A Pastoral Message – Sunday 19th April

Dear friends

So, what’s the story I wonder?  One week after Easter, what has the good news of the resurrection been for us or done for us?  What difference has our knowledge of the empty tomb made to our lives over the last week?

For the first disciples, it didn’t look as if it made much difference at all.  They were in the same house, behind the same locked doors as they had been the week before. Maybe that’s how we feel today?  Life looks much the same as it did last week.  We’re in the same place, carrying the same fears, experiencing the same restrictions.  But if death has been defeated, why has nothing much changed?  Perhaps the words of the gospel passage, John 20 v 19-31, which we are encouraged to consider today have something to say to us?

There is no doubt that the resurrection of Jesus is a big deal.  The empty tomb is a life changing event.  The resurrection does make a difference to us, but all of this can take time.  The resurrection life is a way of being and by God’s grace we grow into this way of life with some days being easy and others, like those that we are experiencing now, being really tough.  That’s not because the resurrection isn’t making a difference or that we’re doing something wrong.  It’s just that it all takes time.

I read recently that “The empty tomb is a fact, but the resurrection is a story and there’s a difference between facts and stories.”  You see facts provide us with information but stories often touch our hearts.  Facts transform our knowledge but stories have the power to transform our lives.  So, the fact of the empty tomb is the starting point for the story of the resurrection.

That means that whatever the facts of our lives today, whatever our circumstances, that’s the starting point or the stepping stone for our ongoing story of resurrection.  So, if you’re lonely, or fearful, or confused, or anxious, or grieving, or ill, or content, or grateful – that’s the experience into which Christ comes, that’s where Jesus joins you, that’s where Jesus shows up just as he did in that locked room with the disciples all those years ago!

Jesus comes into our experience breathing life and peace and hope and courage and strength into us.  So, I encourage us all to breathe in all that Christ offers to us so that however much we may be physically confined in our homes, we are not spiritually confined, but renewed and enlivened in our faith as the resurrection story continues to unfold in our lives and our experience.

Those first disciples perhaps stayed in the locked room for longer than was necessary but eventually they took courage, broke out of their restricted space and shared the good news with others.  At this moment we have no idea how much longer we will be physically confined, but let’s take courage, let’s allow the resurrection story to continue to unfold in us and share the good news of that story with others by whatever means we can.

Gill Newton

District Chair