There are many aspects of the Christian faith that appeal to me, but the knowledge and awareness of a living God who is present at all times is a great comfort. We talk of God being omnipresent, which means that God is present everywhere at the same time. This knowledge blows my mind, but then I think that my thinking is limited by my human nature and realise that nothing is impossible for God.
During the Easter season we focus on the presence of the risen Lord Jesus. Hence today, a couple of weeks after Easter Day, we still have readings that focus on the risen Lord. Our Easter season in the Church continues until Pentecost (50 days after Easter). We might have a special focus on the resurrection for this season, but, of course, in truth, the risen Lord Jesus is with us constantly.
When we think of resurrection we must not think solely of an event in history. It was set in history, but it has an impact today. We celebrate the resurrection every time there is a baptism, whenever we celebrate Holy Commun-ion. When I wake of a morning and sit on the edge of my bed I like to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118) and, for me, it is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is present and will be with me through-out the day.
All the above is about me! It is one side of the coin so to speak. The resurrec-tion was part of Jesus’ experience, who was willing to enter the world at his incarnation and share life with us. His resurrection declares his ultimate triumph over sin and death. (1 Corinthians 15.54-57)
Now, back to me – all this knowledge gives me hope that I am living the eternal life with God right now and I look forward to the time when I will enter his heavenly realm and experience an even greater closeness with God.
A friend and colleague sent me this cross. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it mocking the cross? Then I thought about crosses we wear around our necks. I thought of crosses studded with diamonds and pearls. They have come along way from the cross Jesus was crucified on. I thought of the crosses on hot cross buns. What have we done with the cross? Yet surely the cross can be something joyful to us, who know that Jesus’ death on the cross brought forgiveness to us and eternal life.
This particular cross reminded me that this year Easter Day, the day of the resurrection, falls on 1st April, which is April Fool’s Day. This cross is full of clowns, fools.
In Paul’s firsts letter to the Corinthians he said, “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1.18
Here Paul recognises that without God’s grace to understand the resurrection it is foolishness. God has granted us understanding. We can rejoice. We know that the doom and gloom of Good Friday is not the end of the story.
I do believe in the physical bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. I know this is difficult for many people. For many it is a science/faith question. The resurrection might seem improbable and so it is not accepted as true. But I take comfort from Anselm of Canterbury, who said, "I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand"
The last time Easter fell on April 1 was 62 years ago in 1956. The next time the two holidays will converge will be in 2029 and then again in 2040.
In the meantime, I can smile at this cross and see something of the joy and fun that is the whole of the Easter season.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
Is it easy to say what you believe? I bet we all have differing views, yet when it comes to the Christian faith there would be much that would overlap for us. For instance, in the prayer books there are creeds – statements about the Christian faith – that most of us would adhere to.
On the All Souls’ website we have:
“All Souls Sandringham is an Anglican church. We believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ gives us the gift of life through his death on the cross and resurrection. This gift is given through faith in Jesus and lived out in community guided by the word of God.”
Then we go on to our focus “Together we go, grow and live in Jesus’ love.” Hopefully this will keep us motivated in our year of outreach.
It is interesting to go to Anglican sites to see what is listed. The Anglican Church of Australia lists the creeds. Go to Anglican Church of Australia, About Us, then What we believe?
On the other hand, if you go to the Church of England, then Our Faith, you will find What we believe? Presented very differently. It is worth checking out both sites.
The important thing is for us to know what we believe. Despite years of reciting creeds very often Anglicans get tongue-tied when asked to explain their beliefs. Spend some time looking at the creeds and ponder how you would explain to somebody the basis of your faith. Use your own words. Your words will be the most convincing, not the religious rhythm of the creeds.
Give the matter some thought and prayer.
Here we are in Lent, which began last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, and ends approximately six weeks later at Easter. It provides us with a time to reflect on certain Christian disciplines, which were highlighted on Ash Wednesday, namely Prayer, Giving (or works of love, as mentioned above) and Fasting. The absence of flowers is a sign that Lent has commenced.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured various temptations.
How might you observe the three disciplines mentioned?
Prayer – can you commit to daily prayer times or decide that church attendance will be weekly or twice a week during Lent?
Giving or Works of Love – when we think of the giving of the Lord Jesus we are reminded that there is much we can do to imitate him. Perhaps six weekly gifts to a mission agency or a charity of your choice.
Fasting – this can heighten prayer times for us. Some Christians give up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days. Personally, I’ve never found giving up chocolate to be a serious sacrifice. What might I give up that would hurt and be a reminder of Jesus suffering?
Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God. Hence, I commend the Lenten study groups to you.
May this Lent be a time of deep reflection for you and may you be drawn ever closer to the Lord Jesus.