7 June 2020
God of spring and God of summer:
the first cutting has occurred
and the crows are picking through
the heaps, looking out for harvesters
who will arrive to scoop them up.
The beauty of these long rows draws
our eyes up and our minds back
to what has happened
these last few months.
We ask that you would be with us
as we consider what we’ve lost
but also what we’ve found.
May we mark these moments well.
The birds see now the value
of what can feed many
through the winter.
© 2020 The Corrymeela Community
This week’s reading comes from the very end of Matthew’s gospel, one last post- resurrection story. As we heard on Easter Sunday, the women have already been and gone to the empty tomb, and are now rushing away to bring the message with which they have been entrusted to the other disciples.
But Matthew suddenly interrupts himself in the telling with a bizarre little story of an attempt to cover up the scandal of the empty tomb. When the very guards who had been instructed to secure and seal the tomb realise they have been outwitted, the religious leaders fear that word of this security breach will get out. So the guards are paid to blame themselves, and the leaders promise to cover for them.
Apparently it works, as the story invented by the guards is still circulating, decades later, or so Matthew tells us.
But the story, placed deliberately right here, reminds us of something else. It reminds us that if you aren’t looking for resurrection, or if it would be very inconvenient for you to see signs of resurrection, then you probably won’t see them. And if you want to ensure that no one else catches glimpses of them either, you tell your story in a way which leaves them out. Nothing to see here. Move along, now. Today they would call it fake news.
But it’s in the wake of this odd little attempt to direct people’s attention elsewhere that Matthew returns to his story. And here, in the final scene of the gospel, Jesus does some redirecting of his own.
For now, at last, the disciples have received the message brought to them by the women. And as instructed, they are returning to Galilee. They are going to the mountain where Jesus had once set out a path, a new direction for them; to the mountain on which Jesus had begun his ministry to them.
The mountain on which they first heard him say wonderful and impossible things like:
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find.
And now, on that same mountain, the risen Jesus stands before them. They recognise him immediately, and worship him, though they surely have their hesitations, their doubts.
But Jesus doesn’t address their doubts. He simply directs them once again, and sends them out with a task: to add to their own number. To make more disciples. To bring others into the community, baptising them. And to entrust others with the same way of life which Jesus has already entrusted to them, and now also to us.
And there, among the hesitant entrusted, the risen Christ promises to find us. Oh, and one more thing, Jesus says, and they are the last words of the gospel: I am with you always, to the end of the age.
It sounds like reassurance, and it is, but it is much more than that. The risen Jesus is telling us what not to overlook, where to focus.
For it is only in the faces of others that we will see and encounter the One who ministers to them and also to us, the hesitant entrusted. It is only in entrusting ourselves and this gospel life more widely to one another that we will know the presence of the risen Christ.
If we are willing to look, the risen Christ has told us where we will see him. And it is our turn now, to tell the story, in which signs of resurrection are everywhere.
And to God alone be the glory.
Reflection © 2020 Christ Church, Sandymount
God Calls Me
I’ve included a freebie I received this week – intended as a colouring page for both children and adults, which, if you are so inclined, encourages quiet reflection on how you might be hearing and responding to God’s call at this particular time in your life. Some people find that doing things with their hands while engaging in any kind of reflection or prayer frees up their imagination and attention in a way that just sitting still does not, just as some of us are best at working through difficult or complicated personal struggles when we are walking rather than still.So if you or anyone you know might be drawn to this, it’s yours – and you are free to share it widely.
It can also be downloaded by clicking the image above or bu picking on this link.