Genesis 32:22-32 | Acts 9:1-9 | John 20:19-23
We are now in the season of the resurrection (I'm not talking about the Church calendar!). A post-Easter world, in which the curtain has been torn, the stone has been rolled away and the gates have been lifted. So why is it that we still live in a world that is so evidently broken by sin, and why are there still imperfections that have not been overcome by this awesome Gospel truth?
I invite you to look at the three passages that I’ve suggested for reading. These for me sum up the paradox. Jacob meets with God, wrestles with him and comes away with a broken hip. Saul witnesses the resurrected Christ and comes away from it blinded by the experience. And Thomas, like Paul, encounters the resurrected Jesus and recognises him by his wounds.
At Easter we are told of the new creation that is waiting for us, and with it a wholeness that only Jesus can bring. But salvation is not about being saved from the world, it is about being saved for the world, since we are called to follow the God who became humanity for the world. So how can we reconcile a world that is still at odds with itself, and with this Easter faith?
It shouldn’t surprise us that in our desire to follow Christ, whose ministry led directly to Calvary, we are likely to first experience a breach before we encounter healing. For Jacob, the injury to his hip from wrestling with God, was preparation for the healing and reconciliation he would later find with his brother, and with God. For Saul, the loss of sight was a counter to the healing and reconciliation he would later find for himself, without this, he would otherwise be held back by his history. And the passage from John’s gospel reminds us that Christ’s resurrected body still exhibited the scars of his crucifixion. Which might teach us that in our own resurrection, all that we have suffered will aid us in our partaking in Christ’s glory.
These passages teach us that ‘wholeness and healing’ in a Christlike sense is not the same as wholeness and healing in a worldly sense. Christ did not setup a trauma centre or an accident and emergency tent outside Jerusalem. Rather he met the reality of our brokenness by joining us in our brokenness. You’ll remember that he said “I am the resurrection and the life” after weeping over the death of Lazarus. You’ll remember that he sweated blood, whilst agonizing over his path to the cross. Christ’s way is not the easy way.
So, does that mean we shouldn’t ask for healing in prayer for human ailments, does this mean we shouldn’t request cures for all that harms or deters us from life? No, of course not. Jesus healed the sick, and through his faith we can find wholeness despite being confronted by things that we would otherwise have no control over. But what these passages teach us is that God can still be found in the hurt, the pain, the injury and the ache. Leonard Cohen wrote:
Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
In the pain and the hurt of the world, in which we will all feel and share at some point in our lives, we pray that a new perspective of God is found, and our faith is made more real in the knowledge that Jesus suffered with us, and our prayer for wholeness might ultimately honour his suffering, and the suffering of the world he loves.
May the life and blessing of this Easter season be with you.
Revd Jeremy Putnam.
I’ve just finished reading an article about Glastonbury 2017. Every year, it’s bigger, it’s better, the acts are more sought after and tickets get sold on the secondary market for more money than before due to the sheer demand. Every year however there is something else that is bigger.
The immense pile of tents and camping equipment that is left behind. The article was about Cornwall Fire and Rescue and the trip they take to Glastonbury, along with a number of charities and organisations, to reclaim some of the thousands of tents that are left behind.
One could almost understand waking up from a heavy night in 2016, when it’s been raining all weekend, and your tent is half full of mud, and not wanting to take it down without making it more of a mess or even usable again, but I’m still not convinced that gives permission to abandon your tent and leave it for someone else to deal with it.
In August we have our own mini version of the same situation when Boardmasters hits Newquay.
Boardmasters wishes to explain in the next few years to be accepting 50,000 people meaning even more tents abandoned in the seaside town.
Earlier this week I read another article about such kind of waste, such throw away ideas. This time it was about the number of body boards which are just left on beaches throughout Cornwall. The article estimated around 14,000 body boards are bought and abandoned on beaches every year - just in Cornwall and not including the ones which are swept out into the sea.
Why do I feel so impassioned about this?
Because I believe we have a responsibility to the planet we live in.
You don’t need to be a Christian to believe we have this responsibility.
For me, I believe I was created by the same God who created this world and as such if he loves me (as I spoke about previously) then he loves this planet and he wants us to look after it. You don’t need to look hard in the Bible for scripture relating to our stewardship of the planet (Genesis 1:26-28, Psalm 8).
However, it is easy to see that ‘environmental stewardship’ is not something Christians claim for their own.
Whether you believe the world was brought into being by the word of a ‘Creator God’ or burst into life from a big bang, or whether you believe in ‘Mother Nature’ or we are all here by sheer happenstance I think most people find it hard to come up with reasonable points to say we don’t have some level of responsibility to not be wasteful with our planet and to not look after it.
I’d hope those reading this are not the kind who buy a tent and abandon it in a field or leave a body board on the beach for someone else to pick up but there is always something more we can do, be it recycle, reuse or upcycle; to find new ways to limit our packaging, remember our bags when we go shopping (something I awful at) or make sure when we put our rubbish out we cover it up so it doesn’t get attacked by seagulls and scattered across our roads.
Until next time.
Lydia Remick (LLM – Reader)
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.