Associate Rector's Letter for June
This week as I write we have been enjoying the most amazing weather - warm temperatures, gentle (cyclist-friendly) breezes and energizing sunshine. All the more striking then when the terrible events at the M.E.N. Arena cast a huge shadow over our part of the world. The senseless destruction of the lives of people out for what had been for some a long-anticipated evening of fabulous fun and great music: I use the word ‘senseless’ purposefully because if you think about it, what point did those deaths serve? Did they further the cause that the young perpetrator believed in? I doubt it, because who in their right minds would want to be part of a fanatical movement that forbids music, laughter, colour, beauty, creativity, joy, love? All the things that God put in our hearts as people bearing his image.
Did the attack strike fear and terror into the hearts of those who witnessed it and those who read about it the next morning? Well yes, initially. A very normal reaction in the face of death. But it hasn’t cowed the people involved. They and their loved ones are determined not to be hobbled by fear and where the will leads, the mind and heart follow. Their lives, and ours, will go on.
But primarily the attack was senseless because the power of evil and sin and death and hell has been broken. It can never win. Its aim can never be fully realised. Because the story of our world already has an ending that has made this as clear as day!
The Lord Jesus Christ, through willingly dying on the cross and rising again from the dead, and dealing sin and death and hell a death-blow has rendered any other scenario impossible. And that’s the hope that we have if we are in Christ; adopted into his family and living a life with the goal of bearing the family likeness: death is not the end. Evil will not prevail. Suffering will pass.
And we will live with our heavenly Father as new resurrected best versions of ourselves in the city where there is no death or mourning or crying or pain but where everything is made new.
And this isn’t a cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best kind of hope. It’s a bedrock that underpins our daily lives and attitudes and thinking and emotions.
God’s kingdom - the kind of default setting for us - will come again fully and completely in His time. But we’re in the in-between time now. Jesus’ victory has still to be accepted and realised by so many in our world. Some will never accept it. Others don’t give it a second thought. Still others have never heard about it.
And that’s why we remember Ascension, when Jesus went home to be with his Father, charging his followers with the role of being witnesses to all that he had said and done and was.
And that’s why we remember Pentecost, when God’s Spirit entered into his people, powering them up to be effective in their witness.
And all these years later, our mission as God’s church hasn’t changed. And it’s vital that people know the true story of what they are worth and how they are loved and not be bludgeoned into accepting alternative narratives. Especially those people whose lives have been broken by violence and terror.
And so that’s why churches around the world in these days are praying:
Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
May it be so more and more in our lifetime!
God bless and keep you all in these days.