Five thousand of my men are out there in the freezing mud. Three thousand of them are bloodied and cleaved. Two thousand will never leave this place. I will not believe they fought and died for nothing. These are the words of Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator as he’s desperately trying to believe that the cause his friends died for was, and still is, worth it.
I find that, on a regular basis, people try to convince themselves of things they’re unsure about. Wishful thinking, hoping for the better, holding on to the power of positive thinking etc. are things that many of us cling on to, hoping they will change the future for the better. I can think of one particular group of people who may have been grappling with these ideas.
Other than the Sadducees, all Israelites around Jesus believed in the resurrection from the dead. Their other hope was built on the Messiah – the very person of Jesus recognised by the disciples (at long last). However, on the Friday Jesus was crucified, the disciples’ hope was crushed. Imagine spending three years of your life getting ready for the ultimate win and, suddenly, the very person who was going to bring about the victory is crucified. Of all people, He was the one immune to death – what a tragedy. Instead of the Frankincense brought to Jesus after His birth, the disciples were hoping someone could do a Frankenstein on Him.
Whilst many are concerned with what to have with their fish and chips on Good Friday, the new wrapping around the chocolates on Easter Sunday and consuming an immeasurable amount of hot cross buns in between the two, the early disciples were thinking about the next steps; should they hide in secret for a bit longer, or leave their homeland once and for all in fear of those searching for them because of their once committed affiliation to Jesus? It wasn’t until some of the brave women among them went out in the early morning (around the time we have the elders’ meetings on Thursdays) that their hope was refocused, their hearts strengthened and their vision expanded. Jesus wasn’t a teacher who wasn’t able to reach his dreams and therefore left some of the work for the next generation to achieve; He FINISHED it all.
Friends, let us not substitute the miraculous fact of Jesus’ resurrection with any alternatives offered. Resurrection of Jesus is the climax of hope for this world. As we get together for corporate worship on Sundays, at our Devoted and community groups, baptisms, baby thanksgiving, Alpha evenings and round the table for meals, let us remember the goodness, mercy, and the power of the God we serve and worship. Maximus’ army are almost forgotten, and their vision has perished. However, through the faithfulness of the peasants, fishermen, tax collectors and many ordinary people changed by the Holy Spirit and loyal to King Jesus, the message of His resurrection soon reached the lands far beyond. How can you contain the joy of welcoming God himself into your life?
What we do with the legacy we’ve received and the free gifts imparted to us are personal choices that can have an impact on our families, town, nation, and the nations. Our motivation is not the legalist voice calling us to do more in order to be accepted, but the grace of God that enables us to be on a journey as a family. So let us shout these words together with honour:
“O death, where is your victory?*1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESVUK)
O death, where is your sting?”*
As we come out of our Covid restrictions and look into the next season for us as Jubilee, I wanted to take this time to share some news with you regarding our next steps as a church.
This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.
Have you ever thought that there might actually be a number of similarities between our Christian walk and baking a cake? Gavin explores some of these similarities in this month's Elders letter!
So Sunday saw the finale of series 6 of the BBC drama Line of Duty. If you haven't been watching it or have watched the latest series then you can read on. If you still plan to watch the final installment of series 6, you may want to stop here (although it's not a huge spoiler)!