Thought for the Month (May 2011)
Depending on distribution arrangements you will probably be reading this on Easter weekend or shortly thereafter. So first of all: Happy Easter, everyone!
We are moving now into the period of the church year when we remember particularly the appearances of the risen Christ to his disciples and others. He came to all sorts of different places (a garden, a locked room, along a road, on the lake shore and so on) and to different people, e.g., a distraught woman, a group of frightened men, a doubter, two weary and puzzled travellers, fishermen at work and a big crowd of folk we cannot identify individually. He came to fulfil his promise to his disciples that he would rise from the dead and that they would see him again after his crucifixion, thus proving to them that the Son of God has power over life and death and that he has broken the stranglehold of sin. And he made a further promise which Matthew records in the final verse of his gospel: "I will be with you always to the end of time".
Obviously we cannot see Jesus as the disciples did when he was with them between his resurrection and ascension but, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is nonetheless a real presence in our lives today. We may be alone in a garden, walking along a road or, thanks to technological developments, working at a computer, driving a car, sitting in a plane 36,000ft up in the air or travelling in a train in a tunnel under a mountain or the sea; we may be sad, happy, stressed, relaxed, perplexed, confident, immersed in our own affairs or actively seeking God. There is nowhere and there are no circumstances where we cannot reach out to Jesus and be aware of his presence; there is nowhere and there are no circumstances in which Jesus cannot come alongside us. Paul rejoiced in this truth when he wrote that key verse in his letter to the Romans (ch8 v39) "Nothing in all creation … can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord".
There are many wonderful hymns and songs written for this part of the church year, with lots of alelluia's (Praise to the Lord)! So let's sing with gusto "Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord" and, as we move on from Easter, I pray that we will indeed vividly experience the presence and power of Christ in our lives.
And in this Vision4Life Year of Evangelism perhaps we should pray repeatedly some of the words of Jan Berry in this year's URC Prayer Handbook: Risen Christ, send us out with confidence and hope to share the good news with friends and neighbours.
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