Watch and pray
CICC reviews Araka
| Disciples in Gethsemane
As Easter approaches Christians are conscious that the resurrection of Jesus
was preceded by his passion.
That is the time of his betrayal, his trial, suffering
and death. For some, Easter is merely an extra long weekend. Some may make
a big deal out of buying
hot cross buns or Easter eggs. But I would encourage the readers of Churchtalk
page to enter into the spirit of what is happening to Christ during his passion
and take it to prayer. “Could you not stay awake for one hour? Watch
and pray lest you enter into some testing time.” (Mark 14: 37-38)
who pray imaginatively on Christ’s life find it difficult to contemplate
him in his passion. Their minds go blank, or they are overcome with guilt
feelings, or afflicted with a sadness verging on despair. Their distress
may arise from
two very different reasons: false notions of the meaning of the passion
or it maybe that they are sharing in Christ’s passion at a deeper
level than ever before.
In contemplating the passion, as in any other event
of the Gospels, put
yourself in the scene as though it was happening at this moment, yourself
in it. Be there as though you were seeing the scene for the first time,
you see Christ the man, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.
A verse of John’s gospel refers to a messianic prophecy
of Zechariah: “They
shall look on him whom they have pierced” John 19:37 The beloved
disciple, John, present at Calvary together with Mary, the mother
of Jesus and some other
women, was an eye witness to the thrust of the lance that passed
die causing blood and water to flow forth. John 19: 31 – 34.
That gesture by an anonymous Roman soldier, destined to be lost
in oblivion, remained impressed
on the eyes and heart of John, who takes it up in his gospel. How
many conversions have come about down the centuries thanks to the
message of love that
the one who looks upon Jesus crucified receives!
crucified One with the eyes of faith, we can understand in depth
what sin is, how tragic is its gravity, and at the same
time, how immense
is the Lord’s power of forgiveness and mercy.
You may find
it helpful to hold a crucifix as you pray. Even looking at a
picture of the cross. What I want to encourage is that you
don’t keep yourself
at a distance from this mystery. Certainly not to be at a distance
in your heart. Looking at Christ, feel at the same time his looking
down at you. He
whom we have pierced with our faults never tires of pouring out
upon the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love.
to emphasize that only by looking at Jesus dead on the cross
for us can this fundamental truth be known and contemplated: “God
is love” (1
John 4:8, 16).
As others were very much involved in the passion
of Jesus, we may use one of these people as an entry point into
chosen appeal to me personally. There are others that might appeal
to you. Use them. Eg. The apostle John: Mary the mother of Jesus.
I note in my prayer is that I can use one of these people today
back to prayer at another time I can start the prayer again focusing
on another person involved in the passion story.
| Pilate washes hands
The man who condemns Jesus to death. But then washes his hands
of the deed, sensing a massive miscarriage of justice. Pilate
shows he does
the strength of character to do what is right. He is influenced
the majority – by
Identifying with Pilate in your prayer, you may well
pray telling the Lord that you are conscious of the times you
have not held
principles and values because of the influence of those around
you. Perhaps you
involved in a miscarriage of justice. You might well pray:
Loving God, you placed your son in harm’s way to show
your unconditional love for us. Give us courage to take up
our cross in life.
| Judas kiss
The apostle who at the last supper said to Jesus, “Surely not
14:19) When Judas met Jesus in Gethsemane he kissed Jesus
(Mark14:45) but it was a deceitful and treacherous kiss. It was not a kiss
of love because Judas’ heart
was far from Jesus.
It will take a bit of courage to pray
identifying with Judas for many of us will not want to admit there is
something like Judas
in us. Judas
known as the betrayer. This is the grimmest and most
awful thing in all the gospel story.
If there any incidences of abandoning
someone when they most needed a friend it may not be too hard to identify
away from their child. A child who has disowned a parent.
When I failed to stand
with a friend in their time of need. Here our words
in prayer may go something like this: “Loving God,
your beloved son fell under the weight of our sin,
as he carried his cross. Give us the courage to get up and
carry on when
Peter promised that even if all lost faith in Jesus
he would not (Mark14; 49). Yet when Peter was in
the high priest’s house he denied
Jesus three times when he was put under pressure.
A close look at the way this is
written in Greek would say the third denial is ambiguous
When we sin,
it is not because of a lapse of faith, it is because
our faith is weak. Listen
what Peter said, “I neither know nor understand
what you are talking about”. Mark 14: 68. “I
do not know this man about whom you are talking”.
Thinking of Peter in our prayer we will be well aware
just as Peter was forgiven and restored by Jesus
we too are forgiven and restored
by Jesus when we repent.
These who stood by and watched heaped insults on
him reminding us of the insults that can be inflicted
of Jesus today.
“Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and
said to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards greeted him with blows.
(Mark 14: 65.)
Not all of the bystanders were like this. Simon
of Cyrene is forced to help Jesus carry his cross.
too can alleviate
sufferings in others, if we recognize
the pain and do something. Or like many who witnessed
Jesus carrying his cross we can add to his pain.
were the women of Jerusalem who lament at the sight of him. Jesus is mindful
to save their tears for themselves and their
This may lead us to pray to the God
of love, seeking help that there are always those who
off than we are
God to help
out to them
One of these women is actually
named, Veronica. She comes forward in a gesture of compassion
of Jesus with a
prayer here maybe for the helpers God has
sent to comfort us in suffering. True and
friends. Too we might
the image of your son in others who suffer.
captain of the guard
You may not have paid too much attention
to the captain of the guard before. Don’t
pass over him lightly. Mark’s gospel
is made up of 16 chapters. In the first
chapter the opening verses introduces
us to Jesus Christ, the
Son of God by using the words of the
Prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist to
identify him. At the baptism the voice
from heaven says “You are my own
dear Son. I am pleased with you.”
Now turn your bible to the middle of
the Gospel, Mark 8:27 – 30 and
Mark has Peter answering Jesus, “You
are the Messiah.” Peter is answering
the question presented in the opening
verses of the gospel and tells us who
And now in Mark 15: 39 the army
officer who was standing there in front
Jesus had died.
This man was
The religious leaders had failed to recognise
who Jesus was and killed him on a cross.
Outsiders such as the army officer through
what he had witnessed
on the cross come to faith and believed
As you think of this army officer
you might pray asking that as you recall
Lord Jesus Christ
Christ is and what his death on the cross
is really portraying. It is the great
depth of God’s love for the human
race of which I am a part.
Two scripture texts come to mind. The
first is this when Jesus called the
him. “If anyone wants to come
with me,” he
told them, “he must forget self,
carry his cross and follow me, for
whoever wants to save his life will
lose it; but whoever loses his life
for me and
for the gospel will save it. Does a
person gain anything if he wins the
whole world but loses his life.”
the second comes after James and John
had requested to sit on the right
throne of Jesus
in his glorious
you drink the cup of suffering that
I must drink?” Of course they
If Jesus asked you this
question how would you answer him
as many today
want to live
Bishop Paul Donoghue
CICC reviews Araka
The Avarua Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) is currently undergoing a review of its Araka and is seeking all interested members of its congregation to join the discussion.
The church examines its Araka every two years to update the document that helps guide its direction, ambitions, policies and strategies into the future.
Avarua CICC secretary Makirere Poila said about 60 people joined the discussion on its first night on Tuesday, but there was plenty more room at the Sinai Hall for people wanting to come along on the remaining nights.
The review will go over four nights, beginning Tuesday and ending Friday.
Poila said that if people had not yet joined the discussions, they could still do so. Each night church leaders and reverends will examine a different topic and how the Bible relates to them.
On Tuesday, the meetings looked at marriage and the Bible’s interpretation and teachings on it.
Last night, the discussions turned to tithes and how each member of any church should aim to donate 10 percent of their income to their church.
Tonight, the church will look at how people can renew their relationship with God.
Tomorrow night, the meetings will look at ‘our calling’ and also hold a youth programme with youth director Bob Williams.
Poila said the discussions on ‘our calling’ was hard to translate into English, but suggested the following as a map for the evening: “Te kapikianga e kapiki ia ei tatou. Kua kapiki ia kotou kia aere kia Iesu e kua akarongo tatou. Eaa ta tatou ka rave.”
After each of the discussion sessions, the meetings will look at a different section of the Avarua CICC’s Araka.
Poila said there had not been many changes made so far, but he encouraged anybody interested in shaping the future paths of the Avarua CICC to come along to the meetings.