Thoughts for May 2020
A matter of death and life
How the world seems to have changed in recent weeks. Normality, whatever that is, will return, but for now life is problematic; life may even seem cruel. I write on the day of my aunt`s funeral. Catherine, `Kitty` was my mum`s younger sister. The family are unable to attend the funeral. I will be watching online. Elsewhere my mum and dad will be watching online. My sister an essential worker, will watch online later. These are strange times and we are all having to get used to new and challenging ways of doing things.
Where is God in all of this? It`s an obvious question and a really important one. But first let`s dismiss something that I heard a couple of weeks ago. “This is God`s punishment” claimed one individual. I can only suggest that this man worships a different God to the one I know. My God does not punish, He is loving, faithful, merciful and compassionate. So then, where is He? And why is there so much suffering due to the current virus?
We may never know the answer to the second of these questions. What we can say is that throughout the Bible there is a record of God, from time to time, allowing terrible things to happen to His people. In retrospect they may, or may not, see a wisdom in what happened; they may see themselves in a different way or may learn something important. Will it be the same for us? Perhaps we will seek God to ask the difficult questions and in doing so discover new and richer resources of love and mercy in His presence. Perhaps we will re-evaluate our lives and ask what`s really important to us. Perhaps we will realise that we have created God in our own image and that in reality He is not who we thought He was. We may never fully understand “Why?” but one thing is for sure - unless we ask the questions it is certain we will not find any answers.
Perhaps, the first question is easier to address? Where is God? The answer- He is right in the midst of the suffering, alongside people, nearer than any of us can possibly imagine. We have just experienced Easter. The cross shocks us. It is not what we would expect from an all-powerful God. When the long-anticipated Christ came, He came to suffer and to die and this was so unexpected that many failed to recognise Him. The message of Easter is that we have a God who conquers through love and faithfulness- and He acts for us. God never forces anyone to obey or even acknowledge Him; He honours our choices, even if that is to reject Him. However, in faithfulness, God eagerly waits for us, He seeks reconciliation. He wants us to find Him and build a relationship with Him.
Of course, Easter is also about the resurrection. Death could not hold Jesus. He rose victorious and offers new life to all who trust in Him, those who are willing to become His disciples. The promise of Easter is that life, in God`s presence, is available to us all. And this is not just about what happens when we die, it is very much for now! Life `in Christ` may continue after death but is absolutely meant to start before death.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. We celebrate this at Pentecost, also known as Whitsun. (May 31st this year) What does this mean? Who is the Holy Spirit? Space does not permit an answer to these questions now… we`ll return to them next month.
Services at NMC during May:
It is usual for the NMC article to conclude with details of our services. In the current situation there are no services taking place week by week. There are however many resources available to anyone online, including live and/or recorded services.
on behalf of
Nettleham Methodist Church