Celebration???

My 5th Coronacom Newsletter written for my congregation for Easter Sunday.

Dear All!

Readings: Psalm 22 and 23, Luke 24:1-12, Hebrews 10:11-14

I don’t know about you but I’m sat here trying to write something celebratory for Easter Sunday morning and I’m definitely in more of a Good Friday mood!

On Good Friday, we are allowed to be solemn and a little bit grumpy, aren’t we?  Jesus has been nailed to the cross and we imagine a little bit of what he went through to try and grasp it and what that means for us.  Usually, Good Friday feels like a little bit of a sham.  Like I have to work my way up to feeling sad and forlorn just for a couple of days knowing already that Jesus is alive, that he has risen and that the victory is his.  

Not so much this year.  

This year, I am much more on a par with Good Friday than I am with Easter Sunday in my feelings and my emotions.  

That’s not because I have lost my faith, it’s not because I don’t know or have forgotten that Jesus rose again, that the victory is his.  It’s because, right at this moment in time, I’m not hearing a lot of good news from anywhere.

Every time I read the news, it’s bad.  The daily figures are released and we find out that the curve is not yet even vaguely beginning to flatten.  People are dying all over the world.  People are dying right here, right where we are.  In the last week, I have read on the news of the nurse who died at QEQM – knowing already that it had happened because one of her daughters is at Matt’s school.  I have been praying for Karl, an officer at Claptson SA who is in hospital very sick with the virus and for his wife who, if that wasn’t enough, has lost her brother to it in the last couple of days.  I have sent messages of condolence to Chris, another Officer whose father died this week.  I have been asked to pray on the Herne Bay Facebook pages for those who have relatives or friends who are ill or scared or stuck in other countries unable to get home.  I have prayed for you as some of you have told me of losses that you are facing personally.  

People are afraid.  People I know who are strong and full of courage are feeling weak and wobbly and like it’s all too much.  People who don’t cry are crying.  People who don’t pray are praying.

People are needing reassurance on some things that we just can’t give:

Am I going to get ill?

Will my family be ok?

Will they find a cure or vaccination soon?

Is it all going to be ok?

Is it okay to feel like this?

We have already spoken about lament, about the fact that we can bring our unhappiness, our doubts, our questions to God and that it is good to do so.  We looked at the Psalms, didn’t we?  How David poured out his thoughts and his anger to God.  How he was able to do that and still recognise that God was with him.  Have a read of Psalm 23 now.  Recommend it to others.  It’s a familiar Psalm and will bring people comfort right now.  Now read the Psalm before it.  Less comfortable in some ways and yet in it, we see a prophetic vision of Jesus on the cross and we read, in the last line, the wonderful news that ‘He has done it’.  On Good Friday, you will probably have read Jesus’ words’, ‘It is finished’.  In Hebrews, chapter 10, we read about Jesus as ‘the great High Priest’ who, when he had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.  ‘He has done it.”  Halleluah!

Read the passage from Luke 24: 1-12.  Here we see the account of the disciples discovering that Jesus has risen from the dead. 

As I type, I have a song just come into my head.  Funnily enough, not the one I had in mind when I started.  This one is an old song.  One I’ve not heard for years.  It was written in 1961 by a man called John W. Peterson.  

The words that came to mind are from the third verse and chorus.

I have a future in heaven for sure there in those mansions sublime.

Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure after the passing of time;

And it’s because of that wonderful day, when at the cross I believed;

Riches eternal and blessings supernal, from His precious hand I received.

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,

When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;

My sins were washed away and my night was turned to day,

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.

We’ve talked about hope in the last two Coronacoms, haven’t we and, right now, stuck at home coughing and wondering whether it will get worse and is the virus and whether I will pass it on to Matt who really can’t afford to get it with his high blood pressure and asthma, I’m not really feeling it.

But whether I feel it or not, it is there and it is real and it will surely endure.  Because of that wonderful day when Jesus died on the cross and the day when he rose again, Easter Sunday, that we celebrate every year, I have a future in heaven and so do you if you believe that Jesus came and lived a perfect life and died and rose again for you, because he loves you.  

There is good news.  Even when all that we read is bad.  Even when every phone call we get we panic about what we are going to hear.  Even when those around us are dying.  Even if we get the virus and end up in ICU as the Prime Minister has…..  Even then, there is good news.  

Allow yourself to enjoy it today.  Allow yourselves to celebrate the Risen King and to hope for a brighter future.

The song I had planned to share still fits perfectly.  I’m going to leave you with it now. I’m going to challenge you to sing it on Sunday on your own, with your family and to believe the wonderful truth that is in it.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul.

It is well with my soul.

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Much love and God bless you all,