Mary Magdalen - Easter 2017
2 April 2017
Mary Magdalene has a crucial role as witness to us about the Easter Miracle. She has been called 'The Apostle to the Apostles'. For it was she who first encountered the empty tomb. It was she who ran to find Peter and John to tell them. It was she who had the first encounter with the risen Christ. It is she we can use as a model for our own journey of faith and our own encounter with the living Christ.
St. Mark records Mary, with other witnesses, seeing Jesus die on the cross. She saw where he was laid in the tomb. So when the Sabbath was past, Mary, and others, brought spices to the tomb where they’d seen Jesus being laid, in order to anoint him as was their tradition, suspecting nothing out of the ordinary. Expecting to find a bruised and battered, bloody body, wrapped in linen as was the custom.
And yet she finds the tomb empty.
What would we do in such circumstances? I don’t suppose we’d stand there and say: “Oh, well… looks like my acquaintance has been resurrected.” Or: “Oh well. Looks like I’ve had a wasted trip – never mind.” One thing we might do is: be seized with a sudden panic. We might get out of that place as quickly as possible and race to find someone to tell. Preferably someone we knew.
And what would we say? “I went to visit that grave and you’ll never guess. It was empty. I can’t believe it! Could someone have stolen the body…? Why would they do such a thing?!?”
Well, that is exactly what Mary did and said.
Which is why the Gospel record gives us, through Mary, an authentic witness to the resurrected Christ.
So, how does all this help us go about our lives as Christians today?
One way is to try and model ourselves on Mary’s faithfulness. For her, she’d seen the man she had been following die. She mourned him, but she didn’t turn her back on all he’d meant to her, she didn’t hide herself away, or just pack up and go home. She carried on. Even in the darkest times, at the point of deepest despair and greatest doubt. Even though she had, we imagine, nothing left to hope for, she still did what was right and important. And her faithfulness and her love reaped rewards beyond measure. As a result, she was the first to encounter the risen Christ - and recognised Jesus as such.
When we feel at our lowest ebb. When, perhaps, we feel that Christ, in some way, is absent from our lives, that God doesn’t seem to care. We can - and should - continue in our prayers, in our faith, in our trust… And, if we do, we, too, will surely receive our own encounter with the risen Christ. Just like Mary.
With every blessing to you and those you love this Easter. Amen
A Lenten Reflection
18 March 2017
Jesus is standing, even now, as he did before Pilate and Herod,
silent before the secular rulers of the world.
Jesus stands, silent, before the self-righteous religious people.
Those religious people who are so wrapped up in their own ways
and their own version of the Truth.
Come and See
16 January 2017
‘Come and See.’ Such a simple phrase, and yet one of the most profound in all of scripture. This is God – the creator, the one in whom we all live move and have our being, extending to us a great and gracious invitation. Come and see…
Christmas Message 2016 - Change
23 November 2016
It sneaks up on us doesn’t it? Not the regular changes we’ve become used to. Like the seasons. Like the change from countryside to city when we journey in the car or the train. Like the change of cultures or even languages when we travel. Like the change from our daily routines into periods of celebration - as with birthdays or anniversaries… or Christmas. Those kinds of changes don’t tend to bring with them any sense of unease.
Christ the King
21 November 2016
Last time, we were talking about the point at which pain and grace meet. The place where Christ is to be found. We end our church liturgical year with something called the Kingship of Christ. Why do we end it celebrating Christ as King when, in just a few weeks time we will celebrate the birth of the King again? Why do we end it (as the church does) with a reference to Christ’s crucifixion? Well, perhaps we are being asked: what does the Cross say about the Kingship of Christ?
Remembrance Sunday 2016
13 November 2016
Most of us here in Britain, thankfully, find the Christian journey, if a little complex, not too demanding. I use the word journey because this is what we are on. We the church. Individually and communally. It is good to have someone to pray for us, look out for us, seek out with us what is best and most fruitful for us in our ministries both as church and as individuals… But we are also, first and foremost, called to follow Christ ourselves as individuals, and to model Christ to others whether anyone is alongside or not. After all, the most important ‘someone’ is still alongside - and will never leave each one of us: Jesus.
The Dishonest Steward
17 September 2016
On Sunday we read the bible story Jesus told of the Dishonest Steward of a great man’s estate (Luke 16.1-13). A servant who, about to be sacked for dishonesty, went around to everyone who owed the great man money and deliberately cooked the books so they didn’t have to pay quite so much. An act which, Jesus’s story goes on to relate, the owner of the estate, surprisingly, then praises him for.
Praising the dishonest steward for losing him money in order to help others?
What’s that all about?
Luke 12.13-21 & Ecclesiastes
4 August 2016
Help me Jesus! Take my side. He’s in the wrong and I’m in the right. Tell him. Tell him off. Make him give me the money he owes me.
That, in a way, is how one Gospel passage starts (Luke 12.13-21). In the Ancient Near East Rabbis, Teachers, the Learned, were sought out by parties in dispute to give a legal ruling on any given issue. One wonders, without legal institutional accountability, whether some of those ‘learned folk’ - those people in positions of authority, responsibility, trust - were perhaps corrupt and would look more favourably on those people who – shall we say – offered some kind of ‘thank you’ in terms of money or goods for finding in their favour? Thank goodness that doesn’t happen today (!)
Pentecost and Trinity 2016
14 May 2016
This is the time of year when Christians celebrate Christ's Ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Ascension is an odd thing, really isn't it? In Art we are usually presented with the image of Jesus floating off into the clouds. It certainly is the image we are given as Children. And it seems, well, unbelievable, right?
Perhaps I can let you in on a little secret...? Human beings have – and have always had – difficulty in believing anything. Anything. So we shouldn't be surprised if we, as human beings – at least most of us, I assume – find this Ascension event difficult to get our heads around.
John 13; v31-35
23 April 2016
One of our Bible Readings in this post-Easter period The Gospel of John Chapter 13 includes a discussion about what it means to be Jesus' 'own'. It is important to look at these things as we head towards our celebration of the Ascension (when we recall Jesus' leaving the Disciples to be in the nearer presence of the Creator), and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost where Jesus' 'own' come into their own so to speak. This discussion centres on two things: Glory and Trust.