We hope that you are keeping well during this ongoing stressful and difficult period and firstly can we thank you for the things you have been continuing to do (sometimes without the knowledge of the rest of us!) in order to keep our parish together under such difficult circumstances. Zoom services, prayer meetings, homegroups, DCCs, PCCs, as well as a myriad of other events are still happening within our parish and this is thanks to so many people pulling together and working together for God and for His glory.
May we please draw your attention to a verse from scripture? The event in question comes after Jesus has been crucified and a confused, dispirited, incomplete group of disciples have met together.
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (John 21 v 3 NIV)
Apparently one of the key principles of computer technology is that if something has gone wrong or broken down, it is helpful to go back to the point at where the device last worked effectively and work on the issue from that point onwards, rebooting I believe its called!
And I think this is something like what we see in Simon Peter’s comment about going back to fish (and the other disciples who were present deciding to follow his lead.) They wanted to get back to “normality” once again, back to the last time they remembered anything in their lives actually making sense. In a sense they all wanted to reverse Jesus’ words in Mark 1 v 17;
“You are currently fishing for people but from now on you will go back to fishing for fish!”
But of course they caught nothing, and why was that? Why couldn’t they find comfort and success in their old way of doing things? Why did the familiar tasks that they used to perform so efficiently not work for them anymore? Why did the “rebooting” process fail so miserably?
Because despite what Simon Peter and the other disciples were feeling, things would never be the same again. Jesus had not just been crucified but 3 days later He was raised from the
dead and there would be no going back to fishing for fish. The resurrected Christ was on the scene and Simon Peter would fulfil his role as the rock on which the church would be built. Fishing for people was well and truly still on the agenda!
All of us have a natural urge to want to reboot, to get back to the way things were. We long to be able to sing in church, to hug and shake hands, to have tea, coffee and custard creams as well as good conversation and fellowship after the service, to throw face masks into the dustbin and to stay closer to everyone than 2 metres. We want to attend weddings, birthdays, to hug children and grandchildren, to go on holiday and to have our hair done! All of these things are right and proper and we pray that that they will all come to pass sooner rather than later.
And from a very personal point of view David is looking forward to the churches opening once again and there being the opportunity of drawing the congregations back together so that he can meet them! It has been a very frustrating time waiting for a “normal Sunday” in order to worship with the “usual congregation”.
However we need to also remember that the last year has in no way been a question of God giving up on us or changing his plans without telling us. He has been with us continually and he looks forward to our going forward with him in the days and weeks and months that lie ahead. COVID-19 and its aftermath may be with us for quite a period of time but that does not mean that God has abandoned us. His call to us as Christians to share his love with the people around us is still very much item number one on his agenda. Of course how we do this will need to be considered and much prayer and reflection will be necessary in order to discern God’s will for the way forward for us as a parish. We also need time to reflect on what has happened to us and to acknowledge the grief, pain, loss and trauma that many of us have experienced over the past year.
And so as we celebrate Easter this year can we once again reflect on the marvellous truth revealed to the world on that first Easter day; “He is not here, He is risen!” If Jesus does not belong in a place of death but rather to a place of life then as His people we are the same. And so even in the difficulties that we are facing at present we can experience that resurrection life in our own lives and then spread it on to others. Easter teaches us that after the darkness of Good Friday and the cross comes the glorious light of Easter Day and new life: we are Easter people.
May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Easter.
Robert & David