Simon the Cyrene
So last night I went on a little rabbit hunt. This meditation is the result of that hunt. If you are not careful sometimes when you are reading the Bible you can get lost chasing cross references.
Simon was a convert to Judaism, from the country of Cyrene, which is in northern Africa. He occupies exactly one sentence in each of the three synoptic gospels and John ignores him completely. Mark refers to him as the father of Alexander and Rufus which is kind of weird because this is the only instance in the Bible of someone being identified in that way. Usually is it John, son of so-and-so or Spencer, son of Dale. Paul mentions Rufus in Romans 16:13. Somewhere along the way Simon would have become a Christian and evidently had quite the influence on his family as his son, Rufus, was quite prominent in the church at Antioch years later. Simon was in Jerusalem at this time to participate in the Passover. He was unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the right time. As the procession with Jesus moved along the Via Dolarossa or Way of Sorrows that day, Jesus had fallen and was unable to carry the cross any further. The Roman soldier, knowing they had to get this crucifixion done, compelled into service Simon of Cyrene to bear His cross away. Compel means to force. And Simon would have protested not wanting to be involved in any of this. The Cross at the time was considered a humiliation, because Jesus had been carrying it to this point and it would have been covered with his blood. A Jew would have been repulsed by this, as bodily fluids were considered unclean. His protests would have been useless though, as the Roman soldiers were able to commandeer anyone to their service for a short time.
The picture I have in my mind of this has Simon picking up the cross and following Jesus as they made their way to the place of the skull. There is no more mention made of Simon after this so we have to kind of fill in the blanks.
To be honest with you I never really gave Simon much thought beyond what I have just said. But if you read it in the context of Isaiah 65:1, “I went to those who were not looking for me; I was found by those that sought me not.” Simon wasn't looking for anything that day. He had not even bought the lamb he would offer at the temple for Passover. And right here in his horrible luck he is presented with the opportunity to offer the Passover Lamb for sacrifice that would redeem the world. While the Romans compelled him to carry the cross remember that compel has another definition and that is “to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc.” In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” I would offer that the first person who is actually able to do that in a literal way for Christ is Simon. While the cross that Simon carried that day belonged to Jesus, it represented the sins of Simon and you and me and the rest of the world.
Now bearing our cross doesn’t simply mean being patient or showing fortitude under trial, or accepting the burden of responsibilities, there was only ever one reason why a person bore a cross, and that was because they were going to their crucifixion.
The question is how do we bear our cross after the manner of Simon? The answer is by accepting in the providence of God, those circumstances that come upon us that result in the crucifixion of the flesh. Those times in life when we’d rather not perform a certain task, when we feel the pain of the sacrifice that’s involved, when the matter involved requires a crucifixion of our own natural inclinations. That’s when we feel what it’s like to take up our cross and follow him, and that is the commitment that Simon made, the vow that we all spoke on our solemn, joyful day when we accepted Jesus Christ. On that day we vowed that we would follow the Lord even to death.
That’s the lesson we have to learn, or at least one of the lessons from the life of Simon. We’ve got to think of those things that we might be able to do in service, but might not come easily to us. There is no special merit in offering to God those things that we are already good at or capable of. What about something that we’re not suited for? Something we’re not naturally strong at? It may be in deciding that you’ll speak to someone about the gospel even though you feel naturally shy. It may be that you decide to throw open your house in hospitality even though you feel naturally private. It may be that you decide to accept new responsibility in the life of the church even though you feel inadequate and scared to do so. Whatever it will be, it will be something where we’ll feel the pain and perhaps the shame the experience might bring upon us, and I think this is the lesson of Simon of Cyrene, that only when we have shouldered our cross and borne it aloft and felt its burden and looked up and seen Christ ahead. Then we will know the cross of Christ and that power to transform us and empower us and to lift us up, because at last we’ve suffered with him and followed him. -Matt Bishop, Pastor
April Mission Project
The Samburu Friends Mission in Kenya, Africa will be our project for April. Sammy Letoole, the first Samburu Friend trained at Friends Theological College, is now the Mission Director. The Mission focuses on four main objectives: evangelism, health services, education and peace. God is doing exciting things in Samburu! Founded in 1995, Samburu Friends Mission is now a fully “indigenous” church, for their community. Worship is at the center of all activities. One Sunday each month, the young adults lead the worship. Samburu Mission has two full meetings and two new church plants. Loltulelei Friends School has won national competitions with its traditional songs and dances. Even though Losuk in the Samburu Mission does not have a physical church, Sunday attendance still ranges from 50 to 80. Samburu Friends have a vision of an Empowerment Center to offer much-needed goods and services to the community while also serving as a vocational training center and providing income for the mission. Church members are doing the planning of this project. They started out by identifying goods and services that are needed by the community and that have a strong chance of being profitable.
Currently, people travel about an hour by motorcycle, at a cost of $10 round trip. Motorcycles are the most common form of public transportation. Business services like photocopying, typing and email are in very high demand, and computer classes are greatly needed. Sewing of school uniforms and dresses is a profitable business and a desirable vocational skill. Friends are called to impact their community as well as generate income to sustain the mission work. The gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives in Samburu. Please be generous in your giving and remember the Samburu Friends Mission in your prayers.
Capital Improvement Fund
A new line item for the church budget was approved at the April Monthly Meeting. Several improvements such as floor coverings, plaster, painting and others are necessary for our church building. Several thousand dollars are needed for these repairs and upgrades. Stewardship and Trustees would gratefully accept any donations to the Capital Improvement Fund in order to complete these recommended improvements. Any checks should be made out to the church with “Capital Improvement Fund” on the memo line.
Workdays will be held at Quaker Heights on April 16th and at Mesquakie Friends Church on April 30th. As we were challenged at our annual banquet, let’s use these opportunities to disciple young people. Bring them and work alongside them! Lunch will be provided each day. Mesquakie has potluck on Saturday nights, so bring some food and stay for their worship! Lots of important work to be done!! Tom Palmer
Liberty USFW-Tour of Binford House
Liberty USFW will tour the Binford House in Marshalltown on Thursday, April 21st at 6:30 pm. Anyone interested is welcome to join the ladies
(& some spouses) for the tour and meal. Cost is $15 per person. The meal will be pork medallions, fingerling potatoes, and cheesecake. The Binford House is located at 110 2nd Ave N. Reservations are due to Rosalee Patten by Sunday, April 17.
Our good friend, John Lane, age 88, passed away on March 23rd. Visitation and the service for John was held at BLFC on March 28 & 29. Burial was at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa. He is survived by his wife, Gladys, daughter, Linda and son, Steven, several grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews and close friends.
Library Ledge – Fiction
Lots of new fiction books! Two books by Robert Wise: Wired & Tagged – from the Tribulation Survival Series & The Secret Code by Robert Wise and Paul Meier. Lynn Austin: Eve’s Daughters and Hidden Places. Wanda E Brunstetter: A Cousin’s Promise, A Cousin’s Prayer, A Cousin’s Challenge.
Also In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer, The Long Awaited Child by Tracie Peterson, Butterfly Kisses & Bittersweet Tears – Stories of Fathers and Daughters by Bob Carlisle, The Tender Years by Janette Oke, The Messenger by T. Davis Bunn, Monday Morning Faith by Lori Copeland, A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston, When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon. Enjoy your reading!
FUM Chain of Prayer
Bangor Liberty Friends will be participating in the
FUM Chain of Prayer for 24 hours on Friday, April 29th starting at 6:00 pm and going to 6:00 pm on Saturday, April 30th. A sign-up sheet will be available in the church narthex starting on Sunday, April 10th for you to pick your prayer time slot(s). Prayer guides and more information will be available soon.
Quaker Men International
The USFWI/QMI 2016 Triennial Conference will be held at the Marriott Hotel, 1200 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Thursday, July 7th thru Sunday, July 10. Conference registration is $375 per person prior to May 14th. Registration includes all meals. The hotel is $105 per night. Daily registration is also available. You may register online at www.usfwi.org and also see the full conference schedule, with guest speakers, prayer meetings, Bible studies, tours, and mission workshops.
Remember In Prayer
John Lane’s Family after his death
Mac & Berny McDonald, Co-Directors
of Mesquakie Friends Church at Tama, IA as they
build relationships throughout the community; for
physical & spiritual strength, energy & endurance;
for God’s guidance & direction; for protection
against spiritual warfare, for financial support.
HOC MEAL REPORT
On March 31, 20 from BLFC served creamed chicken gravy on biscuits, green beans, cheddar cheese, mixed fruit cup, cherry or blueberry filling on individual cheese cakes or brownies, or angel food cake with strawberries & whipped topping, milk, iced tea and coffee to 55 guests.
Thanks to: Butlers, Bradleys, Matneys, B. Nichols, Daniels, Diane R. & other anonymous folks who donated food or funds; Betty, Vi, Darla, Ann, Chuck, John, Joe & Kay who helped in the kitchen. Our next meal night is Thursday, April 28.
Over 100 items were collected for the House of Compassion supply closet last month during our Guys vs. Gals contest. While HOC is the true winner, the Gals team earned more points so the Guys will be cleaning up at April the potluck meal. Thanks to all who donated. Each item will be appreciated by those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Mesquakie Friends Church Visit
Eighteen families or individuals were involved in providing the meal at Mesquakie Friends Church on March 31st. Twelve were able to help with the meal and the lesson time. The kids enjoyed the spaghetti casseroles and especially the cookies. Bars with frosting seemed to be the favorite. Around 40 kids from high school down to preschool came that night. All were full of energy and obviously excited to be there. I saw many hugs and high fives given to Mac and Berny. After outside play and supper it was music and worship time. The music was VBS type songs with actions to help wear them out before class. The Bible lesson was about Jesus ascending into the clouds. All ages painted pictures with different types of mediums. Some very creative kids.
Don’t look back.
Keep looking ahead….
And, above all, listen to God.
Have faith in God.
Let Him guide you.