Hello again and a Happy Easter to each one of you. No doubt like me you are experiencing this as a rather strange Easter. It certainly felt strange on Sunday not being able to celebrate the Resurrection as we usually do. Nevertheless, with the help of new technology a few us did manage a virtual sunrise service and I lit a fire in the Rectory garden to represent the Light of Christ rekindled after death.
As the daily news briefings inform us of the rising death toll from COVID-19, of the myriad challenges the virus has brought and is bringing about for our health and care services, our way of life, our economy and our future; for individuals, families and communities; and as we lament the pain and sorrow which has such a grip on our world, such symbols of hope (the light of Christ which the darkness has not overcome) take on an even greater significance.
So, this week my Reflection is prompted by some verses from the 1st letter of Peter,
chapter 1, verses 3-9.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire -may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We Christians live a double life. We live in this world (for us, in one of seven parishes) and in the new world of God’s re-creation where his rule reigns fully and joyfully – ‘an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading’. Its not easy having dual citizenship because we have our loyalties in both (possibly competing) places, but the unifying factor is our identity in Christ; for we have been chosen and destined by God.
Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that some have not been destined and chosen. No, far from it, it simply means that some have not yet realised what a privilege and opportunity they have. When I see people reported in the media, falling over themselves to deny such an implausible thing as belief in God, I simply grieve. I don’t think it worries God too much whether people believe in him or not. God isn’t proud, and he has the last word after all. But I do think he grieves that people are denying themselves the freedom, depth and abundance for which he created them. Why live in three dimensions when you could have half a dozen?
But Peter’s enthusiastic opening to his letter is actually meant to put his readers’ present experience into a bigger context. They were up against it. They were suffering and being persecuted. But Peter wants his readers to embrace the bigger picture and encourage them with the amazing grace of God. So too, I believe for you and I, and the whole world as we journey through this time of crisis, even in the depths of sorrow, whatever we are up against, may we never forget the joy of Christ risen and his light which no darkness can ever extinguish.
Creator God, we hold before you in prayer all those who have contracted the coronavirus, all those in isolation, care homes, hospital and ICUs. We pray for medical and ancillary staff, for carers and for all who risk their lives to tend others. We pray for those working to provide and distribute PPE, those working to increase our testing capability, those working to discover a vaccine. We pray for all who have died, for families and friends who have been unable to say a proper goodbye and we ask that you enfold them all in your love. We pray for each and every one doing the little they can to reflect your light in the darkness. We thank you for the living hope you have given us through the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ and ask that you would enable his light would burn brightly in us as we journey through the challenges of the coming days. In Jesus name.