You will hear two epiphanies today—one read aloud from Scripture, and one from someone in your group OR the one you can read aloud from Malcom Muggeridge, supplied below.
*Also, for those who may have missed it, Kim distributed small nails two weeks ago as a reminder to be attentive to opportunities to “suffer with” others in our daily lives—in other words, to practice compassion with those we encounter. This is the second of three practices we invite you to try during Lent this year, inspired by Cap’s core values. The first one was related to practicing ‘presence’.
Lenten Practice Check-In: What has it been like to practice presence or compassion during Lent so far?
Share a consolation and desolation from the past week.
Background to today’s Scripture:
As we continue to journey towards Good Friday and Easter, consider this scene between Jesus and the two criminals hanging on crosses beside Him. Take your place in this familiar scene and listen as a particular person in the story—one of the criminals, one of the crowd standing by, or a soldier.
Read aloud several times Luke 23:32-43
Read aloud for a final time what Jesus says in verse 34 and in verse 43 and reflect on how Jesus reveals the love of the Father in these words and actions.
Someone from your group can share their epiphany story, or read aloud the story from “Finding Faith: Life-changing Encounters with Christ”
“No Other Hope”
Malcolm Muggeridge was a well-known journalist and television commentator in England. During his long career he served as the editor of the English humor magazine Punch and wrote frequently for Esquire and many other publications. Later in life, he was the presenter for a number of documentary films.
Muggeridge was raised by adamantly agnostic parents. His father was a socialist who believed that through a redistribution of society’s wealth a utopian paradise could be established on earth- a materialistic paradise that had no place for God.
When he was growing up, Muggeridge viewed Jesus as a fellow socialist, a radical who had thrown the money changers out of the temple, who had been killed by the ruling powers and hated by the elite. This version of Jesus had nothing to do with anything supernatural.
After attending Cambridge University and getting married, Muggeridge and his wife moved to Cairo, where he had a teaching post. It was in Egypt that he began his career as a journalist, working as a foreign correspondent.
Continuing in his father’s intellectual tradition, Muggeridge believed in human perfectibility and the possibility of an earthly utopia. When the Russian revolution took place, Muggeridge welcomed it as a wonderful moment in history.
This idealism was severely tested when Muggeridge actually witnessed life in postrevolutionary Russia. He and his wife lived in the Soviet Union in the fall and winter of 1932-33, when he worked as a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian and was one of the first journalists to report on the Ukrainian famine.
Walking the streets of Moscow, Muggeridge’s faith in an earthly utopia was shaken. Stalin’s purges taught him a lesson: “What I had failed to notice was that when the meek pushed out the mighty and took their places, they were then the mighty. Of course; they behaved as such and soon became fit to be put down themselves.”
It was some years later, when he was in Israel filming a documentary for the BBC, that Muggeridge reconsidered his understanding of Jesus. Although he felt that most of the shrines and relics had little credibility, Muggeridge found himself seized by a “mystical certainty about who Jesus was.” He became convinced that there really had been a man, Jesus, who was also God.
The cross came to have special significance for Muggeridge: “The cross for the first time revealed God in terms of weakness and lowliness, even, humanly speaking, of absurdity… Standing before the cross, God’s purpose for us is made blindingly clear, to love Him, to love our neighbor.” Contrasting his faith with all his former pursuits, Muggeridge said, “I have found on this earth no other truth than that of the cross, no other hope than that of the resurrection.”
In his later years, Muggeridge became a passionate critic of the media he had worked in for so many years (described in his autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time). He believed that the media was, at least partly, responsible for a serious erosion of the awareness of God.
In an interview late in his life, Muggeridge commented: “The absolutely most essential thing for human beings is to have an awareness of their Maker, God, and to see their own lives in time in relation to God and in relation to eternity…The only possible way that men and women can be free is through God and through Jesus, too, because Jesus provided the possibility of a relationship in human terms with God.”