In the beginning – in the end – in between … God
In John’s Gospel we are told that, after his resurrection, Jesus came amongst his disciples in the upper room. As he appeared to them, he greeted them with the words ‘Peace be with you’ and breathed a Spirit of holiness upon them. (John 20:19-31).
The disciples had been hiding away for fear of the authorities. They were filled with confusion after the Crucifixion of the one whom they believed would liberate them. They were grieving the loss of their dear friend. And Jesus came into their midst with his word of peace and his Spirit of holiness.
The world seems to be in a state of confusion. People live with fear and discord. We live amidst political uncertainty, economic confusion, social discord, rumours of war and threats of terror. In the face of such a world, it would be easy for us to become like those first disciples – paralysed by fear and confused about what we believe.
The point of having celebrated Easter is that we too can hear that word of peace and receive that Spirit of Holiness. Christian faith is not an inanimate faith, but is a living faith. Christian faith is not an historic memory but a present reality. The resurrection is not an event for back then, but is a reality for today.
Yes, the world is a places in turmoil, life seems to be filled with challenge and we seem to be surrounded by tragedy. Actually, it probably always was so. The difference for today is that modern media and communications makes us more aware, more quickly, of the situation on a bigger scale. Life is life and, in the midst of life, God is God. Into the midst of life, the risen Christ comes and stands with us. He shows us the scars of his human experience. He offers his word of peace. He breathes the Spirit of holiness upon us.
In receiving that peace, we are enabled to feel things differently. Through that Spirit of holiness, we are enabled to live lives differently. That is not to say that life will not be a challenge. That is not to say that we will not suffer trials and tribulations. That is not to say that the world will no longer be in turmoil. We know that is not and will not be the case. But we will be different.
The difference in us will be the difference we see in those first disciples. We shall know in whom we believe. We shall know that we are not alone. We shall recognise that God is in our midst and, through the scars of his human experience, walks alongside us as we too suffer the scars and scrapes of everyday living.
The difference in us will be the difference we see in those first disciples. We shall know that this is not all that there is. We shall know that we only glimpse dimly and know partly, but one day shall see and know fully. We shall know that as with Christ all die, so in Christ all shall be alive – scars and all. We shall know that our celebration of Easter is not just a commemoration of a long-past event but is the announcement of a present reality. With Julian of Norwich we shall know, and announce, that “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”.
Did you ever see the film ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’? The hotel manager, Sonny Kapoor, is heard to make a profound statement. “In the end everything will be alright. If it is not yet alright, then it is not yet the end.”.
In the beginning – God. In the end – God. In between – God. So, peace be with you.