Pastoral Letter 5

PASTORAL LETTER.                     24th May 2020

Jesus said “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20)

This is the last verse of Matthew’s Gospel and the last words of Jesus to His disciples as He ascended into Heaven. This last Thursday was Ascension Day and a good day to remind ourselves that we have, not just a risen Lord, but an Ascended and Glorified Lord. Jesus is, even now, sitting on the right-hand side of God in Heaven: loving and thinking and praying for each one of us. We do indeed have a friend, not only in high places, but also in the highest place of all. 

Thinking about high places, it is true that hills and mountains play a major part in Scripture both in the Old and New Testaments. Moses spoke with God and received The 10 Commandments on the summit of Mount Sinai: Jesus preached to the crowds from a hill side when He delivered The Sermon on The Mount: it was on a high mountain that Jesus was transfigured in the presence of His disciples and the voice of God was heard saying “This is My Son, My beloved, in whom I am well pleased”: and, it was from a mountain top, that Jesus ascended to His Father in Heaven. 

What is it about mountains that make them so special from a spiritual perspective? 

Firstly, they are places of mystery and isolation. I’ve never been up a mountain yet which has been crowded (not that I’ve been up many I must admit!) Few people go there and hardly anyone ever makes their home there. It takes a lot of effort to reach the top and so it’s a test of commitment. The tops of mountains are often covered in low hanging cloud and mist which adds to their air of mystery. When Jesus ascended into Heaven it is said that a cloud hid Him from their sight. A mountain top experience is an awesome and other-worldly experience: a big step from normal, everyday, activity. 

So, why do we make the effort? 

Well, secondly, because the view from the top is fantastic and like no other. I’m sure that most of us have probably, at some time or other, walked to the top of The Malverns and have been rewarded with that phenomenal view! On a clear day you can see for many miles: as far as The Welsh Border and beyond. You can’t experience this by remaining at ground level.

I’m sure that this is part of the reason why Jesus often sought out isolated and high places to speak with God: yes, He was looking heavenward to God but His eyes of love gazed at each and all of us who inhabit the lowlands. I’m sure you’ll have all heard the phrase “he was so heavenly minded that he was of no earthly good.” Well, that could never be said of Jesus because His whole and sole purpose was to minister to all of us who are struggling through life on earth with all of its joys and sorrows. When you climb to the top of a hill or mountain then the people below become tiny specks like ants or they become invisible to the naked eye. This is not true with Jesus whose eyes and heart of love can see into every living soul and into everyone’s situation. He can see you right now. We may be social distancing from each other but there is no distancing from God and the love that He has for you. You can try and move away from Him (which is technically impossible although we sometimes try our best!) but GOD WILL NEVER DISTANCE HIMSELF FROM YOU. 

Yes, there is a tremendous view from the mountain top but even that cannot compare with the view that Jesus now has as our Ascended Lord. You imagine how our earth and our individual lives appear from Heaven! You can say that now He has the drop on every one of us but not in a condemning or judgemental way but always in a loving, forgiving, supportive and healing way. He literally carries your life and soul into the loving heart of your Father God and His sacrificial heart of love continues to beat for you.

When Jesus walked as a man here on earth He was constrained by time and space: in other words, He could only be in one place at a time. But, now, as our living and ascended Lord He is everywhere, for all time, with each and every one of us. He has ascended way beyond the top of even the highest mountain and has left behind the boundaries and constraints of earth. His love for you is both universal and eternal and nothing, certainly no earthly virus, can separate you from it. 

And so, as we remain largely in our homes, distanced even from those we love, perhaps beginning to take our first few tentative steps outside, lets continue to remember and to say thank you to the God who walks alongside us, who feels and knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities: a God who is our constant friend and loving companion along life’s journey: a journey that leads us to the top of that mountain of love and beyond, to the bliss of Heaven and the everlasting joy, peace and love that is God’s eternal promise and gift to each and all of us.   Amen.

Please remember that our Mission Family is still here for you in thought, prayer and practical support if you need it. Never be hesitant to ask if you need anything including a familiar and kindly voice. No one is forgotten and everyone is loved.

Take care, keep your chins up, stay safe and well and may you have real peace in the knowledge of God’s love for you.

Love and Blessings from Peter 

 


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