The Passion of Jesus on Good Friday


The Book of Isaiah, written around 700 years before the coming of Jesus Christ, is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other book of the Hebrew Scriptures. Why? Because Isaiah 53 so explicitly refers to the Lord Jesus it doesn’t need much by way of explanation. Indeed it became so obvious that Isaiah was referring to Jesus death and resurrection that, as the Church separated from the Synagogue, Isaiah 53 was no longer read as part of the Jewish lectionary.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

This is the heart of Isaiah and takes us to the very core of why Jesus came.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

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The Time Has Come: Jesus and the Last Supper

Beat the clock. Around the clock. Against the clock. Clock in. Carry the day. Once in a blue moon. From now on. In the long run Come of age. A day in the sun. The crack of dawn. Year in, year out. A month of Sundays. Hour of need. Full of the joys of spring. Now or never. The moment of truth. Better late than never. Make my day. Here today and gone tomorrow. A blink of the eye. Days are numbered. What do they all have in common? Time. We say, long time no see. Killing time. Wasting time. Behind the times. On time. Just in time. As time goes by. The nick of time. Do time. Serve time. A whale of a time. Save time. Good time. Ahead of time. No time to lose. The big time. High time. Time is money. Times flies. Crunch time. Out of time. Time for a change. Times up. I counted over 100 expressions for time. They all refer to chronological or sequential time.

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Palm Sunday: Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven

According to the Mail on Sunday, “Thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors including an Olympic gold medallist have staged a sit-down protest in Oxford Street and Regent Street, blocking traffic in the heart of London’s shopping district to call for no new investment in fossil fuels. The climate change activists gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching into the centre of the city’s West End.” Climate Change is indeed a serious threat to the survival of planet earth. But only one person can save the world and that is Jesus.

Many people joined in the demonstration. Some were there on impulse. They were tourists or troublemakers. They joined in the demo. They took their photos. But they went home but soon forgot about it. Others were intentional. They planned to be there. They take climate change seriously and want to do something to help the most vulnerable nations. So there were the impulsive people and the intentional people at the demo yesterday.

It was the same on that first Palm Sunday. The crowds gathered when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Why arrive on a donkey? Because King Solomon had done the same. Because Jesus the King was coming in peace. What did the people shout? Hosanna. What did this mean? “Save now” But not everyone in the crowd was serious. Some were there on impulse. They saw the crowds and thought Jesus could save them money. Change the government, lower the taxes and give them food to eat. Others were intentional. They recognised Jesus as the King of heaven. What did they do? Why? They lay down their lives to serve and follow him not just for one day but forever.

The same is true today. Some are here on impulse – maybe you saw the cars or crowds coming in and you thought – I’ll go and find out. That’s OK. Some may have come because of an invitation or the breakfast or fresh coffee. That’s OK too. We hope you will come back next week. Others are intentional. You planned to be here. You wouldn’t miss being with Jesus and his family on Sunday for all the world. So which are you? Impulsive or intentional? It depends on whether Jesus is your King? How do you become a citizen of a country? Normally you have to be born in the country to be a citizen. It’s the same with the Kingdom of Heaven. We have to be born again.

In the United Kingdom we also welcome people born elsewhere in the world who wish to become citizens (but only if they are from certain countries). The fortunate ones are expected to learn English and find out about our history, culture and values. It’s the same with the Kingdom of God. That is why we run the Christianity Explored Course to help people learn about citizenship in God’s kingdom. Sometimes countries also require you to give up your old citizenship first if you want to become a citizen of their country. It’s the same in the kingdom of heaven. We have to give up our old citizenship. The Bible tells us this is why Jesus came as King. He came to rescue us.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13)

In the UK we also now ask new citizens to take part in a public ceremony and make a declaration to promise to abide by the laws of our country. It’s the same in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Baptism Service when we repudiate our old citizenship to take on our new citizenship. These are the questions asked and answers expected:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord? I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? I come to Christ.
Have you been baptised? We are having our next baptism ceremony on 7th June.
Some countries have a special day in the year when they celebrate their citizenship. In the United States it is the 4th July. In the Church, Easter is the special time of year when we remember Jesus death and resurrection and renew our faith in  Jesus our king. Next Sunday as part of our Easter service we will be inviting you to reaffirm your citizenship in the kingdom of God expressed in membership of this local church.  If you regard yourself as a citizen of heaven but have not completed the Electoral Roll form, please do.

How do we prove our citizenship when we travel abroad? We have to take our passport. It’s a document provided by the government to prove our identity as its citizens. Do you have your passport with you? Then I’d like to provide you with one.  There is one in your weekly news.

In preparation for next Sunday I invite you to answer these questions and repudiate your membership of any other kingdom…..

Now lets declare our commitment to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ – intentionally and not impulsively. I invite you to sign your passport and carry it where ever you go. Be ready to show it to anyone who asks you about your citizenship. Give your life in total surrender and loyal obedience to your King. Not just for Palm Sunday but every day. And remember the good news is that anyone can become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven if they too recognise Jesus as their Saviour, Lord and King.
Lets pray.

Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine

A Peace Vigil for Ukraine was held in Southampton’s Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, addressed by religious and civic community leaders including the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton;  The Right Reverend Debbie Sellin, Bishop of Southampton; Councillor Daniel Fitzhenry – Leader of Southampton City Council; Nikki Walters – Southampton City of Sanctuary; Dr Parvin Damani MBE – Muslim Council of Southampton; Chris Webb – a pastor at Above Bar Church and William Brook-Hart – City of Sanctuary and SWVG.

Watch videos of their messages here

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Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine Videos

Many people in Southampton joined together at the Peace Vigil for Ukraine in Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, which was addressed by religious and civic community leaders.

The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton welcomed people and said “it’s truly humbling to see how the people of Southampton, including those with Polish, Ukrainian and Russian connections, have come together to help the people of Ukraine.”

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Ash Wednesday: Jesus on Blessings and Cursing

Will you be making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Will you be fasting during the 40 days of Lent? Will you give up any little luxuries until Easter?  Will you mark Ash Wednesday with ash on your forehead as a visible sign of your repentance for sin?  Will you tell anyone?  In our series The Passion of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught us how to inoculate ourselves from spiritual abuse:

Be Holy: Cultivate a Simple Faith.
Be Hidden: Content with a Secret Faith.
Be Humble: Concentrate on a Serving Faith.

In today’s passage – Matthew 23:13-39, Jesus turns from the disciples and confronts those responsible for the abuse, directly and personally. He pronounces eight woes upon them.  It is poignant to remember this was Jesus last public sermon. It stands in stark contrast to his first public sermon in Nazareth and its elaboration in what became known as the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus describes true righteousness. In Matthew 23, He defines false righteousness.  Let us compare the two.

Lets distinguish the path to blessing from the path to cursing. The first contrast?

Jesus on Blessings and Curses from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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The Lord’s Prayer in Time of War

Our Father, who art in heaven,
slow to anger, and of great mercy, lover of all peoples of the earth,

Hallowed be thy Name.
Remind us that “all the nations are as nothing before thee,”
their governments but a shadow of passing age;

Thy kingdom come on earth.
Grant to thy children throughout the world,
and especially to the leaders of the nations,
the gift of prayerful thought and thoughtful prayer;
that following the example of our Lord,
we may discern what is right, and do it;

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Help us to protect and to provide for all who are hungry and homeless,
especially those who are deprived of food and shelter,
family and friends, by the tragedy of war;

Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us for neglecting to “seek peace and pursue it,”
and finding ourselves in each new crisis,
more ready to make war than to make peace.
“We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves”;

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Let us not seek revenge, but reconciliation;
Let us not delight in victory, but in justice;
Let us not give ourselves up to pride, but to prayer;

Lead us not into temptation.
Be present to all thy children ravaged by war:
Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed;
Be present to the loved ones of those who are killing
and to the loved ones of those who are being killed;

Deliver us from evil.
Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate,
and forbid us arrogance in victory;

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

~ written by Wendy Lyons

You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure

Gentle natured Gregory, passed into eternity, aged 69, forgotten and alone in a cell of the women’s jail in Dade County, Miami. Married four times with six children he had once been a celebrity and successful paediatrician. But Gregory succumbed to alcoholism and his license to practice medicine was suspended. Haunted by self-doubt and unable to live in the shadow of his father, he had died known as Gloria in a women’s jail, in high heels, a transvestite. When he was just 19, Gregory’s father blamed him for his mother’s death from cancer and did not speak to him for ten years before killing himself in precisely the same way Gregory’s grandfather had done before him. In 1953, Gregory’s father wrote a short story about a Spanish father who tried to be reconciled to his son who had run away from home to Madrid. Now remorseful, the father took out an advert in a national newspaper “Paco meet me at Hotel Montana noon Tuesday, all is forgiven, Papa.” Paco is a common name in Spain, and when the father goes to the square he finds eight hundred young men names Paco waiting for their fathers.

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Convivencia: Interfaith Coexistence

Convivencia simply means ‘coexistence’. It is an academic hypothesis, first proposed by the Spanish philologist Américo Castro, regarding the coexistence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities during the period of Spanish history from the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early eighth century until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

By extension the term can describe the contemporary religious and cultural interaction and exchange fostered by such proximity as a way to challenge the various forms of ethno-supremacism and exclusive religious nationalisms emerging in different parts of the world. 

Professor Haim Bresheeth has written a short introductory article on Convivencia published by Faith Initiative.

In June 2021, The Jewish Network for Palestine invited me to give a short presentation on Convivencia at their annual meeting. JNP have written a significant document on Convivencia to be launched in the Spring, in liaison with Muslim and Christian organisations.

Threats to the Arctic: An Interview with Professor Scott Elias

Threats to the Arctic discusses all the current threats to this fragile region, emphasizing the interconnections between many environmental impacts, as well as the teleconnections between events already emerging in the Arctic (ocean circulation changes, melting of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets) and other parts of the world. The book’s aim is to inform readers about the impending, sometimes irreversible changes coming to the Arctic. University students, environmental engineers, policymakers and sociologists with an interest in the role of the Arctic in global change will benefit from the book’s unique perspective. As this remote, inhospitable part of the world that few people will ever visit provides amazing insights, we can no longer have an ‘out of sight – out of mind’ approach to the environmental upheavals taking place in the Arctic. 

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