The last two Mondays have been interesting and I wanted to share two stories. Last Monday God carved out a quiet time and place to speak to me about Resurrection and Life, then all week prompted me to live it not write about it. This Monday He created an opportunity to do just that.
I have not seen my Mother since the summer. So when she said she was coming to Windsor I felt more than prompted to see her. I rearranged the day and made the hour trip whilst she was closer to go and spent some time with her. I waited in a cafe at the arranged time and texted to say I was there. ‘Oh I’m not coming today’. Quite the mix up and I’d felt such an urgency to be there so my question was,’What have you brought me here for Jesus? order my steps.’
I found a tourist map in the town and a place ‘jumped’ out at me, so I went to St George’s chapel and sat in the pews. The place is full of history, icons, beautiful windows, an intricate alter, a choir stall where the music of voices is stunning, a restful stillness too despite so many people milling around. But visually, the overriding feature is tomb stones and caskets and relics of the dead. Everywhere I walked was another stone or vault opening to where someone was buried. Just death everywhere. A bit like 2016 really where it seems every week comes the announcement that another famous person has died. Today all over the news is the tragic reminder of how 96 football fans, (actually sons, daughters, wife’s husbands, friends, loved ones) died at Hillsborough 27 years ago. Death seems very present. As I made my way out of the chapel near the exit was a place to pause and reflect, leave a prayer request or kneel and pray. On this last table, next to a stunning arrangement of yellow roses was a colourful tapestry with flowers and butterflies interwoven in the words that were stitched into the fabric. It read: I AM the resurrection and the Life.
It was only a few months ago I took my daughter to Coventry for a university interview and spend the day in Coventry Cathedral in the Chapel of Unity whilst I waited. The chapel is built in a round with an amazing mosaic floor that is slightly dipped at the centre. The central design reflects the Spirit and it evokes the response that everything gets pulled into the centre abiding in Spirit and Truth at the core. During the day I gave thanks for Stephen Verney, a wonderful man of God whose books and revelation have inspired me. He had played an important role when the cathedral had been rebuild and had served there for 12 years. In the midst of such tradition, this man had a vision and heart for Jesus that was and still is, quite profound. All this came to mind because after Coventry, Verney moved to St George’s, Windsor. It was only this last week in a conversation the comment was made, ‘How Verney lived his revelation in 1975 I’ll never know! So I’m sat there in St George’s seeing tradition, history, fascinating architecture, visitors and death pondering; How did he? How did he see Jesus when he was surrounded by all this external stuff: by death?
As I meditated the stories of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; appearing to Mary in the garden; the disciples in the upper room; Celophas on the road to Emmaus and Simon Peter on the beach, all I could see was how Jesus brought LIFE to them in their own personal death. Physical death, death of expectations, death of fear, death of disappointment, death of failure. Death is exactly where we’ll find Jesus in all the pain, grief, confusion, emotions and mess. In those dark places Jesus bursts out. It’s exactly where He brings LIFE. We talk about Easter morning but Jesus rose in the darkness of night. When it was still dark they approached the tomb and found it empty. Light is not overcome but darkness It’s exactly where He shines.
That light and life of the resurrection is personal- Jesus calls Mary’s name. It’s practical – Thomas gets to touch the reality of it, Simon is given a complete do over around another charcoal fire with 3 more questions for restoration.. And it’s meant to be practiced and by that I’m thinking about the definition
- to perform
- to exercise (an act) repeatedly in order to acquire
- actively pursue
- be engaged in
- draw on
- bring into play
Life, Jesus’ Life is meant to be all of this in light of the resurrection. If I’m honest all week I wanted to write about it and be all erudite about the revelation I felt I had ( I know-!!!) and God kept stirring not to write and think about it but live it: Implement Jesus’ Life; enjoy Him and engage in all the goodness.
My husband is on a mission trip and when he’s away I step in to lead regular meetings he has. This Monday was a service at a local residential care home. Naturally I chose resurrection and Life as my thought for the day. I’d prepared how it is personal and in the same way Jesus called Mary’s name He calls ours-Jesus knows our name. An hour before the meeting the home rang- a resident had died and been cremated. She had no friends or family and the ashes were to be scattered in the garden of peace at the home. Could I do the interment whilst I was there that morning? In the short time I had I spoke to some of the staff about the lady that had died, prayed and asked Jesus to give me the right words. Here God had created an opportunity that in the face of death He wanted to speak Life. He’d already prepared the message, and personal nature of the gospel in my preparation. So as we stood in the garden remembering the details of Kathleen’s life, known and unknown, we shared the Life of Jesus together. Kathleen had parents, a childhood, hobbies and a work life I know nothing about apart from the RAF. We acknowledged that no family were present – not because she was alone but because she had been blessed with a long life. We gave thanks for her grateful heart that expressed her thanks to the staff who cared for her regularly. We gave thanks for the dignity and care the staff provided that evidently went beyond their ‘duties’. I was able to share how in death God is about Life.. we honoured the moment of her final resting place but also shared the truth of who Jesus was. Kathleen had opened a door for fresh seeds of LIFE to be planted. That’s practicing resurrection. In the realities of death and everyday life, Jesus’ Life stands out as hope, joy, peace and comfort. Death is all around and present but so is LIFE
“LIFE is what we believe in, not death. Life is happening every day, not just death. We can be part of that life. We can share the life! We are moulded by the Potter to become resurrection vessels, bearers of the Good News, to share life in a world full of death. Will we hold onto the ashes of Friday or gather the lilies of Sunday? Step away from the tomb and spread the Word. He is risen – Life is here”
When I went home.,I sat praying thanking God for the beautiful picture the two Mondays had been and helping me through what had been a ‘first’ in terms of internment. One Monday I’m given some time alone with God to look afresh at the resurrection and see how out of the victory Jesus had that first Easter morning He shares it with me because He calls my name. But just like with Mary He says ‘Go tell ….’ so the next Monday out of the Life He’s given me I’m able to share it. Jesus resurrects us and gives life so we can go and share it with others. The Life that flows through who He is flows to us fills us up then flows out to others. Life is an ever flowing stream to practice resurrection and LIFE. It’s like the floor of the Chapel of Unity- everything revolves around Him and gets sucked into His LIFE.
Lets practice resurrection more and be open to sharing LIFE with those we meet.