A reflection for the 18th April, 2021
Third Sunday in Easter

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Offered for Sunday 18th April 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Third Sunday in Easter'

18th April 2021


A few years ago I managed to tick a box
in my personal 'Bucket List'
I saw one of the over 27,000 plus performances
of Agatha Christies play 'Mousetrap'
in London's West End!
And to keep with the tradition of
seventy years you'll need to torture me
before I tell you 'Who-dun-it!'
However, as I don't like pain,
if you did torture me,
I'd simply capitulate
and pay for your theatre ticket!
Nevertheless, Agatha Christies popularity
as an author in the detective genre
is at its heart a simple conceit!
The detective is able to see and
make sense of what others are
incapable of seeing.
Whether it is the dapper Belgian,
Hercule Poirot,
or the sharp-eyed elderly spinster, Miss Marple,
the heroes of Agatha Christies stories
observes what is really going on,
puts the clues together
and gets to the heart of the truth.
Part of the joy of reading or watching
any detective story is allowing ourselves
to be led to the truth by the person
gifted with wisdom and insight.
While we scratch our heads
and puzzle over the complicated threads
of the case before us,
they untangle the threads
and lay them out carefully.
When the moment comes and the detective
reveals who the perpetrator
of the crime is; and how, exactly,
he or she committed the crime;
everything becomes clear to us too.
We see what we might always have seen,
had we had detective eyes,
the detectives saw what was always there



Let us Pray


Sovereign Lord,
your commission is not a mystery,
you have anointed us with your spirit
and have sent us to preach good news
to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted,
to announce freedom to the captives
and release for the prisoners of darkness;
to proclaim God's grace and his judgement,
to provide for those who mourn.
Bless all to whom we go;
bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of despair;
through us, make them like trees
you have planted,
rooted in righteousness,
that they may display your splendour
'that is always there',
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen



Address


When the scientist Alexander Fleming
accidentally left a dish of bacteria
in his lab uncovered, he returned days later
to the surprising discovery there was
one patch where his bacteria
was not growing.

The cause was the presence of
some fungal mould called
'Penicillin Notatum'.
The mould was producing a substance
with an anti-bacterial action,
which Fleming named penicillin.

Though he published his findings
it was only in the 1930s
a group of American scientists picked up
the incident's full significance,
they saw what was always there.

They went on successfully to produce
penicillin in bulk quantities
and develop life- saving antibiotics.

Penicillin came into its own in World War II,
when it prevented thousands of deaths
from gangrene and infected wounds.

The discovery of an unexpected life form
in a laboratory around ninety years ago
has since transformed medicine,
saved many lives, and given birth
to a whole modern pharmaceutical industry.

The resurrected Jesus makes an unexpected
appearance to the disciples gathered
in one room, it also brings transformation.
By rising, Jesus has transformed death
by turning it from the scourge of humankind
into a defeated enemy, and he comes
to transform the disciples from
a group of people terrified at the
appearance of a "ghost" into the
outspoken witnesses of the
greatest story ever told.

As Jesus appears, the disciples' fear is palpable.
They are already discussing Jesus'
resurrection appearance on the Emmaus road,
but it is one thing to talk about
someone else's experience of God,
and quite another to have a divine
encounter first-hand.

Jesus does not rebuke the disciples
for their fears and doubts.
After all, this is the first time in
humankind's history a resurrected being
has walked the earth.

There is simply no precedent
for what is happening.
In Jesus' resurrection body,
the two dimensions of earth and heaven
are brought together:
Jesus can walk through solid walls,
but also eat fish.

No wonder the disciples can only assume
they are having a supernatural experience.
Jesus simply meets them where they are,
gently helping them to recognise his
identity through the marks on his
hands and side, and
reassuring them of his reality,
as he eats with them and
invites them to touch him.

Having engaged the disciples emotionally
and physically, Jesus also informs their minds.
Though this amazing turn of events
has taken the disciples by surprise,
it is all part of God's plan.

Jesus explains how down the ages God
has spoken through the scriptures of the
forthcoming Messiah's death and resurrection.

Though the disciples may not fully grasp
the exact nature of Jesus' resurrection body,
they can trust that the risen Lord
they see before them,
who has suffered,
died and returned to them,
is fulfilling God's purposes.

As their encounter ends,
the disciples are transformed from
frightened victims to witnesses
of the climax of God's plan
of salvation for all.

This is not a one-off scene of
personal reunion between old friends,
but part of a larger,
developing drama in which the
disciples are involved.

As the story has unfolded down the ages
in God's word and deed,
so now it will spread through space
as the disciples play their part
in proclaiming 'God's Kingdom'
welcome to all who will repent and believe,
starting with Jerusalem and
moving out into the nations.

An experience of the risen Jesus,
whether in our prayers,
worship or everyday activities,
can be unsettling.
It may take us by surprise and
perhaps raise anxieties or doubts.

Jesus does not condemn us
for confusion or uncertainty.
We may need to take time
to read the Bible,
talk with other believers,
or pray quietly as we seek reassurance
and a deeper understanding of how
God is present with us
and at work in our lives.

The extraordinary nature of the resurrection
itself goes beyond ordinary human
understanding, but we do not have to
comprehend an experience to fully
to enter into it,
any more than we need a qualification
in biochemistry to eat a meal.

All we are asked to do is to bear witness
to its reality, believing that what is
beyond our ability to grasp
is held secure in God's hands.

By being willing to take this
step of trust in Jesus' resurrection,
we allow him to transform us,
releasing us from our fears,
and commissioning us to play our part
in his story.

So we, like the disciples,
can tell others 'Jesus is Risen'
and invites them to receive him
into their lives, also.



To Summarise

Jesus' resurrection
means transformation.
The disciples are initially fearful
and confused at Jesus' appearance.
Jesus reassures, teaches and encourages
them as witnesses of his risen reality.
We can be unsettled by
an experience of Jesus.
Though we may not fully
understand the resurrection,
we can trust in its truth and
tell others of the abundant life
Jesus offers to all.



Our Blessing


May the overwhelming magnificence
of God make you breathless with awe;
May the simple gestures of Christ
transform you with love;
May the energising power of the Spirit
give you strength for the task;
And the blessing of God almighty.....


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