Rosemary Whipp writes:
We are living in uncertain times. The routine of our lives has been disrupted and the normal pattern of our days has been shattered. Many of us are isolated and feel slightly lost, maybe even a little frightened about what the future holds.
I think the disciples must have felt much the same after the death of Jesus. Having spent three years following Him, listening to Him and learning of His plans for their future living, the coming of the Kingdom, they are now lost and frightened. Their hopes for this new kingdom shattered and they fear for their lives as the Jewish authorities act against any they can identify as one of His followers. How could life have gone so wrong? What had happened to the vision of the new kingdom? What was going to happen next?
We hear that some of the disciples were gathered together in the Upper Room where only a few days before they had celebrated the Last Supper, the great Passover meal. Huddled together, supporting each other, fearful of the future. Others had scattered around the countryside, going back to their own homes, dismayed at the turn of events, not understanding. Word of the appearances of the Risen Christ would take time to reach people and then they would need to accept the truth of the stories. It must have been very hard for them to accept the changes in their lives, the uncertainty about their future.
We are now living with uncertainty. Over the past weeks life as we have known it has changed totally. The routine of our days has disappeared and for many this has been very unsettling.
Usually our lives follow a routine, some days very formal, others less so. When we have a job it determines the shape of the days, when we get up, leave home, work, arrive home and the times we have for leisure. After retirement the pattern is less set but I think it probably still follows a daily pattern. There are those days of the week where we go to certain activities, play bowls maybe, or bridge. Times when we visit friends, or go to Church. These regular events form the pattern of our days and recently these have disappeared as we have gone into isolation and this is very unsettling. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it difficult to distinguish one day from another. We can no longer pop along to the shops for some forgotten item, call in for a coffee at our favourite cafe or wander round the garden centre imagining our own ‘Wisley’ in our back garden. Neither can we enjoy the company of family or friends. Life has changed and we cannot be certain how long it will be before it returns to normal, if it ever does.
In our Parish we are also facing more uncertainty. This week we officially enter into ‘vacancy’. We say goodbye to Maria, thanking her for the years she has been with us and all she has done for us and wishing her a long and happy retirement and we then enter into another period of uncertainty as we wait to begin the procedures necessary to find a new Vicar to lead us forward into the future. This is always a difficult time of waiting and this time it will be more difficult because of the situation the country is in and we will have to be more patient and wait for things to improve.
So how do we cope with the uncertainty surrounding us these days?
The disciples were reassured by the Risen Christ who showed Himself to them to assure them of His presence always with them and that assurance is for us also. We know that through everything in our lives Christ is with us, the difficult times as well as the good. We don’t need to see Him physically we can feel His presence at all times. He promised that He wouldn’t leave His disciples alone, He would send His Spirit to support them and this He did at Pentecost. The wind and flame of the Holy Spirit changed the disciples from frightened men hiding away to the men who could confidently face the religious leaders of the day and declare the Kingdom was for all people.
This is true for us – we are never alone, although at times we may feel so. We only have to call upon the Holy Spirit to feel the strength and comfort we need. We may be isolated and unable to meet together in a Church building but we are still a Church and we are joined together with the Holy Spirit supporting and strengthening us just as Jesus said He would.
So just as the disciples faced the future renewed and strengthened by the knowledge that Christ was with them always so can we face these uncertain times knowing that even in isolation we are not alone.