A Letter from John, one of our Readers…
I am writing this as Holy Week once more approaches, culminating as it does with the awful events of Good Friday. Each year, as we move through the church cycle of festivals, commemorations and holy days we bring to mind and mark familiar events and themes which still have the power to move and inspire us. In the weeks from Easter to Pentecost it is the tradition to consider the various Resurrection stories each of the Gospel writers give us. Each account has its own particular message for us regarding the Risen Christ and the impact he can, and does, make on our lives today.
Do you have a favourite Resurrection story? It may be that as the years pass you find yourself drawn to a particular account, for me it always comes back to the story of those two people walking to Emmaus. (Luke 24.13-35) It is a very human story of two disappointed people on a journey. We have all no doubt experienced disappointments in our own lives, not all our hopes and plans and dreams turn out as we expect or long for, unless we have been very fortunate (or led lives of low expectation?) These two people are talking about what has happened and Jesus simply comes alongside and joins in their conversation. Talking is so important. Here at Saint Mary’s some of us have been meeting on a Tuesday evening during Lent and, apart from the worship, the most important thing we have done, in my view, has been to simply talk with one another about our faith and about the life of our church. As we talk we believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit the presence of Christ is with us to guide us, just as he did those two on the road to Emmaus. Of course we may not realise it at the time but then something happens and the ‘penny drops’! We read, ‘When Jesus was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”’
Such experiences do not happen every day, but just sometimes we are privileged to enjoy something like it – let us be thankful and share these things when they do.
There is much more to be said about this story but I would like to draw your attention to one other thing, when Jesus first meets up with those travellers he asks a number of questions to which he already knows the answers. As someone who from time to time has put questions to study groups I have experienced very interesting reactions to asking ‘obvious’ questions. Sometimes obvious questions do not have obvious answers but in searching for answers we can learn a great deal. In another Resurrection account you will remember Jesus asked his disciple Peter three times whether he loved him, and, we read, Peter ‘felt hurt’. (John 21.15-19) I am sure Jesus did not intend to hurt Peter, or to ‘wind him up’ as we might say today, but rather he was preparing him for the mighty work that lay ahead of him, the work of proclaiming the good news about Jesus, after Jesus had ascended into heaven.
So, talking, asking and answering questions, walking alongside one another, who knows what may be revealed to us as we prayerfully seek to be led by the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all the truth. And then there is Pentecost . . . .
May we each experience anew the joy of the Risen Christ this Eastertide.