For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 11:23-30
Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Please take time to reflect on the image below.
Meditations from the preachers
By Vanda Chittenden
Sometimes the burdens of life feel like too much to carry. Even during non-pandemic times, juggling the many responsibilities that we each have, combined with a desire to be helpful to our family, friends, and neighbours can leave us navigating task lists longer than there are hours in the day.
Now, of course, we have the additional burdens of a year-long pandemic. Perhaps you have struggled to carry the weight of unemployment, the illness or death of loved ones due to COVID, or the loneliness of social isolation. Perhaps you are longing for physical touch… or even just to see the unmasked smiles of strangers as you pass in the grocery store. Perhaps you are struggling under the weight of racism or the exhaustion of pandemic parenting. Perhaps you are exhausted. You have never experienced the “pandemic pause” because your labour has been required to help save lives or provide food for people.
The reality is that each of us has been burdened in one way or another throughout this pandemic. But, likely, we have not carried the same exact burdens as our neighbours… or our strangers. When we encounter people, whose burdens are different than our own, let us look upon them with compassion… as if we were looking upon Jesus as he fell for the third time.
help us to remember that each person we encounter
may be carrying weighty burdens of which we are not aware.
Please move our hearts to compassion
so that we will relieve what burdens we can.
Jesus falls for a third time. This last fall he can barely move. His body shudders at each moment. Agony shoots throughout his limbs. The soldiers know he cannot carry the cross any more, and they drag him forward. This man who gave life everywhere – who healed the blind, cured the sick, and set free the oppressed…slowly his life is being drained by the cross…slowly he is dying. This depth of brokenness reveals the completeness of the love of Jesus Christ. He is this broken, this bruised, this devastated so that we might be made whole and healed. His love compels his actions, but the weights of our sin drag him down. As you reflect on this image offer thanks to Jesus for his love, and confess your own sin and brokenness that brought Jesus there…
Lord Jesus Christ, God of endless chances,
teach us the ways of your mercy,
of your patience.
Help us to extend the grace you show us
to all we encounter.
We pray this through Christ, our Lord.