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We can endure this

One of the most beautiful moments of the Easter season is the day when we contemplate once again the story of the road to Emmaus. 

We think of Jesus walking alongside Cleopas and the other one and we think of Jesus walking beside us; guiding us, giving us strength; being there for us.

This Easter this seemed to be an especially important message as we realised that we and our loved ones and people we know may have to face the possibility of death and even death itself on our own, without our loved ones around us. 

I urged you all a few Sundays back to keep that image of Jesus being with you firmly in your mind, so I could tell others that I was sure you knew you were not alone at the end of your earthly life.

And recently I keep hearing people talk about walking alongside other people.  Our church is a community of people who consciously seek to walk alongside others.  Being like Christ to them on their road to Emmaus.

We have been working hard, looking out for vulnerable members of our community.  And as well as that there are all our neighbours and friends and family who need us to be strong for them at this time, offering practical support, hope, love, somebody who will listen.

And people have told me that they need to feel Jesus beside them so that they can find the strength to be there for other people.

This is what it means to be the body of Christ.  To walk alongside others so that they are not alone.  To tell them about Jesus so that we can explain why it is that we do not feel ourselves to be alone.

We are still in the Easter season.  But as Easter draws to a close, the feeling has changed.

Thursday was Ascension Day when Jesus was lifted up into heaven and a cloud took him out of sight of the watching disciples.

And as the disciples continued to gaze up into the heavens, two men in white came alongside them to redirect their gaze.  Don’t look up at the departing Jesus they said.  Look forward to the coming Jesus.

But that feels very different.  Being without Jesus; waiting for his return; that can feel rather lonely; rather difficult to contemplate.

Jesus knew that his departure would be difficult for his disciples then and for us now. So Jesus speaks to God on our behalf.  Our Gospel passage tells us how this conversation goes.

Addressing God, Jesus says, ‘And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world (meaning us), and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one’.

So Jesus asks God to protect us and we may believe that God protects us.  He protects us so that we may be one; so that we may be reconciled with God through Jesus Christ.

Peter repeats this message in his letter to the church.  He acknowledges the pain of what we are called to endure.  But he says, we may depend on God, casting all our anxiety on him, because he cares for us.

Depending on God does not remove from us those things that threaten us.

Peter writes that, ‘Our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’.  The danger is out there.  We must stay alert.

But, despite this, Peter says we should expect God’s protection.  God will restore us, support us, strengthen us and establish us.

So Jesus has departed from us but we are to expect his coming again.

We are enduring much and we are threatened by danger but we are to cast our anxiety on God who has promised through Jesus Christ to restore us.

How does that feel?

I think that still feels quite challenging and especially now.

  • We are sick. 
  • We have died. 
  • We have been impoverished. 
  • We have lost jobs; businesses are on the point of collapse; whole economic sectors appear to have no short or even medium term future.
  • We are being asked to place ourselves at greater risk than we would normally contemplate, we have to weigh up economic pressure and the need to keep ourselves and others safe.
  • What does the future hold?
  • How long can we continue like this?
  • We are angry
  • We are losing hope
  • We are in despair

Does any of this describe your situation and what you are enduring?

Does any of this describe what is being endured by people you know; people you love?

Can we endure this?  Can we continue to walk alongside others?  Can we continue to bring hope and healing to others?

How confident are you?

We can endure this.  That is what all these passages of Scripture are telling us. 

In between Ascension and Pentecost, when we imagine what it was like to see the risen Christ depart before the Holy Spirit had properly arrived, we gather here today to restate our confidence that we can endure this.

The Spirit of God is resting upon us.

We are the body of Christ in the world, the body of Christ who was glorified by the Father who will restore us, support us, strengthen us and establish us.

We will return to all these things in our Eucharistic prayer.

But now, standing shoulder to shoulder with the whole of body of Christ throughout the world and across all ages, let us declare our faith in God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 


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Page last updated: 24th May 2020 8:52 AM