Week 5: Lent reflections – Sunday 18 March
'Bring them all in'
Something to read: John 12:20-33
Something to consider
The question that Andrew and Philip bring to Jesus triggers quite a response.
Perhaps Philip himself had recognised the significance of both the question and the questioners, and that is why he went to Andrew first, not wanting to bring this question to Jesus by himself.
Such was the message and example of Jesus that those outside Judaism, even the Greeks, were being drawn to him. And even to the place of Jewish worship. The Pharisees' fears are being realised - everyone is choosing to follow him. It is in this moment that Jesus recognises the beginning of his journey to the cross.
Perhaps not as they imagined, but the Greeks would have their question answered, they would see Jesus, as all people would, high and lifted up.
In this final full week of Lent, when we begin to lift up our heads from the dust of the wilderness towards the events of Holy Week, we encounter another story of radical inclusion on the Count Your Blessings Journey.
Since 2013, militant Islamist group Boko Haram have used bombings, assassinations and abductions to instil terror and fear in northeast Nigeria. Many have fled from the violence and up to 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes.
Ayuba was one of those who fled before many others and he managed to find a property to live in. As he anticipated, Boko Haram devastated his village and burned many properties. Many fled the chaos and arrived where Ayuba was living with nothing.
Having the foresight to leave earlier and having a place of safety for himself sorted, he began sheltering those who fled from his village after him. He has 58 people in his house. Previously the number was 136. Christian Aid has provided Ayuba and the other residents with food for seven months.
Ayuba says he felt obligated to help those who had fled, even if meant sacrificing a potential income from rent money.
This is an example of radical inclusion and hospitality. A reminder that even in the most challenging of circumstances there is encouragement to be found.
Perhaps for the same reasons the voice from heaven could not remain silent but spoke as much to strengthen and encourage Andrew, Philip and all those who could hear that even in the most difficult of things God is present.
They have no one else to help them but me’
Something to do
Take part in the Count Your Blessings Photo challenge.
Something to pray
Thank you, heavenly Father,
that even in the most challenging of times
a voice of strengthening encouragement
speaks to calm the most troubled of souls.
Give us ears to hear.