HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA!
We have all been watching the news recently I am sure, so you will have heard that God was seen a few days ago, walking around in Wales. "What are you doing in Wales?" asked one reporter, to which God replied, "Like so many others at the moment my friend, I'm working from home!"
It has stayed in my mind in a significant way, the fact that on our last permitted Sunday together in church, the reading was John Chapter 4, in which the woman of Samaria asks Jesus where one has to go in order to be able to worship. She assumed, as do so many of us still, that one has to be in sacred place in order to do so, like a shrine, a temple or indeed Wales! He replies (in verses 21-24) that it is not necessarily in such places that we can meet with the presence of the living God, but rather, when we worship "in spirit and in truth."
This idea of worshipping in spirit and in truth has fed and inspired me over the time we have been required to do without our cathedrals, chapels and churches as venues in which to worship. At a time when we have been told to be social distanced whilst at the same time desiring to be spiritually attuned, these words have been as a gift to us, preparing us for how you and I need to adapt to changing circumstances.
On the first ever Easter Day, Mary Magdelene goes to the tomb early to continue her grieving in closer proximity to where they had laid the body of the one she loved and was devoted to. And it was in a garden that the most sacred of moments was experienced, not in a temple, church or sacred site, but a garden. Why should this not be true for us too, the passage seems to say to us in these most exceptional of days? We do not need to be at St. Mary's today to experience the presence of the Risen Lord, marvellous as it would be to gather together to celebrate in prayer and praise. The Risen Lord is where we need Him to be, wherever we are ourselves.
It may be worth us thinking about the situations and circumstances in which the Risen Christ appeared to those who knew him 2,000 years ago, the better to understand how He may be seeking to come near to us in these challenging Covid days.
* InJohn Ch 20 v. 1-18Mary Magdelene was bereft and grieving, and into her place of inconsolable sorrow appeared the presence of the Risen Lord.
* InJohn Ch. 20 v. 19-23the disciples were absolutely socially isolating, they dare not appear in public at all, not because of the fear of contracting a virus, but rather they feared that they would be put to death for being followers of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. And into that place of trappedness and fear came the presence of the Risen Lord.
* InJohn Ch. 20 v. 24-29Thomas was full of doubt as to the reality of Jesus' resurrection, and into that place of doubt and desire for proof came the presence of the Risen Lord.
* InLuke Ch. 24 v. 13-35two of Jesus' disciples walking on the road to Emmaus in the early evening are asking questions about what had happened to Jesus in Jerusalem, about his crucifixion and the rumours of His resurrection, and into their questioning and searching for truth came the presence of the Risen Lord.
He comes to us where and when we need Him the most. And if He did so in the lives of those who followed Him 2,000 years ago, do not think for a moment that He will not also be with us when we most need Him- in the questions, fear, doubt, distress, challenges, restrictions which we are experiencing.
The presence of the Risen Lord was not confined to a religious site. He walked abroad, free from any restriction hitherto determined by the mortality of His human existence. He walks in gardens, near tombs, through doors, alongside us, on beaches (John 21) He walks wherever we ourselves find ourselves.
The Risen Christ is present with us now, in our homes, in our sitting rooms, in our hearts, in our souls. What it took for those 2,000 years ago to recognise that it was so was openness, belief, trust. So let it be with us. May we be open to a fresh experience of who Christ is; may we dare to believe in Him; may we learn how to trust in Him.
He is the One who promises never to let us down; who will never desert us; who will be with us all ways and always.
Alleluia Christ is Risen
He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
May we know, in the depths of our being, where we are aching and longing for deeper reassurance that it is so, that the Risen Christ is with us today and will be with us throughout the coming days, wherever life may take us.
With blessings and best wishes.
Risen Lord Jesus:
Thank you for entering into the quenching experience of death,
There to ignite us with a sense of new life.
Thank you for entering into moments when we feel powerless,
There to overcome all with the power of your love.
Thank you for entering into what we most fear and abhor,
There to offer us wellbeing and peace.
Thank you for entering into the truth of who we are,
There to fill us with the truth of who you are.
Thank you that in your resurrection appearances
You came to those who, like us,
Grieve question, doubt and fear,
There to shine with reassurance, healing and hope.
This Easter, which is for us like no other,
Be with us wherever we are,
Where we need to feel your presence most:
Walk alongside us through all our days,
Watch over us through all our nights,
Revive us and renew us with the energy of your
Abiding, loving, transforming presence.
All these things we ask,
In the power of your resurrection.
ALLELUIA, CHRIST IS RISEN.
HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA !
God the Father, by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead, strenghten you to walk with Him in His risen life and the Blessing of God Almighty, The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit, be with you now and remain with you, always.
This coming week, may I invite you to pray the presence of the Risen Lord into other's lives:
For those in hospital, unable to be visited by family or friends.
For doctors, nurses and carers, especially those who are exhausted and concerned about their own health and wellbeing.
For families and couples who are self isolating, especially for those who are subject to domestic violence or sexual abuse.
For those concerned about their financial situation and their employment status.
For young people who have been preparing for public examinations, concerned about their futures.
For all those with difficult moral and ethical decisions to take in the coming days.
Each day, after walking the dogs in the early morning, I pop into church where I stand at the altar and say the "Pandemic Prayer" and the Lord's Prayer. I feel that you are very much with me at those times. Do please join me each day in saying these prayers. With blessings and best wishes. Jeff.