How many times have you bumped into someone that you knew well, but for a second you just didn’t recognise them? For that second or two, or maybe longer, you cannot place who they are, or why they seem familiar. It has happened to all of us, it has certainly happened to me on more than one occasion, although my wife Helen just says it’s my age catching up with me!
Kenneth Branagh was once quoted as saying “the Chinese say, ‘It’s good to live in interesting times”, which is actually a misquote of a saying falsely attributed to the Chinese. However, the sentiment of the saying, wherever it originated, is that the times we live in are not good at all (they are ‘interesting’!), but that these times often bring innovation, change, new ways forward. It is true of many of the hardest times in human history that facing adversity head-on, being honest about our situation, leads to new ways of life that are better than before.
God trusts you… just let that sink in for a moment. Yes, you, God trusts you!
Today, as I started the morning with its brilliant sunshine and lovely refreshing breeze, I was struck again by a thought that comes to me every so often, usually when I begin to question myself, my worth or what I am here on this earth to do. Now you may think that this is not what you would expect to hear from a Pastor but these times of ‘new normal’ have reshaped aspects of life for me, as I am sure they have for you too.
So, we have had our first ‘lockdown Easter’… celebrating the wonderous gift that Jesus brought to anyone who would say his name on their lips, proclaiming Him as Lord of their lives, living life in the light and truth of His resurrection. Many of us celebrated Easter together as a scattered community, worshiping outside of our church buildings, and the world didn’t stop turning. It was a great joy to be as one in many different places.
Good Friday – Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, death and burial
Good Friday is the most difficult day for Jesus during the Passion Week. His journey turned treacherous and extremely painful in the hours leading to his death. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who had betrayed Jesus, was overcome with remorse and hanged himself early Friday morning.
Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was about to give his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, to free us from sin and death. It was during His Last Supper that Jesus established the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, and commanded his followers thus; “Do this always in remembrance of me”. We therefore remember His sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine during the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Table.
Judas was greedy and from his greed, stemmed other sins like lying to his master and the other apostles and his lack of concern for others, shown by stealing the funds that Jesus had reserved to help the poor (John 12:4-6).
Jesus spotted a fig tree that was full of covering of leaves. Its foliage was a sign that it had figs. But to His disappointment there were none. The tree not only failed to produce fruit but also gave an impression of being fruitful but having no evidence of it. He was disappointed and cursed it and immediately the tree withered.
I recently heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat’ and in a flash, it took me right back to being 6 years old and wondering (in a state of sheer panic) what would happen to me next. To put that comment into context, I had just had a bite of an apple, prepared by my grandmother I think, and I had swallowed an apple pip.
Today is the 1st of April, traditionally a time when many of us would try and prank each other, and for many of us we would become the focus of a prank. It would be a time of humour. But today, for me, feels ever so slightly different. As the world comes to terms with what has happened since Christmas it has taken on a more serious note.
I wanted to start this week, following our acts of worship on Sunday, with a beautiful reminder of where our protection comes from. It is inevitable that as the days and weeks roll by the true impact of COVID 19 is going to become very apparent, in ways many of us cannot imagine yet. Some of our lives are going to be impacted in ways we do not foresee, either through the impacts on our health, our jobs, our houses or our finances.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
As I was thinking and praying about the current situation we are all facing at the moment, I was reminded of how different we all are, how wonderfully individual and unique each one of us is. Yet, at the same time, we all carry the amazing image of God within us too and as such we should do all we can to look after ourselves.
Being unsettled and feeling restricted is a new feeling that many of us are now beginning to cope with as we move forward into the first full week of tighter restrictions, and almost all children being away from school. It is a time for adjusting to the ‘new normal’ for a while and really taking a look at the patterns of our lives… do we do things just because we always have?