Reflections by Revd. Mike Loader, Assistant Priest
It was so lovely to come back home to Tavistock some four years ago after fourteen years teaching abroad in Jerusalem, Kenya and Cyprus, but there is one big thing that I miss so much, the clear blue skies. I expect that could also be true for many of you as well, even if it may have been after just a couple of weeks away on a Mediterranean holiday. Exposure to the clear blue sky seems to elevate our souls and raise the spirits.
We have just spent some weeks together celebrating Passiontide, Easter and the Ascension, the most dramatic six weeks of human history. A time when God reset the story of human life upon this earth and gave to us the great hope of life with Him for evermore. A hope of sharing with the Holy Trinity the realised dream of eternal life in a transformed body and in a transformed universe. Now that hope should be enough to raise anyone’s spirit.
I remember during my two years in Jerusalem at the end of the nineties walking the few miles from the Old City and up the steep path to the top of the Mount of Olives. There I entered a small ‘chapel’ that commemorates the Ascension. Can you imagine the mixed emotions that those earliest of disciples must have experienced when standing there with Jesus. Perhaps they were even joined by the friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus from the village of Bethany just a short walk further on. They had hoped that Jesus was the one to deliver Israel (Luke 24v22), that he was the long promised Messiah. But what had they seen instead?
Jesus had been crucified, their hopes dashed and they had fled and deserted him (Matthew 26v56). Then on that first Easter morning the unbelievable stories of the women began to circulate among them; ‘He is not here but risen’ (Luke 24v6) was the message given by the Angels.
Then the disciples began to gather again on that first Easter evening, and probably in that same upper room in which they had shared the parting Passover meal with their Lord on the Tuesday evening (a study on that chronology is well worth while). But fear was still in their hearts as we read “the doors were locked for fear of the Jewish authorities” (John 20v19).
You can imagine that what happened next is of special interest to me as a Physicist. Jesus appears in their midst, not as a ghost but in a resurrected body and says “Peace be with you” (John 20v19). “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord”.
Such swings in their emotions in such a short period of time. “He really is alive; it is just as He told us, after three days I will rise from the dead” (Luke 18v33). And what an amazing privilege we have in sharing with those chosen disciples that same hope of living a resurrected life with our Lord. But even more than that.
Forty days later came the Ascension and the promise that, as Jesus was going to the Father’s side, He would send us the comforter, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1v4). All the disciples had to do was to have patience and wait. And that is the same for you and me in our discipleship and walk with Jesus today. Many times we have to have patience and wait on God’s timing in our lives. Our emotions may have to pass through many changes, but we too have that same promise that can be realised in our lives, the promise of the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are not just an Easter people, we are a Pentecost people.
The Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus has given to us a new peace and joy as we live in a transforming relationship with our Lord, and as we continue to exercise our faith and trust in Him. May our lives show that transformation to our families, friends and neighbours who have yet to walk with Jesus on the road to Emmaus or encounter Him on the road to Damascus.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus help us to drink abundantly of His life-giving Holy Spirit.