Thought for the Week 10th May 2020

There’s not long to go now…

(by Rev Paul Graham)

Read Matthew 28:16-20

Below are three imagined scenarios relating to the Great Commission in today’s reading; one from today, two from around the time it was given. In these days when we are being forced to be more creative in the ways that we go about “teaching [them] to obey everything I have commanded [you]”, we can reflect on how this looks when face-to-face contact is limited. We remember that Christ is with us on the journey today, just as he was with his disciples, however they were feeling at the time. God’s grace is sufficient for all of us when we turn to him for help.

It’s been such a long time.  The days seem to be endless as the sun tracks across the cloudless skies at a snail’s pace.  Each minute feels like an hour, each hour like a day and each day like eternity.

There’s not much I can do; the occasional phone call marks the highlight of the day. At least they remind me that I exist. I think the phone ring is getting louder though. It’s starting to make me jump when it jangles in the corner.  Or maybe I’m just not used to it breaking into the silence of the house.

Sometimes the radio is the only other voice I hear.  I have even found myself singing along to some of the more familiar tunes, something I would never have dreamt of doing before this all began what feels like 500 years ago.

Today I resorted to counting the wrinkles on the back of my left hand.  At least tomorrow I’ve got the right hand to look forward to.  Maybe I should start a tally chart.

I should be doing something around the house. There’s always a bit of cleaning, a bit of organising, a bit of something to do. But I find it hard to get started.  I don’t lack the time, I lack the motivation. After all, who’s going to see if I’ve hoovered, or dusted, or rearranged the ornaments, or even got dressed today.

I miss the family. Not their voices, as I still hear those even if they’re not quite the same over the phone line. But it’s their touch, their presence and the lingering sense of their being after they’ve gone.

Right, then, that’s enough moping.  Let’s focus on the positives.  I’ve still got my health, my jigsaws and my windows to see the world, even though it’s a lot smaller than I’m used to. I haven’t caught anything, unless you count boredom as a disease. My heart goes out to those who are struggling and suffering, but I can’t escape the selfishness that overwhelms me when I look in the mirror each morning. I know I’m supposed to be grateful that I’m safe, but I can’t stop myself feeling grumpy. And then guilty when I hear of the death toll.  Stop it.  Get a grip.  Back to the positives.

I’ve got this house, even if I’ve caught myself referring to it as a cell. I’ve got people who will shop for me; new friends that I never knew existed who have become vital to my existence. More people have asked about me than ever before. I even think that they’re genuinely interested in the answer. And they’ve offered to pray for me, my family and anything else that I can think of. I must matter to someone; I really should remind myself of this every day.

That’s enough for today. I can hear the jigsaw calling.  Just one more piece, I think.

One way or the other, there’s not long to go now…

It’s been such a long time. There are times when I nearly regret my decision to follow. I’m not a townie, I’m a seashore guy. Even now I’m not used to the sounds, the sights and definitely the smells of the city. Who knew that so many people would choose to be crammed into such a small space?

Space. That’s what I crave. The chance to feel the wind in your hair without it having passed through so many others before it reaches you. A sense of freedom, even under this oppressive regime.

Freedom. That’s another thing. At least on the water I was away from the long reach of the law. Our law, their law. Any law. Just me, my brother, some friends and a lot of fish. Sometimes. Other times, just me, my brother and some friends. The fish enjoyed the water too much on those nights.

And that’s the problem. I want to go back to how things were. No, hang on a minute. That’s not true. I wouldn’t have missed this adventure for the world. The crowds, the miracles, the hospitality and the hostility. Yeah, that as well. Sometimes it’s good to have a bit of a rumble, even if it’s just letting off a bit of steam.

It’s a shame that we lost Judas, but I’m still not sure why. Rumours in the group have it that he led the soldiers to Jesus, but it was dark and it could have been a coincidence. If I’m being totally honest, I was too busy dozing to notice until all the ruckus jolted me awake. I suppose we might find out in the fulness of time.

Anyway, I’ve got my own burden of guilt to deal with. At least I’m not as bad as “Oh no, not him” Peter. Yeah and not just once, but three times. All I did was scarper when all seemed lost. And remarkably, we’re back together now and everyone, even Peter, seems to be alright with each other. Jesus is quite the forgiving guy, it seems.

Off to the mountains, you say, Jesus. One more trip out of the city. Absolutely! Getting out of that stuffy room again; I can’t wait. Should I stay with them or should I go back home? Take the opportunity to slip away and get back to my old life. As if I could. I guess I’ll keep following, as it feels like there’s something brewing.

One way or the other, there’s not long to go now…

It’s been such a long time. Thirty-three years and an eternity, in fact. One death among so many others. One glorious Sunday, a lesson in grace and more broken bread. But now it’s winding down for me here, just as it’ll be winding up for them.

I can’t wait to get back, to know that full communion again. But I’ll miss the everyday experience. The sights, the sounds, even the smells. I’ve got to leave it up to them, but at least they won’t be alone. Nor will they be the last.

One way or the other, there’s not long to go now…


(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash)