Rector's May 2015 Letter

‘Do Not Be Afraid’

The fifty days after Easter reflect the period of time in which Jesus, having risen from the dead, was able to be present with his disciples in a way which was different from the life he had lived with them before the crucifixion, and yet was still ‘of this world’ as well as somehow ‘of the next’.  During this time, his wounded body was not just visible in some kind of ‘ghostly’ way - he could eat, and be touched - though he famously told Mary Magdalene not to touch him (or perhaps more accurately not to hang on to him) when he met her in the garden on Easter Morning – a scene which has inspired many painters.

All through the Bible story, when human beings are brought close to an experience of God, their first reaction is of fear, and God’s response through his angels, prophets and other messengers is always the same – ‘Do not be afraid; fear not.’  As his friends at first shrink back, Jesus immediately dispels their fears.  He greets them as he always had, with his accustomed greeting of ‘Peace’, and willingly proves to them that he is not a ghost but truly their friend - transformed by going through death and out the other side into a different, amazing, but still recognizable form of life.

With the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, falling this year on the 24th of May, the biggest gift bestowed on the disciples and those who followed them seems to have been freedom from fear.  In the face of mounting persecution, God’s gift to them was a boldness that enabled them to shrug off beatings, imprisonments and executions in order to share with others the good news that had transformed their own lives.  And as we look around our world today, with fresh religious and cultural persecutions and intolerance sadly evident on the pages of every newspaper, we can pray that that same Spirit will be with all those who suffer, and those who protest and work to end the suffering.

I find myself praying for a church, and a society, where fear is no longer allowed to rule our actions – not just the ‘big’ fears of death or persecution, but those smaller everyday fears of not being liked, or having to disagree with someone, or being seen to be out of sync with those around us.  Recently, when faced with decisions, I have been feeling around in my heart for those little clinging strands of fear, and asking myself, ‘What would you do if you were not afraid?’  We need to listen to the angels’ message – ‘Fear Not.’

Rev’d Karen Spray             01392 877400                    church@revdkaren.org.uk


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