Worship archive – April 2020

Mid-Week Services for April 29th 2020 from Connexion:

Audio message in Ndebele with Rev B Tshuma.
Audio message in English with Adv I Ndudzo.
Audio message in Shona with Rev Mafumuke.

Sunday Services for April 26th 2020 from Connexion:

Evening service with Rev B Chinhara.
Audio message in Shona with Rev Simango.
Audio message in English with Rev Makore.

Sunday Services for April 26th 2020 from Hillside Circuit:

Here are the YouTube links for the songs for today, chosen by the Hillside Methodist Church Worship Team, or you can go to the Songs for worship webpage where you can find them embedded.
Trust and Obey.
We are Marching in the Light of God.
Refiner’s Fire (Purify My Heart).
God Will Make a Way.
My Peace (Benediction).

You can also find more prayers, taken from the Methodist Service Book, at the Prayers for worship webpage.

Audio message for Sunday April 26th 2020 in vernacular with Mrs Fadziso Mapuna.
Audio message for Sunday April 26th 2020 in English with Mrs Angela Penduka.

If the above audio doesn’t work on your device, please try this one below:

Audio message for Sunday April 26th 2020 in English with Mrs Angela Penduka.

The Sunday Service Message based on The Reading from Luke 24 vs. 13-25
Supported By the Readings From
Psalm 116
Acts 2 vs. 14a & 36-41
1 Peter 1 vs. 17-23
Jesus walks with us and Eats with us
When in deep sorrow when all we believed in has vanished, when our cause is destroyed do we realize the presence of God in our Christian Walk? Do we remember his promises? Do we remember that “The Lord is gracious & righteous; our God is full of compassion” Ps 116 vs. 5. Ladies and gentleman as we face the Covid 19 crisis as we lose our loved ones let’s not forget his promises. He may not deliver all from the snares of physical death; like David we shall say “You O lord have delivered my soul from death.” We shall remember that “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of saints”. Yes the world is facing physical death, but let us not forget our souls were redeemed at Calvary. While we were sinners God sent His Son who came to redeem us from the snares of sin. A ransom, as Peter wrote, was paid to set us free. We were bought not of the perishable but the imperishable.
Today is the 2nd Sunday after Jesus resurrection and our theme is Jesus Walks with us and Eats with us.
The culture during Jesus time on earth and even now among the Arabs, to eat with someone was tantamount to saying you are my friend and that you will not harm me. Jesus walks and eats with those who have accepted him as their Lord and savior and extends this relation to all who are willing. He will walk with us like he walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The two disciples one only named as Cleopas and the second one is not named are speaking to one another about Christ their Master who was crucified. Christ joins them walks with them in their deep sorrow they don’t recognize him. Whom do you walk with? What do you discuss? What encouragement there is to believers to speak to one another about Christ.
Ref Malachi 3 vs16 & 17a—Those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard—-They will be mine says the Lord I will spare them—
This story can speak to us when we feel that we are not on a positive journey forward, when both justice and peace seem far away, God comes to meet us as we struggle to put one foot in front of another. Jesus walks with us.
The story shows how God walks beside us and can transform even the deepest bereavement and loss into a journey of hope.
The story shows how weak and imperfect was the knowledge of some of our Lord’s disciples. How they were so quick to forget his teaching and promises. Let us also not forget the promises. I will never leave you nor forsake you. The two disciples forgot that Jesus had said He will rise again and that Jesus never promised to deliver them from the Roman Empire. They had a temporal redemption from a Roman emperor in mind not a spiritual redemption by a sacrificial death.
“We had hoped,” they said. They had lost their hope for a new kind of world, they had lost their cause the Gospel i.e. good news for the poor. Today many are in sorrow we had hoped that our businesses would be at a different level, we had hoped we would doing our last semester at University, we had hoped that our children, our relatives abroad would support us financially but some have lost their jobs, some worse still are no more.
“We had hoped.” They had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel from political bondage. Did they understand His purpose? Jesus did not just come for the temporary comfort of humanity but eternal redemption of our souls? When they sang Hosanna (Save Us) at the triumphant entry into Jerusalem what did they want to be saved from, when we sing Hosanna today what salvation are we advocating for? Is it being saved from poverty, sickness or oppression? Is this the kind of salvation the Messiah is offering? Yes we may need these but I say ladies and gentlemen let us look at the bigger picture. We need to be saved from sin our souls need salvation through faith. Peter says believe and be baptized then you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We need to walk and dine with him and all the other blessings will come to us according to His Will.
Jesus (in Luke) is the fulfillment of the whole of the Old Testament — that is, Jesus’s life, death and resurrection complete the overall trajectory of Old Testament hope, Jesus takes time to explain Scripture before his disciples can truly see him. He explains how the Old Testament is full of the Christ they were talking about.
• Christ is the substance of the Old testament sacrifice
• Christ is the Deliverer & King above all the old Testament Judges and Kings
• Christ is the prophet greater than Moses
• The seed of a woman who was to bruise the serpent’s head, the seed in whom all nations would be blessed, the High Priest and the true lamb the final sacrifice for our sins
Why were the disciples so blind that they could not immediately identify their beloved master? Was it because they saw Jesus’ death as the end of God’s plan for our salvation?
They expected a Messiah who would liberate Israel from Roman rule. They did not expect God’s anointed to suffer. However, as Jesus himself tells his travelling companions, that is what the prophets promised in the Old Testament.
We as Christians likewise were not promised a life without challenges. Those who are looking for a Christ who will give them miracle money who will give them easy life, those who are looking for a glorious Jesus to come and rescue them from their enemies with violence and power might miss the humble Jesus who shows up on the road with them.
Peter thus tells us to live in this world as strangers. We must have reverent fear of God the fear that draws us to His Love and mercy. Jesus is love he has loved us and died for us. Peter also urges us as Christians to be Christ like, love one another be our brother’s keeper. Do we know what is happening next door?
Conclusion: We need to come to the table as a blood-bought family, eager to receive all the grace we need in the fight of faith, and eat and drink with Jesus. We need to walk forward together with our Savior toward eternal glory in the strength that he supplies. What shall separate us from the love of God? Even scary viruses will not, poverty will not, losing jobs will not. Let’s walk with the Lord in the Light of his way and continue to trust and obey for there is no other way.
Amen.

Let us pray; Mighty God we thank you Lord for your Word which is always in season. Thank you Lord for Jesus Christ our redeemer the Emmanuel God with us. Thank you for your promises, your love and mercy
Help us Oh Lord that despite all the calamities may we not forget that you are an ever present God. May we not depart from your statutes, may we not depart from your presence and your promises. It is our prayer Oh Lord that the situation prevailing world over can bring humanity even closer to you Holy God that we learn not to trust in worldly things but only in you.
We continue to pray for the sick and the bereaved, Give wisdom we pray to World leaders and those working to find vaccines against the Covid 19 virus. Thank you Lord that despite the lock down and restriction we can still reach out to you.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and beyond the Covid 19 pandemic and forever more Amen?

By: Angela Mary Penduka
Hillside Society- Methodist Church in Zimbabwe


Mid Week Services for April 22nd 2020 from Connexion:

The Mid Week Service in Shona can be found on Facebook by following this link or on YouTube at this link or you can find it on the Video messages for worship page on this website. Alternatively you can listen to the audio version here:

Mid week service in Shona with Rev Machirori.

The Mid Week Service in English can be found on Facebook at this link or follow this link to get it on YouTube or you can go to the Video messages for worship page on this website. If video is not for you, you can get the audio version here below:

Mid week service in English with Rev Molife.

Sunday Service for April 19th 2020 from Connexion with Rev K Matemba (Shona language):

Sunday service in Shona with Rev K Matemba.

Sunday Service for April 19th 2020 from Connexion with Rev J S Mudenda (Ndebele language):

Sunday service in Ndebele with Rev J S Mudenda.

Sunday Service for April 19th 2020 from Connexion with Rev W Dimingu (English language):

Sunday service in English with Rev W Dimingu.

Sunday Service for April 19th 2020 from Hillside Circuit:

The message for today, with Mr Ivan Chigwada:
(Scroll down to find the audio version)

OUR THEME, DEATH CHAINS FAILED TO HOLD HIM, taken from Acts 2:14a, 22-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9 and John 20:19-31, is the testament to the outcome of the story of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross handed down to us by Simon Peter and John who not only were first-hand witnesses of the drama but were part of the cast. Their testimony is truth. On the Cross, when He said ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit’ Luke 23 v 46, Christ leaves us in no doubt that while those who handed Him over for crucifixion had set out to get rid of and eliminate Him, their mission failed dismally because all the time it was Him who was in full control of directing each and every step of His crucifixion and death. They thought they had killed Him when reality was, on the Cross Christ died! That death on the Cross, an event whose origin was in the Will of the Divine, and not one directed by mortals, turned out to be the sacrifice and method for saving man from the guilt and power of sin. We know that sacrifices were done and presided over by priests. Of Good Friday’s masterstroke, Christ was presiding priest and sacrifice all rolled in one, so His death on the Cross was not to be the end. As Priest, He would live to review the result of His work! And that death would inaugurate a community of believers which forever would celebrate that day as Good Friday, for on that day yes He died, YET on the third day He rose from the grave. “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph over His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign, He arose, He arose, Alleluia Christ arose,” aptly becomes the ideal song to sing!

This is the story that Peter at Acts 2: 14a, 22-32, is boldly and confidently telling the people of Jerusalem! ‘People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders and signs through Him, as you know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of the lawless Gentiles, you nailed Him to a Cross and killed Him. But God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.’ No one else but Peter could confidently speak as he did. Recruited into service by Christ, a constant disciple for a period of three years, he heard Christ talk of his impending death at Jerusalem and heard Him say ‘But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there’ Matthew 26 v 32. Peter a fallible man who in a moment of weakness rejected his master at the Cross had earlier on acknowledged the same master as the Christ! Remembering the words, ‘The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up’ John 10:17 Peter was headed for belief for way before it happened, those around Him had been warned of what would happen. It does not matter that at the time of hearing, His audience including Peter, had no clue as to what He was talking about, but praise be to God, one day on being reminded of His words that lot would believe. Belief is the bedrock of faith! ‘Death chains could not hold Him’ ‘because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.’ Like Peter you too can come to this level of belief, he knew those who die, are buried never to return! Not so for his and my Master, Peter saw the conqueror of death and was revived!

A word of caution to those leading life on this side of eternity is ideal. Governments of the day have said there is a disease ravaging the world and because as yet there is no cure, the only viable method of depriving this disease of its potency and power is for people to stay at home in quarantine. Governments are instituted by God and they serve God’s purpose. Those who are running around ignoring lockdown rules, claiming that the blood of Jesus will protect them even as they deliberately expose themselves to the danger of infection are making a very big mistake. Do not tempt fate unless you are as strong as a horse! Do not beckon death to come your way! Humility, not pride is called for in the face of adversity! Humility in the presence of adversity and the Lord earned the penitent thief his passport to heaven, we have no idea of what became of his pompous accomplice on the cross but we know he was not conveyed to paradise!

To me John 20 v 19-31 represents the best fulfilment of prophecy. The Gospel of John at 14:29 gives us the purpose of prophesy. ‘I have told you now, before it happens so that when it does happen, you will believe.’ Belief blossoms into faith when prophecies we will have heard at an earlier date are fulfilled and come true! On countless occasions while with them, Jesus had told his disciples of his death and resurrection. One fateful day the disciples witnessed the arrest of their Master, some heard about his trial before the Caiaphases and Pilates of this world, while Simon Peter and John witnessed his trial, John witnessed his crucifixion and from whatever hole they were hiding, the other not so brave cowards heard that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried their Master in the grave hewed in stone. There was thus no doubt in their minds that their Master had died. Was it over? When He appeared to them in the locked upper room where they were for fear of the Jews, His appearance became prophesy fulfilled, and they believed. In belief, faith and power they would move preaching that He in deed lives, because it was clear to them that the chain of death had failed keep its hold on him!

The prophecy of King David at Psalm 16, ‘For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave,’ was fulfilled on Easter Sunday. Based on this and other prophecies fulfilled we now believe and have faith in Jesus Christ! His entry into the upper room as told us by those who were first hand witnesses of what happened spurs us on to believe! We cannot afford to be doubting Thomases, who, must see, to believe. Jesus Christ came and lived with mankind 2000 years ago. We must believe that He came to grace this planet called earth because of the testimony of those who were first hand witnesses of His life and work. We cannot and should not expect Him to return to make us believe. We can believe that Jesus is the Son of God! We can believe in the power of Jesus Christ to save and convey us into the presence of the Father where we shall live forever and ever, because He lives! Our belief will teach those who will come after us to believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Saviour who as THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, lives in the hearts of His saints imparting His divine nature to them.

Additionally we get more revelation when we take in the words of Hymn 202 from Hymns and Psalms. ‘He lives forever with His saints to reign.’ Yes death man’s biggest enemy came even to Christ via the Cross, but it was defeated by the same Christ for man’s benefit! So now child of God what chain, what prison, what demon holds you in clutches, that the power of Christ who lives in you will not overcome? Is it bondage to fear, to superstition, to false gods, to priests and rituals, to ancient traditions, to laws –those chains cannot hold you in because you were loosed by the power of Christ! Luke 4:18. Simon Peter in his epistle assures us that through believing in Christ ‘The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of our souls!’ We trust with ease when all is well and good. In times of trouble though, we do not want to trust anyone but ourselves. Christ remains with His saints as they go through trials and tribulation. He knows you are very frightened of Covid-19, you are genuinely afraid of cancer, you dread being rendered poor by the collapsing economies of this world, you worry about world-wide tensions and you are scared of scheming relatives and friends! He knows you are afraid of death! Christ however also knows that you seem to forget that this space you live in is God’s world! God has His good plans for His world which He carries out in His opportune time! Even with deadly threats headed your way, believe Christ’s assurance that He who died and now lives, will live with you through the storm and when all is over since storms dissipate, He will even convey you to the Father’s presence in paradise. Jesus loves you so much He died for you and rose for you so that even the worst of man’s enemies will not overwhelm you! He lives forever with His saints to reign. You will not perish. You are His saint and so you shall reign with Him. I hope you realize what reigning means! You are in charge, you have the power and you have the authority in the name of Jesus Christ. That power means as His saint even though you die you shall live with Him! Will you be His saint today? I pray that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with you now and forever more!

In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, from Ivan Chigwada, be blessed, Amen!


Here are the songs for Sunday Worship, chosen by the Hillside Methodist Church Worship Team:
Crown him with many crowns
Love divine all loves excelling
And can it be that I should gain
He is Lord

[Click or tap on each of the above links to open a YouTube rendition in a new tab, or you can get them all on the Songs for Worship webpage.]


If you would like some prayers from The Methodist Service Book, many can be found on the Prayers for Worship webpage, where you can make your own selection as appropriate.


Here below is the audio version of the message for Sunday April 19th 2020 with Mr Ivan Chigwada:

Sunday Service from Hillside Circuit with Mr Ivan Chigwada.

Mid-Week Message:

In case you can’t manage to get it on Facebook Live, here are this afternoon’s Mid-Week Messages (Wednesday April 15th 2020):

Mid-Week service in Shona, Tonga, Ndebele, with Rev R Makwara.
Mid Week service in English with Rev. B Lombard.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

The video message for Easter Day, presented by Rev Nobuhle Sibanda is now available on Facebook at this link. Or you go to the Video messages for worship webpage on this website.

Here are the songs for Easter Day, Sunday April 12th 2020, chosen by the Hillside Methodist Church Worship Team:
Christ the Lord is risen today
Thine be the glory
Low in the grave he lay
See what a morning
Lord I lift your name on high
You laid aside your majesty

[Click or tap on each of the above links to open a YouTube rendition in a new tab, or you can get them all on the Songs for Worship webpage.]


Here below are the audio versions of the Easter Day messages,
in Ndebele with Bishop Matthew Ncube,
in Shona with Rev B Chinhara
and in English with Rev Saul Tadzaushe.
The video versions from YouTube can be found on the Video messages for worship webpage. Note that the video versions also include choral items and prayers.

Sermon for Easter Day in Ndebele with Bishop Matthew Ncube.

Sermon for Easter Day in Shona with Rev B Chinhara.

Sermon for Easter Day in English with Rev Saul Tadzaushe.

Songs for Good Friday, April 10th 2020, prepared by the Hillside Methodist Church Worship Team:
Jesus keep me near the cross.
When I survey the wondrous cross.
Here is love vast as the ocean.
How deep the Father’s love for us.
In Christ alone.

[Click or tap on each of the above to open a YouTube version in a new tab.]

See the Good News webpage for the Good Friday devotions The Seven Words of Jesus from the Cross, presented by seven preachers in the Hillside Circuit.


Here is the Maundy Thursday evening service, for Thursday April 9th 2020, prepared by Rev Margaret James:

Good evening. Today we remember that Jesus was crucified at Passover time. The annual Jewish celebration of their nation’s escape from Egypt about 1400 years before the birth of Jesus. He instituted the sacrament which is observed by the majority of Christian denominations in different ways and using different names. We usually call it the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion, but others use other names such as ‘The Eucharist’ (meaning Thanksgiving), or the ‘Breaking of Bread’ or ‘The Mass’. If you are together as a family in your home, you might like to hold your own little service using a piece of ordinary bread and a cup of water.
It would be good to start with the singing of a hymn or a Christian chorus. A suitable one might be “Jesus keep me near the cross” (Jesu ndisededzei).

[Click or tap on the above links to open new tabs to get the songs on YouTube.]

Our first reading comes from John’s Gospel which has the only record of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
Reading from John 13 verses 1 – 9
“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No” said Peter “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord”, Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

COMMENT.
Here we have an amazing example of the humility of Jesus. The washing of the feet of the guests was considered to be the work of the lowest of the slaves in a household. Jesus was alone with the disciples in the Upper Room preparing to eat the Passover meal. I can imagine that some of the disciples were arguing with each other about whose turn it was to do this dirty task of washing the feet of people who had been walking in sandals along the dusty, dirty roads of Jerusalem.
Perhaps Jesus knew about the argument that was going on and he decided to give them a practical example of the way that Christians should be willing to do the simplest and most humble tasks for one another. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we are too important or clever to do the simple, humble jobs that need to be done, not only in Church but especially at home. We all need to do our share of the work and to help one another.

Let us pray,
Father, on this night, the night on which he was betrayed, your Son Jesus Christ washed his disciples’ feet and said that we should wash one another’s feet.
We commit ourselves to follow his example of love and service.
Lord hear us and humble us.
On this night Jesus prayer for those would come to believe in him. We pray for the mission of your Church.
Lord hear us and renew our zeal.
On this night Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another, but he himself was rejected.
On this night Jesus told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them. We remember in your presence all who have died and those who have been bereaved.
Lord hear us and renew our hope and trust in you. AMEN.

Surprisingly Johns Gospel doesn’t have a record of the Lord’s Supper, so I want us to read it from
1 Corinthians 11 verses 23 – 27. This letter was probably written before any of the gospels and so is the oldest written record of this very important event.
I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he and given thanks, he broke it and said “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

COMMENT
It is truly amazing that Jesus took the traditional Jewish Passover Supper, which was held in homes, and transformed it into this key sacrament of the Christian faith.
The unleavened bread, which was traditional at Passover, becomes for us the memorial of Christ’s death. He suffered unimaginable agony as the Lamb of God, who paid the price of our redemption, who made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven, so that we might become God’s own children.
The cup of wine, which was passed around during the Passover Meal, speaks to us of the life blood of Christ which was poured out for us. By his death he has given us life through the Holy Spirit living within us.

We can’t gather for the usual Easter Services but we can make it a special time of quiet meditation and prayer in our homes.
LET US PRAY.
Lord our God, you brought everything into existence, and created us in your own image and likeness.
When in our sin we turned from you, you did not leave us in darkness.
On the night of the Passover you delivered your chosen people.
In the wilderness you fed them with bread from heaven and led them to the promised land.
In your enduring love, you sent your Son to be our Saviour.
By his life and death and his rising from the tomb, you offer to all the gift of eternal life.
Through Jesus you sent your Holy Spirit to be with your people for ever.
God of grace and mercy, we remember how, on this night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread and gave you thanks;
He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat it,
This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
After supper he took the cup; he gave you thanks and gave it to them, saying,
Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.
Dying you destroyed our death.
Rising you restored our life.
Lord Jesus, come in glory. Come into our lives. Come into our hearts. AMEN


Sunday April 5th 2020: Palm Sunday Service with: Revd B. Phiri. May God bless you. Find it at https://www.facebook.com/Methodist-Church-in-Zimbabwe-Hillside-Circuit-106936164292087/ on Facebook.

And/or we can read the set Bible readings and reflect on them with the help of the notes provided here below by Rev. Bekithemba Phiri, and these songs chosen by the Hillside Methodist Church Worship Team:

The video for this message can be found on the Video messages for worship page on this website, but note that it might take a while to come through and the video quality has been reduced.

Alternatively, here is the audio of the message from Rev B Phiri:

Message for Palm Sunday with Rev B Phiri

“Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest”
“All Glory, Laud and Honour”
“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty”
“Make Way, Make Way”

(Follow this link to open a new tab with the full words and YouTube links for these songs.)

Palm Sunday Service
Recorded from the Circuit Office.
Theme – He Comes to Overcome Evil.
Philippians 2: 5-11

Why do we have evil in the world when we worship an all powerful God? Is evil necessary?  These are the questions that are in people’s minds. Human beings consist of questions that are mystifying and conditions that are perplexing, we sometimes ask ourselves ‘Why me God? You come out of the hospital or your home and walk through a world that is going on as if no evil is happening, (everything happens as if all is normal). But the fact is, all battle with the questions that human understanding cannot answer. The rate at which evil is increasing leaves us with a lot of questions about God’s omnipotence and God’s providence.

But the theme clearly states that: – ‘Jesus Comes to Overcome Evil

The other question that most people battle with is, the how part of it? From his letter to the Philippians Paul says, in eternity past, Jesus was God and he was equal with God. He needed not anything; he had all the glory and praise in heaven. With the Father and the Spirit he reigned over the universe. He did not consider his equality with God as something selfishly to be held on to. He did not think of himself, but thought of others, you and me. His mind was ‘I cannot keep my privileges for myself but I will gladly lay them aside and pay whatever price is necessary’. On a manger he entered into permanent union with humanity from which there could be no escape (Hebrews 2: 14-16),

1.   There is no human suffering without the suffering of God

The triune God is part of human suffering, and God through birth, the life and death of Jesus Christ becomes part of these realities of pain (Matthew 25: 31-46). Though some may say, How can we affirm the Lordship of God in the face of such horrendous evil? God’s love involves the lover participating in the suffering of the beloved. We see this in (Hebrews 2: 14-16 and John 3: 16) (him being the lover we being the beloved). Jurgen Moltmann, one of the greatest theologians once said, A God who cannot suffer is deficient, and not a perfect God. God suffers with humanity while also promising humanity a better future through the hope of resurrection. In God’s eternal purpose, it is God who is rejected in his Son for he is willing to suffer that we may win.

2.   In Christ, God enters into solidarity with the suffering

Brothers and sisters our pains (all evil) could not be resolved without a manger, life of Christ on earth and putting of God to death on a cross. God was humiliated, wounded and broken on a cross, suffered because he wanted to embrace us. Unless it is a revelation from God, humanity will not understand that God suffers with us, he is a God who is in pain, a God who is H.I.V positive, cancer diagnosed, Covid19 infected with the infected and the affected. The difficulty is that human thought can never produce such a truth, it comes only through revelation. The God we worship is the wounded Lord, having pain in himself because of what we are undergoing. Therefore such a God is able to give meaning and dignity to human suffering on account of the fact that he also is in pain and suffers.

Conclusion

From heaven to earth, from glory to shame, from master to servant, from life to death-even death on a cross he came to be condemned, we to be absolved; he entered the city to be put to die, we to live. He comes as no temporal deliverer, but as a divine king. He comes to a world in need of a redeemer who would abolish all forms of evil. God had the ultimate plan of sending his Son to the final battle over evil, therefore because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice we can be set free. Therefore, there is no human suffering without the suffering of God, for in Christ, God enters into solidarity with humanity.

May the God of grace who sent his son Jesus to overcome evil be with you all, amen and amen?


You might also like to make your own Palm Cross. Here are the instructions (suitable for age 10+):


Here below are the set Bible readings for Sunday March 29th 2020, in case you missed them, so that you can reflect on them with the help of the notes provided by Rev. Margaret James.

Occasion: 5th in Lent
Psalm 130
Old Testament: Ezekiel 37: 1-14
Letter: Romans 8: 6-11
New Testament: John 11: 1-45

PREACHING HOPE IN THE FACE OF DEATH.
All 3 of our readings today speak to us of the hope that God gives us in the face of tragedy.

Ezekiel 37 v 1-14. The people of Judah were feeling devastated, defeated and destroyed.  The city of Jerusalem had been destroyed; most of their soldiers had been killed and the people to whom Ezekiel was preaching were captives in Babylon.  He shared this amazing vision which God had given him, starting with a valley of dry bones, symbolising the situation of the Jewish people. Then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones and tell them they will come back to life (v4-6).  Then there is this amazing picture of bones coming together and all the soft tissues of their bodies growing onto the bones.  Then in verse 9 Ezekiel is told to call the winds to blow the breath of life into them and in verse 10 they stand up as a great army.  I think that many of us know the traditional song  “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, they all praise the name of the LORD”. This song comes direct from Ezekiel 37.

The message of Ezekiel 37 to us is that no matter how desperate we feel in Zimbabwe today, there is no situation which is beyond God’s power to see us through.  The Jewish people spent 70 years in Exile but they did eventually return to Jerusalem and the city was eventually rebuilt.

John 11 v 1-45. Here we have the story of the death of Lazarus.  He and his sisters Mary and Martha were close friends of Jesus and the sisters were extremely disappointed that Jesus had not come when he heard that Lazarus was sick.  (Verses 21 & 32)  Lazarus was dead and buried by the time Jesus came to them but God had allowed this tragedy because he had an astonishing plan.  Lazarus was brought back to life!!!

We face many challenges and difficulties today.  Drought!!  Unemployment!!  Hyper-inflation!!  And now we have this frightening Corona-virus forcing us to be locked in our homes for fear of infecting one another.  We don’t know why God had allowed these things to hit us all at the same time, but we do know that God will be with us, no matter what problems we will face in the coming weeks and months.

Romans 8 v 6-11. The whole of Romans chapter 8 describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.  These few verses describe the contrast between the lives of those whose minds are controlled by their natural desires (verses 5-8) and the lives of those whose minds are controlled by God’s Holy Spirit (verses 9-11).  Of course Paul is describing the 2 extremes.  Most of us allow our natural desires to dominate at some times and then we repent and ask the Holy Spirit to take control.  Unfortunately we so easily allow our natural desires to dominate time and again.  As we mature in the Christian life we should be allowing the Holy Spirit to have more and more control in our lives.  Of course this does not mean that we will not face problems,  but it does mean that we will be able to depend more and more on the strength, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  We have to surrender ourselves afresh to God time and time again but he is always willing to pick us up each time we fall and have to repent.

God does not promise us easy lives or lives free from problems, but he does promise that even when the tragedies happen God will empower and strengthen us.  (Romans 8 v 28 & 37-39)