01 May Vicars’ Blog – May 2017- Living as People of the Risen King
Living as People of the Risen King
The grief for the disciples was unbearable. Only two days before they had enjoyed a wonderful Passover meal with Jesus. But this was now totally overshadowed by the arrest, unjust trials, mockery, beatings and finally execution by crucifixion of Jesus the following day. Saturday must have been interminably long and desolate. Jesus was their friend, but they had also thought him to be the long-promised Messiah, the Son of God. And now their hopes lay in tatters. Yet some of his female friends, out of their love for him, went to the tomb early on Sunday morning. They were in the right place to be the first to witness to evidence of the resurrection. Jesus had defeated death and was alive! He then appeared to Mary, to the twelve disciples on several occasions and, according to 1 Corinthians 15, to 500 of his followers. Jesus’ death and resurrection changes everything. He has reconciled sinful people to God, and offers total forgiveness. He has opened the way to eternal life for those who believe and offers transformation to the world. His friends did not believe it at first, so if we are a little sceptical, we are in good company. But later they had faith sufficient to stake their life on the truth of the resurrection. Faith is needed to believe in Jesus as the Risen Lord for us, too. We have been asking since January “Who is Jesus?” It is Easter that supremely answers that question with the words, he is my Saviour, my Lord and the Risen king!
“Easter changes everything” reads a poster outside one church. Does it change everything for you? As we embrace the truth that we are resurrection people, that we no longer need to fear death, and Jesus is present with us all of the time, a different perspective on life emerges. It changes the way we see ourselves: we are loved and accepted children of God; our ambitions become his ambitions for us for the glory of God’s Kingdom; we are not bound by sinful behaviour and guilt from the past. Jesus, our Saviour, transforms our relationships: with his love in our hearts, we can look to give and not to get; our motives become less selfish; we make time for people and listen to them. In fact, all the areas of our lives: the way we use our time and money; the quest for meaning and beauty and integrity – all transformed by what Jesus has done.
There is so much to think about. We are going to take on this massive and life-changing theme in our church over the next few months. The starting place has to be prayer. Seeking God for our own transformation, that of the church and that of our local community in Walton as a result of his amazing grace.
As part of our “Whole church discipleship”, in our services and House groups in May and June we will be studying prayer and specifically the Lord’s Prayer. There is so much we can learn from this prayer Jesus gave to his friends, even if we have prayed it every day for the last 50 years. Those who don’t currently attend a house group can join one for this period by emailing Cathy. We are excited about the way God is transforming people’s lives in the church and beyond.
Looking further ahead, we see this year as a year of consolidation and beginning the process of building a vision and strategy as aa church. We have identified three Church development goals for the year as encouraged by Bishop Andrew. (The Diocese of Guildford has recently adopted a new strategy: Transforming church transforming lives. (See the article including the 12 goals in this magazine.) Our goals are Discipleship – each of us growing in faith as people of the risen king and seeing God’s transforming impact in our lives; Welcome – encouraging more people to come to church, and going beyond welcoming them at the door to ensuring they are integrated; Community – or belonging – form the survey, we noted that we all want to feel like we belong in our churches: to make friends and be part of a loving community of worshipping people. What does it look like to be church as Jesus intended it? Good question!
One final thought from the next stage in the tree of life from Ken Shigematsu: the next stage up from Roots is Relate. The three parts are Friends, Family and Sexuality. [See diagram in February 2017 edition] This month we will mention Friendship. Many people cite friends as the most significant factor that helped them to come to faith and to keep strong in faith through the ups and downs of life. Ken encourages us to search out a variety of good friends who will care for you, pray for you, listen to you, challenge you and tell you hard truths sometimes, and to whom you can be accountable in times of temptation. Also, someone to whom you can offer all those things reciprocally. Jesus valued his friends so highly he entrusted the future of the kingdom of God on earth to them as he does to us! We need companions for the journey.
Who is Jesus? He is the Risen King. As People of the Risen King, may we allow ourselves to be transformed by the presence of the living God, Father, risen Son and promised Holy Spirit. And may we help one another on this exciting phase on our journey of faith in our own lives and as a church.
Cathy & Jonny