From Revd Timothy Astin
Go therefore and make disciples ..., baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
Because of magazine deadlines, I write this just before the church lives through the events of Holy Week, the last days of Jesus Christ’ life, his arrest, trial and death; and of Easter Day. The turnaround from Good Friday to Easter Day is so dramatic. From churches stripped bare, suddenly there is the colour of spring flowers and the spreading of the Easter light. From singing hymns of lament, we are praising God with uplifting tunes.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu often said, “we are the people of the resurrection”, and so even while following the events of Holy Week, we know that the new life of Easter has come to us.
Yet for those who lived through Jesus’ death, and through the rollercoaster of emotions from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem to discovering an empty tomb, the turnaround took time. It was while they went back to the ordinary patterns of life that disciples discovered Jesus Christ with them. When they gathered to worship God and to seek God’s guidance, they found Christ among them. When they walked home from Jerusalem, they knew Jesus present in the sharing of the evening meal. Back on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and after fishing, Jesus met with them.
It is no different for us. We know Christ with us in the unfolding of our daily lives. From time to time, through particular experiences, we know in a new way the life of the resurrection. And some of you have been kind enough to share some of those experiences in home groups and Lent groups.
Our parish churches seek to be growing churches, places where people come to faith, and grow in faith. The bible quote at the top of this piece is sometimes called “the great commission”. We who are already faithful are to invite other people to faith. This growing faith can become visible as they are baptised, or as confirmation takes place.
And we are to teach one another within the church the commands of Jesus. (If you have a moment, just think and pray for a little while, and see which of Jesus’ teaching and examples, comes to mind.)
During this month of April and into May, there will be groups of people (older children and adults) meeting on Sunday afternoons to prepare for confirmation. The confirmation service will take place on Pentecost Sunday, 20th May.
People grow in to faith in their own particular way and pace. I also know that much of that growth comes through forming friendships with other Christians, and having chances to discuss faith together, including meeting together in small groups such as our home groups. Teaching doesn’t just happen from the pulpit.
So may our churches be places of welcome, where new friendships can form. And may we be changed by those joining us. May we have the grace to allow faith to unfold in us, and in the people around us, at God’s direction. And may we be confident to share our experience of Easter, of the new life of the resurrection, with the people we meet.