Learning to Live… Through Jesus, Our Neighbours and Each Other


This year I offer some reflections on the Cross and resurrection from my files.   Many poems and hymns have been written on the events of Holy Week.  May they inspire your reflections in this sacred time.



I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the Cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.     [THE CROSS  –  John Stott]



When I look at the blood
all I see is love, love, love.
When I stop at the cross
I can see the love of God.

But I can’t see competition.
I can’t see hierarchy.
I can’t see pride or prejudice
or the abuse of authority.
I can’t see lust for power.
I can’t see manipulation.
I can’t see rage or anger
or selfish ambition.

I can’t see unforgiveness.
I can’t see hate or envy.
I can’t see stupid fighting
or bitterness, or jealousy.
I can’t see empire building.
I can’t see self-importance.
I can’t see back-stabbing
or vanity or arrogance.

I see surrender, sacrifice, salvation,
humility, righteousness, faithfulness, grace, forgiveness,
love! Love … love…

When I stop! … at the cross
I can see the love of God.

[Geoffrey Birtell]



God Moves in Mysterious Ways

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.


William Cowper was a British poet and hymnist. He struggled throughout his life with depression, doubts, and fears.




‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’  (John 3.16-17)

When the world rejected that love and crucified it, Jesus did not lash back; he cried out in love and forgiveness.

There is an old legend that after his death, Judas found himself at the bottom of a deep and slimy pit.  For thousands of years he wept his repentance, and when the tears were finally spent he looked up and saw, way, way up, a tiny glimmer of light.  After he had contemplated it for another thousand years or so, he began to try to climb up towards it.  The walls of the pit were dank and slimy, and he kept slipping back down.  Finally, after great effort, he neared the top, and then he slipped and fell all the way back down.  It took him many years to recover, all the time weeping bitter tears of grief and repentance, and then he started to climb up again.  After many more falls and efforts and failures he reached the top and dragged himself into an upper room with twelve people seated around a table.

‘We’ve been waiting for you, Judas,’  Jesus said.  ‘We couldn’t begin till you came.’

After the crucifixion, the defeated little band of disciples had no hope, no expectation of resurrection.  Everything they believed in had died on the cross with Jesus.  The world was right and they were wrong.  Even when the women told the disciples that Jesus had left the stone-sealed tomb, they found it nearly impossible to believe that it was not all over.  The truth was, it was just beginning …!   [Madeline L’Engle]



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