Pastoral Letter 2


PASTORAL LETTER 2         3rd May 2020

Jesus walked alongside them on the Road to Emmaus" (Luke 24)

The reading for last Sunday was The Road to Emmaus which tells of two disciples walking to this village who are met and accompanied by the Risen Jesus who has been raised from the dead. I recommend that you read this passage for yourself. Although the village of Emmaus was only a few kilometres from Jerusalem, it must have seemed a long road indeed because the two disciples were weighed down with questions and confusion over what had happened recently in Jerusalem. They recounted how Jesus, on whom they had pinned their hopes as Messiah, had been betrayed and put to death and yet now there were rumours circulating that He had been raised from the dead, was alive, and had even been seen by some of the other disciples. They just didn't know who or what to believe!

When you think about it, it sounds just like us at the moment doesn't it? When will the lockdown end? How safe will it be to go out? How contagious is the virus? Is it airborne? What will life be like afterwards? What about my livelihood? Hundreds of questions but no definitive answers. And then the biggest question of all, "why has my loved one been taken? why and where did it come from and why has it touched my own life?" I think that we can all agree that it's not easy to hold all these questions in your head and heart and yet keep walking along the path of your life from day to day: the same old footsteps in the same old direction until it's difficult to remember even what day it is because they've all merged into one! Waiting is never easy but waiting with a load of unanswered, and even unanswerable questions, is often excruciating.

The two disciples on that Emmaus Road were no different from us. It often takes trauma to remind ourselves of what we don't like to be reminded of: that, as human beings, we're very fragile, vulnerable, unable to understand or control everything, weak, and mortal. A tiny speck in a vast never ending Universe.

And the thing that made all the difference on that Emmaus Road was when Jesus joined them and walked alongside. They didn't recognise Him, of course, even though they'd known Him for years because their heads and hearts were too full and heavy. All their dreams had not come true and they problem never even glanced at the stranger who had joined them but kept their heads lowered. In any case it might be dangerous to talk to strangers and it was safer to engage in social distancing! (Ring any bells?) But even here there's a bit of humour as they ask Him if He's the only person who doesn't know what's been happening recently! A bit like asking God whether He's heard about Corona Virus!

The lesson here for us is that Jesus is with each one of us on our journey whether we know it or not or even want to know it. Jesus never conforms to social distancing rules even with those who blame or reject Him. He loves you too much for that. He helps us carry our heavy loads and shares them with us. As I wrote last week, we may be in lockdown but God can never be locked out of our lives. He journeys with you even when you're in isolation for there is no place on this earth where you can be without God and His Love for you. This virus will pass however long it takes to go but God and His love lasts for ever. "Come to Me" said Jesus "all you who carry heavy loads and I will refresh you." He said it and He means it.

The Emmaus Road has a beautiful ending: Jesus makes as to go on with His journey but the disciples ask Him to stay with them for the night. Jesus does not refuse the invitation: He never does. Try it and see for yourself. And it isn't until He breaks bread with them, as He did at the Last Supper, that their eyes are opened and they recognise Him. It is in the intimacy of a shared meal that Jesus is recognised. And suddenly He disappears from their sight!

Jesus is gone from them but is never far away. We may not see Him with our eyes but we can know Him in our hearts. He's with you now, right in the middle of this lockdown and He will remain with you for all time both in this world and the world to come.

Do not let your hearts be troubled" said Jesus "trust in God and trust also in Me."

I'll write again next week. In the meantime I'll continue to contact you by phone and please know that I'm here if you need me. Keep safe and keep well and may our steps be lighter as we travel this path together. Love and Blessings to each and all of you.

from Peter


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