Gail Rudge, Licensed Evangelist writes:
Isn’t spring the most amazing time? Maybe because Easter was nearly as late as it could be, the season has seemed to just last and last. Beginning almost imperceptibly, we’ve enjoyed waves of different flowers, such a display of beauty bringing hope and newness of life after the cold and damp of winter. But, as this season draws to a close, it isn’t the end. There’s more to look forward to. We’ve enjoyed new beginnings, seen new life, not only in the plants but in the fields and trees around us; there are lambs in the fields, birds singing, our swallows have returned to nest in the church porch – don’t mention the bats! There’s a promise of so much more to come.
Walking round the garden enjoying all this made me think about the disciples and Jesus’ family and friends. Their fear and total despair for the future had been transformed into joy beyond their expectations. Not only had their Lord risen from the dead, not only had he appeared to them that first day, but he kept on appearing. We don’t have many details about these appearances; we know that very soon after he’d risen the disciples enjoyed a BBQ breakfast with him in Galilee. What a turmoil of emotions must have hit Peter when he saw Jesus standing on the shore and ran out of the water to meet him. Then that walk alone together; having to face up to his denials; be challenged about his love; then being reinstated.
We know Jesus spent 40 days teaching; explaining; fitting together the missing pieces of the jigsaw; making everything clear at last. Paul tells us of one occasion when Jesus appeared to over 500 of the brothers at the same time. What a gathering and let’s not forget the women who would surely have been part of all this, those who had followed, supported and cared for him during his ministry, stood at the foot of the cross, those to whom he first appeared, and his family.
What a time it must have been; a time of joy and hope but also, as Jesus kept appearing and teaching them, a time of growing expectation of more. A growing understanding that their role would be to tell the world about him. A growing confidence in the promises that Jesus had made that he would be with them through his Spirit.
‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’.
Then he was gone; he blessed them, then ascended into heaven before their very eyes. If they had needed any further confirmation of who he was they had it!
During Lent we’ve had not only the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ journey, from the temptations in the desert to his final journey to the cross, but to take the time to reflect on our own spiritual journey. Now, after the rejoicing of Easter, can we feel a rising expectation of more to come in our relationship with God? Maybe an increased awareness of his presence in our lives; maybe hints – challenges – of how we could serve him, where our journey with him will take us?
Whatever happens I pray that all of us may share in the hope and rising expectation of how God will reveal his presence and his will to us and, as we approach Pentecost, our hearts will be open to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit both in our individual lives and in our lives together.