2000 years ago Jesus had formed a really good team of men and women around him. They
were just ordinary people with all the usual strengths and weaknesses. During their
time spent with Jesus, he had nurtured them and equipped them to share his mission.
However, when Jesus was crucified they all assumed that the whole business was over.
But after his resurrection their energy and their enthusiasm was rekindled. With
their leader back from beyond death, surely the mission could continue as before.
But of course Jesus had other plans. His earthly ministry was coming to an end. Now
it was the turn of the disciples to take forward what he himself had begun. And it
wasn't going to happen while he was still with them. If he had always been with them,
they would always look to him to make decisions, to reassure them and to get them
out of any difficulties. Their skills could only bear fruit if he left. They had
seen his death and they had witnessed his resurrection. They had lived all the deepest
truths of the Gospel. They all knew that God's life would always conquer death and
that love could never be destroyed by hate. They were now ready to take that message
to the ends of the earth.
Last Thursday we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. The day when Jesus disappeared
in front of the disciples on top of a mountain. It was after this event that a new
mission began. The Gospels describe the followers of Jesus experiencing a wide range
of emotions in the time following his resurrection. There was disbelief, surprise,
terror, joy and amazement. And so when he ascends to heaven we might expect tears
at this new bereavement. But we are told rather of their joy as they return to the
Temple in Jerusalem to praise God and to wait for what will happen next. They are
all facing forwards and ready to go. And so we hold our breath waiting for the promised
gift of the Holy Spirit that will reveal just what these people can really do. That
is the Feast of Pentecost which we will celebrate next Sunday. And so we are heirs
of those first followers of Jesus. We didn't know Jesus in the flesh, and though
we may feel that as a loss, it is actually not an experience we need. We have been
appointed God's agents in the world and God has given us all the necessary skills.
The Church founded by those first disciples is now our Church and their responsibility
is ours along with the inspiration we need to fulfil it. We know it is very easy
to despair about the state of the world. We can feel very small in relation to the
vast and complex economic and political issues we see in our own country and elsewhere
in the world. When we think there is nothing we can realistically do we need to remember
those first disciples. A small group of men and women from rural Palestine. Followers
of an itinerant rabbi who was executed by the Romans. These people succeeded in spreading
throughout the world the surprising message that the God of Israel is the Creator
and Saviour of all the nations. God goes on calling people in so many ways to further
his Kingdom and we are part of the Team to carry out that mission. I believe we owe
it to the first disciples and all those who have worshipped in Beeley and Edensor
down the ages to continue that mission and realise not only what a joy that is but
also what a tremendous responsibility.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you were brought low, yet you have been lifted high.
You were the servant of all, yet you are above all and beyond all.
You were despised and rejected,
yet your name is exalted above all names.
You were fully human, yet you are divine.
You were taken into heaven, yet you are here with us now.
You are higher than our highest thoughts,
yet we can know you as friend.
So with all your people of every age,
we bow before you and confess you as our risen Saviour,
the King of kings, and Lord of lords,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Canon Dave 15th May 2021
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
At the time of sending this weekly message, more lives are being lost in the Holy
Land. The situation is terrible and must end. The powerful nations of this world
need to get involved and condemn the actions of both Israelis and Palestinians. Margaret
and myself have been leading pilgrimages to this amazing part of the world since
1991 and made many friends. We are so sad to see that events which started in Jerusalem
have now rapidly escalated to other areas where Israelis and Palestinians lived in
harmony with each other. Many of our Palestinian guides used to tell us that they
all wanted to live in peace with each other. Please pray for innocent people being
affected, living in terror and fear.