digs’ with a job in a pharmaceutical factory whilst the rest of my family were on an extended holiday in East Anglia prior to our emigrating to South Africa. I still don’t know why I visited that shop, perhaps I was feeling lonely and a bit lost, but the books I bought then have lived with me ever since. They were Michel Quoist’s ‘Prayers of Life’, long since worn out with several copies bought and worn-out to succeed the original, and J.B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament. It and my school bible (the Authorised Version) are the only books I have from my childhood and are a reminder of God’s care down the years.
Phillips had a wonderful turn of phrase and an ability, as I was to learn in later biblical studies, to re-tell the scriptures in a modern idiom without, unlike ‘interpretation’, doing violence to the original text. I cannot count how may times I wish he had finished his work and completed the Old Testament as well – though he did complete ‘The Four Prophets’.
Today’s passage is a case in point and encourages me whenever unmet ‘devotions’ and an ignored ‘daily office’ catch up with me. It reminds me that what is most important is not what we ‘didn’t do’ yesterday but instead what we are ‘going to do’ today! These word call for an immediate response to the immeasurable grace of our Beloved regardless off criticism, calumny, or cost. And not simply any response, but one which puts others first and is overflowing with, ‘sincerity, with insight and patience; by sheer kindness and the Holy Spirit; with genuine love.’
When I learn to do that then it really doesn’t matter that I own nothing for it is only as we hold out the gift of life to others does that life become our own sure possession. ‘We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having.’
This week brings many devotions to keep, prayers to be said, vigils to be watched through. As we learn to listen to the Spirit’s whispers She will lead us into which ones we should spend more time with and which less, which ones to pick up and which ones to put down, but it is not so much in the ‘doing’ that we will grow closer to our Beloved, but in the manner of keeping them. We can easily become clock-watchers in prayer – how many of us have already pencilled in watching for just ‘one hour’ with Him between now and Sunday morning? Instead we should be people who are so absorbed into our love for the Beloved that when we pray we pray a complete prayer, the length of which is only ever discovered once it is complete.
Now is the “acceptable time”, and this very day is the “day of salvation”. Today, this Holy Week, is a moment in time overflowing with grace if we but stop for a second, a minute, an hour, and allow the ‘Love so amazing, so divine’ a small part of our busy schedule.
Let us not be people so busy about God’s business in all that we have to do this week that we cannot hear God’s voice.
Let us not be people so busy about our own business in all that we have to do this week that we cannot hear God’s voice.
Let us be people who know when to stop ‘churching’ and start ‘praying’, stop ‘speaking’ and start ‘listening’.
Let us be people who, knowing ourselves to be ‘penniless’, yet because of the deep sacrificial love of our Beloved, ‘in reality have everything worth having.
You, O God, who turns storms into gentle winds
and troubled seas into tranquil waters,
you who made yams grow and bananas blossom,
wash our people with justice,
teach us with righteousness,
speak to us daily,
strengthen us to serve you.
(Bernard Narokobi, Papua New Guinea)
- Whenever you pray this week hide your watch so that prayer takes the amount of time needed not the amount you think it needs.
- I often find myself feeling guilty in Holy Week because I have not always done everything I should have done for love of the One Who Loves us Best. If you find yourself in the same place try to begin each moment of prayer, however short or long, with thanksgiving.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017