Rector's Ramblings: April 19th 2020

I hope you’ve had a chance to ponder that Gospel reading for John today; if not, have a look. What word stands out for you? For me, it was the word ‘peace’. What a lovely word!

   The disciples at this point were in stormy seas. They’d seen their leader arrested, and put to death in the most cruel way. They’d seen all their hopes and dreams die too. They were afraid of meeting the same fate at the hands of the authorities and had locked themselves in to the upper room. John was saying he believed Jesus was alive because he’d seen the grave clothes neatly folded. The women were saying they’d seen angels and Jesus alive. Thomas won’t have it that Jesus is alive. It was all confusion and fear and hope muddled up together. Stormy waters indeed.

    Jesus is there in their midst and says ‘Peace’. He shows them in his body that he is real and says ‘Peace’. He is with them.

   That took me back to the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41 – have a read). There they were being tossed about by a furious squall, water coming in to the boat. Jesus was asleep so the disciples woke him up in a panic and he said to the storm ‘Quiet. Be still’. ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ I don’t think he was telling them off but trying to help them understand that where he is, there is no need for fear, even tossing about on a stormy sea with no land in sight.

   In that instance, Jesus calmed the stormy seas immediately. For us, the stormy seas aren’t being calmed ‘just like that’; there isn’t the immediate answer/solution that we crave. We want it all to go away and it doesn’t. It brought to mind a hymn (can sing to the tune of ‘When a knight won his spurs’):

“Lord my boat is so small and the ocean is wide

and I fear I’ll be swamped by the breakers and tide,

your call is the reason I launched from the shore

convince me again what this journey is for.”

 

   At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke of his peace saying “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This week I’ve been working with Jesus on this. Feeling after his meaning. It’s not the peace of ‘Stop it all happening. Kiss it better. Make it go away’. Though we’d like that and don’t understand why he doesn’t make it all go away. His peace is not as the world gives it.

  The peace he gives is the assurance of his presence, as it was in the boat on the storm. The risen Lord Jesus is here with us and in us at all times. He is God indwelling, not God at a distance just watching on. He is there in it with us, in our boats. He feels it all with us. Somehow the good news is that that is enough and more than enough. It’s not the peace we would imagine which we think should come from fixing everything. It was enough for those first followers whose lives didn’t become easy as they told others that Jesus is alive; it’s been enough for Christians down the ages. My song goes on:

“We’ve a message of hope and salvation to share

with a world that is drifting in gloom and despair

The love seen in Christ will survive any storm

and the breath of his Spirit renew and transform”

 

 

 

 

Ponder this picture

 

 

Enough from me, for this is hard to set out well. Try to sit with this yourself and I’ll end with a prayer from Adrian Plass which may say what I’m trying to say today.

 

A PRAYER FOR TIMES OF DESPERATION

Heavenly Father, the scaffolding of my faith seems to be collapsing around me.

The person that I find inside does not impress me.

Has it all gone? Have you gone? What am I to do?

The advice from many is that you still love me, and that I must continue to have faith even when everything is falling apart.

Heavenly Father, advice is not the same as relationship.

I cannot pretend that love fills me when it simply does not.

I don’t want to rely on scaffolding any more.

I want you.

I want my life with you to be close and warm and genuine.

I’m reaching out to you now. Meet me in my fear and brokenness.

I need the real you now in a way that I never really understood before.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for Jesus. Amen