Holy Week celebrations at Hillside Methodist Church 2021
Day 1: Sunday March 28th 2021. Palm Sunday. Follow this link to the relevant Worship Archive page.
Day 2: Monday March 29th 2021, with the Manyano: The Cleansing of the temple.
Cleansing of the Temple
I greet you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Matthew 21 vs 12 to 17
I am Angela Mary Penduka, Local Preacher.
Come let us Pray
Mighty God we come before the throne of Grace full of praises and thanksgiving. Lord God as we start the holy week we pray that you open our hearts that they be receptive to your word. May we hear you speak to our individual situations? Thank you Lord for the cross.
Forgive us our trespasses and may we also learn to forgive those who have wronged us.
We pray for the sick, the bereaved and the lonely. We pray for all the leaders within our communities and the church leaders.
We pray in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour
Welcome to the first day of the Holy Week. It is a privilege and honour to represent Manyano.
I would like to thank all the Manyano ladies for their participation in their different roles.
This is a special day for us and very special day for me as I thank the Lord for the gift of life.
It’s my birthday today. My late mom told me I was born on Easter Monday thus she named me Angela Mary (Mary and the Angel at Jesus empty tomb.)
Our Reading comes from the gospel according to Matthew chapter 21 vs 12 to 17
The theme is: The cleansing of The Temple.
1 Jesus enters the temple area where he is confronted by Abuse of the temple people making the place of worship a den of thieves.
They were converting money at high rates (osiphatheleni) Cheating worshippers who needed the local currency to pay the annual temple tax
They were Selling animals for sacrifice which were of poor quality at exorbitant prices and exchanging money at high rates they took advantage of those who came from afar to worship.
The buying and selling took place in the temple area the only area where the gentiles could worship God and gather for prayer.
2 This led to Jesus displaying godly righteous anger ;
Chasing the moneychangers and animals out of the temple. Turning the money changers tables upside down.
This has a deeper meaning:
Replacing an old way of worshipping, which was being abused.
Replacing an old way of offering sacrifices; Him being the final sacrifice.
Affording all, Jew and gentile, equal opportunity of freedom of worship.
3 Jesus still needs to clean the “temple” today
(1 Corinthians 3 vs 16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you.
We still have people defiling The Temple. The church goers who are:
The worshippers of money
The oppressors and abusers of the weak and the poor
4 Jesus is Coming again
May we all strive to live in the daily expectation of that coming? May we judge ourselves that we be not condemned and cast out.
I will conclude with a quote from Malachi 3 vs 2
“But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.”
Only those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb
May you not be found wanting when he comes, be found singing his praises Hosanna, hosanna, and hosanna in the Highest?
Day 3: Tuesday March 30th 2021, with the WA: Special Anointing at Bethany – John 12 v1-11.
Holy Week WA Service
Joyous, generous and spontaneous gift.
Let us begin with a brief background to this particular story.
This follows directly after John records the raising of Lazarus from the dead and the plotting of the chief priests and the Pharisees and this particular event ends with the words that the chief priests “made plans to kill Lazarus as well”. Passover is near and so is “Jesus’ hour”. Many have flocked to Him after the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead but the opposition, the plotting etc have become more intense as the climax to Jesus’ earthly ministry draws near. And when Jesus mentions His burial it is a confirmation that His end is coming.
However, though Jesus has told His disciples about what will happen, at this stage, there is an element of rejoicing amongst those surrounding Jesus. The dinner takes place in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha and perhaps this dinner was one of thanksgiving and gratitude – notice Martha is still serving even though she had had a gentle rebuke from Jesus, but this time she is in the company of Jesus.
It is into this dinner as the guests are reclining comes Mary with a pint of pure nard which is rightly valued at about the income of a manual labourer. Of course as she comes into this gathering there are some things she could have done. She could have given it to one of the disciples for sale and then the proceeds used to help the many poor and sick whom they came across, or she could have used some of it to anoint the guests or she could have…. But Mary came into that gathering not weighing up the options of what she could
do. Mary came knowing what she could do – she had made a decision. Three things influenced her decision. And the emphasis here is on the word “could”.
1 She could give the perfume, breaking it over Jesus’ feet because she had the
perfume. It must have been something she owned. It was given freely. Though it was a costly possession she was willing to give all at once. It was given so extravagantly that the perfume filled the whole house.
2 She could do this because she had the perfect opportunity – an occasion when Jesus was a guest in their home. It appears to be an impulsive/ on the spur of the moment/joyous gift. And because it was her home she could act in this way, wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair – her hair, her crowning glory anointing not His head but His feet as a servant would wash the feet of a guest.
3 And then she could do it because she had the opportunity to do something before Jesus’ death. Mary realises unconsciously that the end is coming. That Jesus’ hour is coming. How did she know? – perhaps she had heard rumours of the opposition against Jesus, perhaps had heard the things Jesus had told the disciples about what was to come but I believe it was because of her friendship with Jesus, the ways in which she was willing to listen to His teachings which opened her heart and mind to the unimaginable in ways she probably did not understand. Vs 7 Jesus says, “Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” Her giving was a generous act – spontaneously done.
The gift, the giver, the receiver, the opportunity all lined up at the right time and Mary decided to act.
Did she have any idea of the eternal consequences of her action? If she had given the perfume to be sold to the poor the money would have been spent and its benefits would soon be over and forgotten. But her action is recorded for all time in the bible and throughout the generations we read of it.
Why do we have this short story in the book of John? Remember that at the end of the gospel we are told that there are not enough books to record everything that Jesus said and did so why these 11 verses?
There is a little phrase in Latin which I believe is applicable here and which may answer the question. The phrase is “carpe diem” – literally seize the day, seize the opportunity.
For whatever reason, Mary seized the opportunity to honour Jesus – in whatever way she could extravagantly. It was a one off gift. Not an obligation, not a commitment. It was made on the spur of the moment, spontaneous.
Is our takeaway, our application to be the ways in which we can honour Jesus?
Not in any planned or pre – meditated ways though of course there may be occasions when we do so in this way but rather that we are so closely aligned with Jesus hearing what He is saying, knowing His will and ways, discerning that which is going on around us that we generously, extravagantly, spontaneously, joyously, at a moment’s notice do something without thought of the cost – a phone call, a purchase of groceries, a visit, a financial gift, paying a bill for someone or their school fees – doing it because we can, because we could, because the need, the giver, the recipient, the opportunity
all line up? And though we do it without fanfare, without a public show, in the privacy of our own homes, but with joy – it will be known throughout the generations. We do it not because we have been told to do it, feel obligated, out of duty to someone or an organisation but generously and spontaneously and joyfully for our Lord who went to the cross, died, was buried, rose and ascended into heaven.
What jar of nard will we feel compelled to break in joy, honour, recognition,
thanksgiving and service of our Lord?
Day 4: Wednesday March 31st 2021, with the MCU and Men’s Fellowship: The Betrayal of Jesus – Matthew 26 v14-16.
THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS
Good evening brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Ivan Chigwada. We are on the third day of our Holy Week Services. We benefitted tremendously from Monday and Tuesday’s services. I pray that this and future Holy Week Services will not only benefit us, but will make us look forward to serving God in humility and according to His will just as our Master did as He moved towards the Cross.
Let us pray
Matthew 26:14-16. ‘Then one of the Twelve-the one called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests and asked them ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.’ Amen
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen
The betrayal of Jesus is in my humble opinion a matter which is best understood through looking at what we have just read in Matthew in the exact sequence in which the very words appear in the Holy Book. One hopes that at the end we will remember where and how we started. All of us love beautiful stories especially those that end well with the prince and princess setting off and disappearing into the sunset. Life is generally not like that. In life we meet those that hurt and disappoint others. This is one of those stories in which the Bible lays bare what depraved man does to his fellow men.
The phrase ‘one of the Twelve,’ makes me realize that when we are told there were but twelve and one of them was a devil, surely we must never expect any society on this side of eternity to be perfectly pure. A bad apple among twelve is a frightening statistic, hence the conclusion just made. It seems little is given to what we know as responding to the call of duty or to the sense of gratitude, nothing it seems can restrain a devil, and in this lies the greatest danger man has to contend with. It is possible for a hypocrite to go through the world not only undiscovered but totally unsuspected, like bad money so ingeniously counterfeited nobody questions it. This is why in the life of the Church when the one we do not suspect of being associated with wrongdoing is exposed or is taken before the law courts for something big, we should not be surprised but in reality are actually surprised that counterfeits are part and parcel of Christian Society just as counterfeit money is part and parcel of an economy of a nation. It was Judas who went to the chief priests. They did not send for him or make a proposal to him. The chief priests could not have thought that one of Christ’s own disciples should be false to Him. This, my brothers and sisters is the reality. Devils in deed live among us! The redeeming thing is that it is only with the knowledge and authority of God that they exercise their power on us His children! He the LORD God allows them to inflict us and do whatever, subject only to His say so. That is why although they appear to have the power to destroy totally, they end up not destroying. Remember the story of Job!
The phrase ‘What are you willing to give me?’ reveals something very sinister about Judas Iscariot. He actually hoped to get money by betraying Jesus Christ. His Master had not given him any provocation, though He knew from the first instance that He had a devil. It was not the hatred of his Master, or any quarrel with Him, but purely the love of money that made Judas a traitor. It is not the lack of money, but the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evil.
As per the King James Version of the Bible the next phrase is ‘I will deliver Him.’ By this Judas meant ‘I will let you know where He is and bring you to Him at a convenient time and place that you may seize Him without the danger of an uproar.’ The chief priests had contemplated seizing Him after the Passover when everyone would have left Jerusalem. Christ was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane when there was no crowd around but his disciples! It is fascinating to note that Judas did not offer to be a witness to testify against Christ. If there had been anything to be alleged against Him, Judas was the likeliest person to have to do so. He never was going to be. This then is the evidence of the innocence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ that His disciple who knew his doctrine and manner of life so well and was false to Him, could not charge Him with anything criminal although prepared to have Him arrested as a criminal!
Then there is the ‘thirty pieces of silver.’ Yes according to the law (Exodus 21:32) thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave, but this is not the issue. The issue is that Judas Iscariot was willing to take what the chief priests were willing to give. He accepted the first offer. He could not even bargain for more even if he knew that the chief priests desperately needed his service of positively identifying Jesus. Nobody else but the ones Jesus was living with could do this. Shame! A little money went a great way to Judas Iscariot! This was the character of the man!
When we hear that ‘from that moment he watched for an opportunity to hand Him over’ we see a man whose head was still working to find how he might carry out his plan of betraying Jesus so that Jesus would end up in the custody of the chief priests who intended to eliminate Him. Ironically we however know that Judas only set off to execute his plan when told by our Lord Jesus to go on and do what he had planned. This brings us back to our story that only when devils are allowed and authorised to act against the child of God, THAT IS WHEN THEY WILL ACT! The LORD God is always in control and He shall always be. Hallelujah!!!!!
I have heard it preached that once in a while as children of God we need our Judas to get us to our destiny, as the arrest of Jesus was aided by Judas Iscariot. Let me give my view. The fact that Christ knew and literally commissioned Judas to get the ball rolling proves His omniscience. The fact that He knew all things that should befall Him and yet did not draw back or interfere with the whole plan proves and magnified His great love. When He told His disciples that one of them would betray Him, it was not only that they should be less surprised but through that, have their faith in Him confirmed. In our case when a trusted or a familiar person ambushes us or lets us down, we won’t be knowing in advance that that is what they are intent on, thus as soon as they execute their plan we will feel very hurt by such action. My brothers and sisters we do not need a Judas Iscariot or a Judas Iscariot moment in our life. What we need is love from all those we know and that know us. We are commanded to love one another and not to be traitors and enemies of our fellowmen. It thus implies that we all should not be hypocrites and counterfeits but that in all our dealings we should be genuine and reliable like real money which may be used anywhere and at any time. Counterfeits do not meet these conditions because they are not the real thing.
If it was theologically correct that we need a Judas Iscariot or a Judas Iscariot moment in our lives Psalm 1:1 ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers’ would not be there in the Holy Scriptures! Judas purposely went to seek and sit in the company of those who were planning evil and as scripture condemns him, as it does here, we are commanded not to embrace the person or the type of conduct which scripture is against.
Moreover Matthew 26:24 shines a very bright light on this topic. ‘The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man. It would be better for him if he had not been born.’ Jesus said this not only to awaken the conscience of Judas and bring him to repent but for a warning to all others to take heed of sinning like Judas. Although God can serve His own purpose by the sins of men, that does not make the sinner’s condition less woeful. Sin is sin. Child of God do you wish to embrace and accept the one whom the Son of Man says is so doomed they will surely wish they had not been born? No I do not think you should because that would be very wrong. You therefore don’t need a Judas moment or a Judas in your life, not at all!
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, from today, go out and be the ones who live with love for neighbour brightly radiating from them! Amen!
Day 5: Thursday April 1st 2021, with Rev Bekithemba Phiri: Institution of Holy Communion and The Last Supper – John 13: 1-17, Luke 9: 51-56.