“Tell his disciples and Peter ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will find Him, just as he told you.’“ Mark 16.7.
The disciples discovered that Jesus had triumphed over death. They were still working out what this might mean, but suddenly the story that seemed ended at Good Friday was again promising new hope. Day 3 of our daily Lent devotional from Tear Fund ‘A story to live by’ wrote about the Hebrew word ‘Teshuva’: a word that means ‘returning’: returning to the vibrant, abundant life God has made available to us.
I always notice the words ‘and Peter’. Peter had denied Jesus, disowning the one to whom he had pledged his life. Jesus knew Peter no longer felt he was worthy of the title ‘disciple’. In her excellent reflection on Tuesday in Holy Week, Revd Jos Perris dwelt on the ‘scars’ that many of us carry from the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have not even had time to acknowledge them, to take account of them, as we’ve just trudged on and striven to ‘keep going’. Peter was trudging on, returning to what he knew: fishing (john 21.3). Yet Jesus sought him out, in Galilee, and restored him to ‘teshuva’: a renewed relationship of service to the Lord.
I hope we too can sense the call, as we emerge bit by bit from lockdown, to serve others in Jesus’ name. We carry the scars of our experience, loneliness, loss, perhaps weariness with the relentlessness of lockdown in the dark winter. Some may feel their faith has grown a bit faint. Yet Easter is about resurrection: about new life after death. Can we ‘return’ to serving God and others, renewed by a sense that we are following Jesus afresh?
Katherine and I recently made a donation to a vaccine charity in thanksgiving for our precious jabs, the fruits of painstaking and ingenious work by scientists. You may recall that in newsletter no. 35, I set out several of the opportunities to donate publicized by Bishop Alan. Please as you read this, I hope you, too, have made your donation to one of the charities suggested? It’s not every day that we can be part of giving life to others; every gift to vaccine charities means we can help save someone we may never meet from severe illness and death through Covid.
I believe that we can gain fresh hope and purpose by generous acts and committed service to Christ. It may be by supporting vaccine and mission charities, helping our churches by filling vacant roles, re-committing to spiritual food through regular attendance (on line or in person-) at worship, prayer and Bible study groups, and assisting outreach activities to the community. In such ways we can rediscover our faith as ‘a story to live by’. Easter declares that, even if we feel a bit distant and dented, (as Peter certainly did), God wants to give us, too, resurrected hope. The scars of the past need not limit our future, if we throw our lot in with Jesus Christ.
With our love and prayers for this new year, Richard and Katherine.