Church of England Diocese of Leicester Burbage with Aston Flamville

Sunday 19th April - Reflection

19 Apr 2020, 11 a.m.

THE STATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION

No.3 - JOHN 20 3-8

Reading: A reading from the Gospel according to John (20.3-8)

Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.

Here we are a week after Easter, and we should be enjoying the joy of knowing the resurrection has changed our lives and we should be enjoying the beautiful Spring. Well, as much as we try, the shadow of the coronavirus is not far from our minds, which has taken the shine off our “normal” thanksgivings and celebrations. But perhaps our normal celebrations now are a bit different from what happened at the time of the resurrection. The resurrection was a time of shock, disbelief, insecurity, and incomprehension. There is no mention of chocolate, flowers, or Easter bunnies in the Bible.

As we progress through the Stations of the Resurrection we will journey with the disciples through this amazing but challenging time as they witnessed it, from when the power of God the Father releasing His Son, Jesus Christ from the tomb, to Jesus's ascension. We then remain with the disciples as they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and finally, we witness Jesus coming to Saul, an enemy of the first Christians, to use him as the great evangelist Paul to build up the Church.

On Easter Sunday we heard the story of Mary Magdalene finding the empty tomb and in panic running to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple who Jesus loved (thought to be the writer, John). They then run to the tomb and the other disciple outruns Simon Peter, but he was hesitant to enter the tomb, but just looked and saw the linen body wrappings. Simon Peter then arrives and enters the tomb and sees the wrappings and finally the other disciple enters. What was going through their minds at that time is hard to imagine. After the arrest, trial and crucifixion of the man who they had followed through his ministry, they must have been in quite a state of confusion, and for Simon Peter, guilt for having denied he knew Jesus. Yet the final verse of this passage states firmly the other disciple saw and believed.

The two disciples were very different, Simon Peter, was I believe, an extrovert man who threw himself into whatever he was doing, sometimes being headstrong and sometimes showing more confidence than he actually owned. This confidence was to dramatically change when it was empowered by Jesus's later charge to Simon Peter “to feed my sheep” and by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In my opinion, the other disciple, let us call him John was a quieter introvert man, a man just entrusted to care for Mary, Jesus's mother. He was obviously a great thinker who in his later writings gave us the most important theological oversight of the life of Christ. So, we have two very contrasting men witnessing the most extraordinary event, two men who then through their faith in the Resurrected Lord were to change the world.

So here we are a week after Easter, wondering why all this coronavirus business has happened, and why it has upset our “normal” Easter celebrations. The first Station of the resurrection from St. Matthew's Gospel tells of an earthquake rolling the stone away from the tomb. I wonder if any of you have ever been present during an earthquake of any significance. When we see terrible destruction in different parts of the world, we feel sorry for people and then generally get on with our lives. In this country a small earthquake that rattles a few chimney pots usually gets headlines in the media, but even a small earthquake can be frightening. I remember when I was a curate in Wood End in Coventry there was an earthquake in Shropshire on the 2nd April 1990, measuring 5.1 on the Richter Scale and it is the only time I can remember really feeling the earth move under my feet. It was most disconcerting for a few seconds as we usually think that the ground under us is our sure foundation.

St. Matthew is keen in his Gospel to dramatise the death and resurrection of Jesus with darkness, earthquakes, and the tearing of the temple curtain. Matthew was emphasising that signs from God signifying his power were always greater than anything mankind could do, even when mankind was trying to kill his beloved Son.

We must remember that although we think that we are very clever in our modern world, our lives are very vulnerable in so many ways. For that reason, for Christians every day must be an Easter Day. Though the earth shakes under our feet we are still saved by God's power and love, brought about by the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Christ is our sure foundation, lets run the race of life with him as our goal.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – and smile for the day.

Before you criticize someone, you should run a mile in their shoes.

That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Fr Terry