We are well and truly into the season of Easter and the focus of our worship during this time is on the experiences of the first disciples as they encountered the risen Jesus in the weeks leading up to Ascension and Pentecost. It must have been a daunting but exciting time for them – the realisation that something new was happening, the feeling that they weren’t quite sure what it all meant, and prior to Pentecost at least, their apprehension about sharing this news outside of the close circle of fellowship for fear of arrest, persecution and perhaps even death.
It saddens me to think that even today the same plight affects the church in various parts of the world. Over the past few weeks we have seen attacks on Christians in Egypt and Syria and there are many other places, not often mentioned, where worship has to take place in secret for fear of reprisals or attack. Where Easter is a time of celebration and joy for the whole church, we must count ourselves fortunate that we can express this joy freely and enthusiastically whereas others cannot. We must remember all our sisters and brothers in Christ and pray for them and their difficult circumstances.
But I think we must also pray for ourselves – that we might appreciate better the liberty that we do have, and with the Spirit’s help live out our Easter faith in word and deed within our church and in the community. Do we act like those first disciples, fearful of what might happen if we share the good news, or can we have confidence in the Gospel and in our freedom to be Easter people – bringing hope and joy to those who are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives and bringing healing and compassion to the world?
In case you hadn’t already noticed there is going to be a General Election in a little under six weeks’ time. Our ability to vote in a democratic election is another of those freedoms that is denied to millions of people across the world yet turnout in our own elections is surprisingly low. Politicians talk of wanting a Mandate to Govern – but in reality they only have this mandate from a minority of the electorate if past elections are anything to go by. Voter apathy is predicted to be at an all-time high this June but still I would encourage you to get out and exercise your democratic privilege by voting carefully and prayerfully.
We live in uncertain and changing times, nationally and globally – perhaps this is ever the case. As a church we are called to speak, act and pray as we share our hopes for a more peaceful and equal society. Living as people of the Resurrection gives us confidence that the last word belongs to God, and by God’s love and grace the world can be transformed.
The Lord is risen! Alleluia!