Today meditation is offered by Jack Waddington of St David’s. Thank you, Jack.
We plan to restart meditations in St David’s church as of 28th April 11.30am. The first will be led by me. Please join us if you are able. Meditations will continue to appear on the blog as well.
We have just been celebrating once again this last weekend the resurrection of Jesus, though, for the second time, more restrictedly than has been the norm. Now the Easter weekend is over the important questions are: what does the resurrection of Jesus mean to me and to you and how does it affect our lives as we live them day by day in the precise circumstances in which, both individually and collectively, we find ourselves just now? No-one but ourselves can answer that!
When I was a young Christian, in my teens in the late 1950s, I think the resurrection of Jesus meant simply that I believed that death was not the end. Of course, I rejoiced in that but didn’t really think much more about it. Now, over 60 years later, I think I could have a go at writing a book (a shortish one anyway) about what it means to me – but don’t worry, I’m not! I just want to share with you a few random thoughts from my recent ponderings.
1 Corinthians 15 v 13,14 says “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Wow – that’s telling us! Is my faith useless, is yours? That’s not my experience – and I doubt if it is yours either. I believe Jesus rose and I think our faith experiences are both evidence to us and witness to others that he did.
That same chapter tells us that Jesus was the “first fruits” with us to follow later. It is something we rarely discuss openly (a bit strange?) but, in my experience, from talking to others, the two questions most in people’s minds about our resurrection are will we recognise each other and what will our resurrected body be like.
To me, the resurrected body of Jesus gives us the first clues here – there was certainly something different about it! When Mary Magdalene saw him in the garden and when the two disciples walking to Emmaus met him on the way they didn’t recognise him at first and when the disciples were meeting together inside behind locked doors he appeared (a flesh and blood body couldn’t have done this) and yet his resurrected body bore the scars of his physical body. This assures me on the first question: that we shall recognise each other, that it will be obvious that the resurrected body is being inhabited by a recognisable person even if it is not flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15 v 50 : “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”)
What about the second question? 1 Corinthians 15 gives us further clues. From verse 35 it effectively expresses, in what I think are simple and everyday terms, surprise that we might think there is only one kind of body. On reading this recently, my mind went back to an experience I had nearly 25 years ago. To cut a long story short, I found myself in a situation where I felt impelled to volunteer to identify the body of a close friend who had died following a heart attack suffered while helping disabled children to swim at the local baths. At the hospital, in the room where the body lay, I was asked if I would like a few minutes alone with him. As I looked at his body I had an overwhelming feeling that I was looking at an empty shell – I just knew my friend wasn’t there and declined the offer. While I can’t envisage what it will be like I have no difficulty in believing that sometime after death I will have a “new” body to live in. So, what will it be like?
Verses 42 – 44 tell us it will be “raised imperishable…… raised in glory……raised in power……raised a spiritual body” and in verse 49 : “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man”, i.e. JESUS. Isn’t that wonderful? Doesn’t it give you confidence about the future?
Of course, as verse 12 of chapter 13 tells us “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror” and “now I know in part” only. Yes, now we still live in the flesh and blood world with all its problems, both personal and otherwise and, yes, they do have a real effect on us, on our moods and our feelings (just as they did with Jesus), and on our behaviour too (not so, I think, with Jesus). But let us remember: spiritually, as Christians, we have already been “born again” into a life directly connected to God, i.e. an imperishable (eternal) life and because of that can already “know in part” at least something of that glory and power which one day we shall know fully. And let us remember also that the fruits of the Spirit (God’s personal gifts of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control Galatians 5 v 22-23) are ours now for the taking to help us on our way.
Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Eternal and Ever-Loving God,
It was your love for us that sent Jesus to the Cross and it was your power that raised him from the dead.
Help us to so open ourselves up to you that we may experience that love and that power in our lives, whatever our current circumstances, so that we may be a witness to others that Christ has risen and is present amongst us. Amen