|Published by Rev'd Tif Ewins on Sun, 26 Apr 2020 11:16|
At various times in our lives James and I have come up with kind of mission or purpose statements for ourselves and our family. The reason for this has usually been to help us make decisions and focus in time of change or pressure. We took time to read the Bible to pray (importantly very often with others not just alone) to work out what the big YES in us was so that we felt confident to say little no’s.
This week I re-looked at our values as a church as I wanted to be confident that in this crisis we were still focussing on what God has called us to. From that I wrote a little statement that I put on the website to remind me, and you, and those who visit why we are doing what we are doing and why we are not doing other things. You can see it on the homepage.
I partly went through this exercise because of a brief conversation I had with a woman I see most days on the common. She told me something and my reaction was to compare myself to another, to see another person as a competitor and to judge myself as a failure.
I am aware that comparison is a killer and that if we don’t have a sense of our God given purpose then we can become overwhelmed or jealous or overworked or, in a number of ways, unhinged.
The story of the two disciples walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) starts with two people who have lost their purpose. Having been disciples of Jesus they have been in Jerusalem with him over the events of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and finally saw or heard from eyewitnesses that Jesus had been crucified. He was dead.
Their purpose had been killed, they thought. They had loved Jesus and had found life in being with Him and sharing in the hope for the Kingdom to come that Jesus brought.
They left Jerusalem and walking and talking, they were going over and over things together. I bet they said things like “It is what it is, I suppose.” And "We are going to have to find a new normal."
A stranger joins them, and they unguardedly tell him what they are talking about. How sad and disappointed and confused they are. But the stranger, as we know is Jesus, and He takes them back to the Bible. A book they knew well and beginning with the story of God giving the task of freeing His people from slavery to a morally questionable stuttering prince turned shepherd called Moses, Jesus reminds them of God’s action in the world. Action that is always in partnership with His creatures. Mostly creatures who do not think themselves capable of the purpose God invites them into. These are individuals, families, nations. Poor, rich, children, adults, of numerous races tribes and tongues, men, women and eunuchs, Jew, Gentile, animals, sea creatures, trees, rivers and rocks are all involved – all have a purpose in God’s story of loving and saving the world.
Jesus gives the wandering, unhinged disciples their purpose back. He does it by revealing it in a moment of hospitality as Jesus give thanks for, blesses, breaks and shares bread. In this Jesus reminds them that their purpose is to be oriented by Jesus' life in them. They are to be thankful, a blessing to the world, pointing others to the broken and risen Jesus and sharing His love wherever they go.
After meeting with Jesus they go back to Jerusalem (in the dark!) to rejoin their friends and to be part of the baby church as it proclaims that God so loved the world the Jesus came, lived, died and rose again.
Some of us are working hard, some are schooling children, some of us are wondering what will be left of what sustains us after this is over. So I have a task for all of us this week. I would like us to read this passage again and then go for a walk.
I want us to say as we leave the house “Jesus please come with me on this walk.” Then I want us to tell him everything that is bothering you, giving you joy, confusing you, messing with your head in the most minute detail. Not loud, but not in your head; actually form the words. Then say, "What do you think of all that, Jesus?" and keep walking as you listen.
You might want to take a notebook with you or your phone on do not disturb, to record your impressions as they come to you. Because I am confident if we do this with openness and a curious spirit, Jesus will meet with us and reveal to us our purpose maybe just for this week, maybe for this crisis or maybe, like Moses or these disciples it will frame the rest of our lives.
The other task I have for is us to take our Bible reading seriously. Bishop Graham Tomlin said recently although not all of us are called to be theology graduates, “It is incumbent on all of us to do as much as we can to be good readers of the Bible.” He then went on to say that reading around the Biblical text, using commentaries, using Bible notes are all great ways to do this, but he emphasised that so too is reading the Bible with others so that it is not just our own impressions and opinions we are hearing. Please remember the Monday Bible Study is a chance to do just that. We read with Bible notes looking closely at the text and listening to each other. Why not join in if you can at 9.30?
So two things
1.Go for a walk with Jesus and
2. make some plan to read the Bible this week, ideally with others involved.
Let’s review our purpose, get re-hinged if we need to be, and remember that being loved by God, returning that love enjoying God forever is the chief end that makes us human.