The Nazareth Trust

Healing in the name of Jesus since 1861
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REFLECTION ON PURITY

Matthew 5:8 – ‘Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.’

At the Last Supper, when Jesus started washing the feet of his disciples, Peter objected to have his feet washed by his master. In the historical context of the time, it was unthinkable to think the master would wash the feet of his follower. Usually performed by slaves who would wash the feet of the guests, it was an act showing profound humility and hospitality, deeply embedded in their culture.

Let us look closer to what happened in this encounter. Jesus not only washed their feet, which was a common custom before the meals, but, he performed a ritual rich in meaning. By this humble gesture he not only exemplified servitude and love but also spiritual cleansing.

He responded to the apostle Peter’s objection with: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

Feet symbolize a journey, they may carry a mark of the sinful journey, places we have been to, habits we have picked up, decisions we have made. By letting God wash us and purify us, we enter into communion with Him. Because we receive forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we  are transformed more into His Image, and our lives become more beautiful as we are conformed to the life of our crucified Lord.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but 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. Galatians 2:20

However, the story doesn’t end here: The feet of the apostles that have been washed by their loving Saviour will soon be the feet spreading the good news of His Resurrection.

Let us seek in this Easter season to grow in purity and exchange our rebellious hearts for a heart that desires to honour God.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, You see all that is within me, all that is reflected in my thoughts, my words and my deeds. Search me, O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me.

I want the hidden places within me – the meditations of my heart – to be pure. Help me to look to you and change me  more and more in your image so that I can become pure in thought, word and deed.

Psalm 19:14  ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer’.

 

 

 

 

2024 Easter Message from the Nazareth Trust

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  (1 Peter 1:3)

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

Easter was celebrated in Nazareth last weekend by Christians who follow the Western Church calendar amidst the pain and trauma of the ongoing war in Gaza and in the north of the country. Although the celebrations were subdued in Nazareth, Holy Week and Easter provided an opportunity to focus more on spirituality, expressing the pain of the current situation but also the hope of resurrection, in a profound way.

Aiming to enhance unity and strengthen faith, The Nazareth Trust hosted two special services during Lent and Holy Week. The first was a special prayer service of hymns and meditations on the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, held in the Bernath Auditorium on the evening of 18th March. Moving chants and songs were performed by the Trust’s choir and a large choir from the town of Kafr Yasif, accompanied by prayers led by various church leaders and their representatives of all Church traditions in Nazareth and the surrounding areas. The audience were uplifted by the spirit of unity in Christ that prevails during pain and anguish in the Holy Land.

The Trust also organised a service during Holy Week where the Nazareth Trust Choir sang about the suffering and glory of Christ, while Bishop Yousef Matta shared reflections on the personal implications of journeying with Christ through His passion, death, and resurrection. This service was held in the Hospital Chapel on the 27 March and was well attended and appreciated by staff of the Nazareth Trust.

Like the Apostle Peter, who made the very painful journey with Jesus through His suffering, death and burial, to His glorious resurrection, we too give thanks and praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!

This journey between passion and resurrection has always accompanied the Trust since its inception and through the years, such as frequent changes in the geopolitical environment, wars, and pandemics. As we have faced those with faith and hope, we continue to develop new services, upgrade and expand our facilities, and strengthen our relationships with our staff, local and international community, and supporters.

We thank you for your prayers and support for the Nazareth Trust at this challenging time and continue to pray for the war to end and for the Nazareth Village and SERVE Nazareth Programme to be resurrected to new life soon! In closing, we echo the words of St. Paul where he says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Waseem Dibbini, CPA, MBA

Acting CEO of the Nazareth Trust

 

 

 

Sixth week of Lent: Reflection on Mercy

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 

God’s mercy stems from His steadfast love (‘chesed’in Hebrew) for His people. Knowing there was nothing we could do to earn our way into His presence, God revealed His love and mercy towards us by giving us His only Son who suffered and died for our salvation. This is the focus of our meditation and celebration during Holy Week and Easter!

Defeating death, Jesus opened up access to God for us. Through prayer, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit living in us, each day brings fresh expressions of mercy. Every morning, God is faithful, even though every day, we fall short. Mercy is God’s gift to the repentant heart.

God’s mercy is closely related to forgiveness and what we do in response to God’s mercy is all-important. A repentant heart that loves God will surely be evident by the lives we live and sends an important message to the people in our lives.

God has chosen to be merciful to His people. Mercy is an expression of who He is, and His love for us. The benefits of God’s mercy include peace, love, and joy. None of this comes naturally to us without the love of God in our hearts.

When we are merciful to others, it brings joy to their hearts and ours. When we submit to His merciful ways, we choose to acknowledge peace. Apart from Christ this is impossible.

Our natural tendency is to act in sinful, selfish ways; it is only with a transformed heart that we can truly be merciful toward someone else.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”  Matthew 5:7

Mercy allows us to experience love, forgiveness, compassion, peace, and joy, whether we deserve it or not. Can we strive to see the other side of someone’s anger, offer forgiveness when we have been clearly wronged or offer love and encouragement to those lost and struggling in this world?

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your mercy, love and compassion which is new every morning and is endless. Forgive me for my many sins and help me to receive from you a heart of forgiveness, understanding and compassion to others. Help me not to be bitter or angry but to receive and give mercy. I am so grateful for your promise of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Will you daily create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Amen

 

 

Fifth Week of Lent: Reflection on Meekness

Matthew 5:5

“Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”

The Greek word used here is translated as meek – a word we perhaps don’t use much anymore but which is a combination of gentle and humble. It is the same word used to describe Jesus in Matthew 11:29 where he describes himself as “meek and lowly of heart”, so we know that this characteristic is not only something good, but something godly. Something which Jesus modelled for us in his life here on earth.

So, what does it mean to be meek? Often, we might see this quality as something negative, leading to someone who is quiet, can’t defend themselves, who almost hides away from people in a shy, cringing way. In a world which values power and strength we might find it hard to value such a quiet virtue. It seems to oppose our ideas of self-confidence and assertiveness, and maybe even our identity or sense of self.

Yet how can this idea be correct if Jesus Himself was meek? If we consider that Jesus was meek, then our understanding of this word needs to be challenged. Of all people Jesus never lost a sense of his identity or self-confidence. He is God!! Yet He also calls us to be meek, gentle and humble, and expects us to do this without losing a sense of who we are or our value. How can we do this? Gentleness is a quality which is not always present in this fast-paced world. It requires thought and understanding, it is not always an instinctive reaction. Humility also requires us to stay openhearted to others, not judging them or thinking of ourselves as better than them but recognising all as people who are loved by God.

So, when we can keep that humility and openness of heart towards others, when we can see the needs of others and treat them with gentleness, then we are somewhere along the path to meekness. And what is the result of this meekness? They are already blessed and will inherit the earth. If we think of how people gain territory in the world, this is most often through fighting and war. States increase and take territory through violence and with a belief in their own importance above others. Yet here we see something completely different. That acquiring the whole earth is something that is given as an inheritance, not taken by force, and which is inherited by means of gentleness and humility. This could hardly be more opposite to the ways of the world.

The world around us teaches us very negative lessons, that might is right, that power is everything, that riches give us everything we can desire. Yet Jesus’s words tell us something different. That God gives. That we receive. That His ways are higher and so beyond our own. It is good to step back and remind ourselves of God’s principles whenever we look at the world around us. To recognise that in meekness we are already blessed. We cannot help but be affected by our environment, but we need to bring our prayers to God for His ways and His attitude as we pass through the storms of life.

Prayer

Lord, as we live in this world which values force and power and ego and pride, we ask that you guard our hearts. That you help us to live according to your values and your example of meekness, of gentleness and humility. Remind us Lord of how your heart is meek and lowly and by Your grace let us reflect You in our attitudes to all those around us. Amen.

Fourth Week of Lent: Reflection on Mourning

As we continue our Lent reflections on the Christian attitude on our journey to Holy Week and Easter, we are confronted with the uncomfortable truth of our human frailty and sin. We can all identify with what St Paul writes when he says, I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil I do not want to do… (Romans 7:19). This leads him to holy sorrow as he cries out, “What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death…?” (v 24).

Jesus proclaimed a blessing on those who like Paul mourn about their state of spiritual poverty before God’s holy commandments. He said to his disciples, “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5: 4). The comfort we receive is from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is called the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1: 3).

The Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter who comes alongside those who are mourning and grieving to comfort and strengthen them in their time of trouble. There are currently millions of people in Israel, Gaza and many other regions of the world who are mourning the loss of loved ones and are afflicted by anxiety, trauma, and pain. We pray that they will encounter the love and comfort of the Holy Spirit in their time of mourning and that we will be able to comfort those we know who are grieving with the same comfort that we have received from the God of comfort and grace.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we mourn for the frailty and weakness in our lives that keeps us trapped in sinful habits and thinking, and give thanks that Jesus rescues us from our sinful nature. We thank you that you promise to bless those who mourn with the comfort that you alone can provide through our Lord Jesus Christ and pray that your Holy Spirit will teach us and lead us in the path of true freedom.

We also pray for all those mourning the loss of loved ones at this time and ask you to comfort and sustain them by your Holy Spirit and grant them peace. We ask this in the name of the God of all comfort and grace, Amen!

Third Week of Lent: Reflection on Contrition

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6

Lent is a time of fasting and prayer, a time to remember and prepare our hearts for the journey of Easter through suffering to resurrection. It is interesting to be in a time of fasting and also focussing on this verse of the Sermon on the Mount. If we fast we are likely to experience physical hunger and thirst – an experience that not only impacts the way we feel, but which gives rise to a desire and drives us towards action. I remember a few years ago when one of the first symptoms I experienced from the corona virus was one of thirst. I saw a colleague drinking a bottle of water and had an intense desire to have that water for myself, imagining how that cool water would feel in my dry throat. Of course, I followed this feeling with action and went to get myself something to drink quickly!

This verse describes a hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be morally correct and aligned with God’s will. In this challenging time, we might be thinking that the world in general or other people need this more than we do. Or perhaps our desire for righteousness has moved into more of a desire for our own will to be done. This verse speaks of an intense desire, a desire for righteousness, that is personal and leads us to action. A desire to become something better, to act in order to be filled in a way that only God can supply.

We all make mistakes. We all get frustrated with ourselves at times, whether we like to admit it or not. We might ask ourselves why we react the way we do, why we said what we said, why our thoughts are not always what we want, why our actions so often disappoint us. It is always easier to criticise those around us, but this verse speaks to an inner attitude, of seeking to set myself right first, to pursue righteousness, humbly acknowledging that I am not there yet and taking the action needed to change that.

So how can we move forward? Our appetites for food and water are essential, we all need these things in order to live. To hunger and thirst for righteousness reflects a similarly fundamental need in our spiritual lives, and in this passage, we learn that if we have this intense desire, God is willing and able to fill us. As we look at a hurting world, and as we look at ourselves, we can become overwhelmed with our desire for something better. Let us act by bringing ourselves to the Lord, seeking His righteousness, seeking His intervention, both in us and through us to the world. He promises that we will be filled. As we fast this season, let each feeling of hunger or thirst call us to action, taking us into the presence of the One who can fulfil all our needs and give us His righteousness.

Second Week of Lent: Reflection on Repentance

The Healing Journey of Repentance

As we start our second week of Lent, we focus on a key aspect of spiritual growth: repentance. Through repentance, we are called to turn away from sin and return to God, embarking on a journey of transformation and renewal.

The call to repentance echoes loudly and clearly throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Hebrew scriptures, the word “repent” often translates to “turn” or “return”. It embodies the idea of turning away from evil and embracing the good: “Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (Ezekiel 14:6).

In the New Testament, the Greek term for repentance, metanoia, carries a double meaning: a change of mind and remorse. In fact, Jesus inaugurated His ministry with the call to repentance: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

It’s not enough to acknowledge our sins. True repentance also involves demonstrating genuine remorse and committing to a new direction. It requires brokenness, honesty, and willingness to change.

During our busy lives, it’s easy to get stuck in our usual routines and overlook the areas in need of transformation within ourselves. Lent grants us a much-needed pause, a chance to slow down, reflect and look inward. Just as Jesus called His disciples to follow Him on the path of repentance and belief, we are also invited to join this journey.

As we navigate through Lent, we are called to reflect on the deep implications of repentance. We are called to turn away from sin and embrace God’s Kingdom values. How can we recognise where we have gone off track and make things right with God and others? How can we let go of old habits that hold us back from living fully in God’s grace? Let us embrace repentance as a powerful tool for growth and renewal, allowing it to guide us towards a deeper alignment with God’s will.

Heavenly Father,
As we repent and seek your forgiveness, let us also extend grace and mercy to others. Give us the strength to turn away from our sins and make amends. Fill us with your love and compassion so that we can reflect your light in a world that desperately needs your healing touch.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.