Whatever your beliefs, whatever your doubts, here is an opportunity for you to learn what the Christian faith means to you. This year’s Manse Lent Study will use as its source the Church of Scotland’s new Exploring Faith resource. If you’re thinking about joining the Church, if you think you might like the opportunity to discuss what you find easy and what you find hard about belief, if you simply want to attend a ‘refresher course’ on Christianity, then this is the course for you! And if you know of people who might be interested, feel free to invite them along to this very informal meeting and discussion, with the Minister at the Manse (20 Braidburn Crescent, Edinburgh EH10 6EN, 0131 447 1617) Come to as many of the evenings as you are able, there are six in total. Each evening will last around an hour and a half, and will start at 7.30pm (with tea and coffee available from 7pm). The last evening, (16th March) will be on the theme: Death and Resurrection? The basic material for this event will be printed at the back of the order of service each week , and is available below:
16th March Death and Resurrection
Luke 23:44-49; 24-1-11
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
48 And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they went in they did not find the body.
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel;
5 and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
7 that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”
8 And they remembered his words,
9 and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
10 Now it was Mary Mag’dalene and Jo-an’na and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles;
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
There are historical reasons for the death of Jesus. He was a threat to the rule of the Roman Empire in Palestine, disturbing the peace. He was dangerous to the Jewish authorities, by appealing to the people to radical discipleship, and subverting Temple practices, and reinterpreting the Bible. When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the Passover, the city was overflowing with pilgrims and the atmosphere was tense. Powerful people feared that if Jesus continued, their status would be threatened. And so He was publicly executed on a cross between two criminals.
Why did God allow Jesus to die? Jesus’ death is the means by which God’s forgiveness and grace are offered to the world as gift. God had tried to reach the world in other ways; these had failed. The costly gift of Jesus reflects the costliness of the sin in the world and how it was to be addressed. Jesus’ death is the means by which our sins are forgiven and death is overcome. Jesus brings reconciliation, and a new beginning.
Resurrection and Easter are at the heart of Christianity. No description of what and how are given in the resurrection story. All we see is the effect on Jesus’ followers. It tells us God’s love is stronger than death. We are promised that our own lives will not end with death. The Christian faith looks forward. The inspiration resurrection gives us is to persevere in believing and acting, and making things better. This promise of faith leads us to a process that has begun, and continues, through us, and through our faithful action.
- Why do you think Jesus died?
- Why do you think Jesus rose from the dead?
- Christianity teaches that every morning should be an Easter morning. What do you think this might mean?
How does the Christian belief that love is stronger than death affect your idea of life?
(Adapted from Learn: Exploring Faith – the Church of Scotland study booklet, Saint Andrew Press 2015)