May Magazine Foreword

Dear Friends,

The post Easter days must have been an enormous learning curve for the disciples, and necessarily so, as they learnt what living life in the strength of the risen Christ was all about. We saw the huge change in Peter in our reading last Sunday from the frightened man so fearful of his own skin that he denied he even knew Jesus; to the man who took on the authorities and was not afraid to tell them where the real power lay, and what they were responsible for doing. Our Easter Eucharistic prayer touches on this in two passages, “From the Garden the mystery dawned, that he, whom they had loved and lost, is with us now, in every place, for ever” and “Making himself known in the breaking of the bread, speaking peace to the fearful disciples, welcoming weary fishers on the shore, he renewed the promise of his presence, and of new birth in the Spirit”. The disciples had to learn that Jesus was now with them in a new way, and would be, for always.

The change of tense in the first passage I quote always sends shivers down my spine; it’s such an amazing statement, “he, whom they had loved and lost is with us now, in every place, forever”. The final outcome of the resurrection was not that they had lost Jesus, for ever, which seemed at first to be the case, but that he was with them in a completely new way, supporting them with his presence, even when they couldn’t see him, everywhere, all the time. He began to teach them this as he appeared unexpectedly in places when they weren’t expecting him, on the road to Emmaus, in the upper room, by the seashore, reassuring them, helping them to believe the promise that he would be with them always “to the end of the age”.

One of the significant things about many of Jesus’ resurrection appearances was that, very often, the disciples didn’t, at first, recognise him, Mary thought he was the gardener; the two on the Emmaus road talked with him along the journey, and didn’t recognise him until he broke the bread; the disciples in the upper room were terrified and thought they had seen a ghost. There was a hiddenness about the resurrected Jesus that there had not been about the Jesus who walked the roads of Palestine. He was not so immediately obvious. I think that has much to say to us; there is a hiddenness in the Jesus we meet in our lives. It is very easy for us not to recognise him when we meet him on the road, in the garden, or in the house; in the people we meet or in the situations which we encounter. We have to work at it, and very often it doesn’t come easily; but the effort is very much worth it!

As we join the millions who through the ages have been followers of The Way, as the first Christians were called, we, like them, sometimes lose sight of Jesus, and lose the way for a while, sometimes with disastrous consequences, as history shows us, but, as Jesus taught the disciples, that is not the end, there is always the promise of his presence, to lead us back to The Way, if we are willing to be led.

May your Easter-tide be full of joy.

Love and prayers,