Certainty and hope in an uncertain and fearful world
On Friday 8th May we will celebrate 75 years since the ending of World War 2 in Europe. The horrors had ended, and peace had returned to our shores, and life would never be the same after such death and destruction had ravaged families, towns and cities. It would be a long climb upwards from there into a new and nationally prosperous future. The ration books would remain for quite a few years.
Today there is a new war. The enemy? Covid 19. It’s a killer, and every human being in the world is at risk, especially the poor, as 3.5 million are infected and 250,000 die. A new global challenge has been issued: let’s work together towards the destruction of this threat.
Meanwhile, in the waiting world of lockdown, everyone is straining forward to reach for the future. Will the world quickly return to how it was? Not for the bereaved. A phrase increasingly used is “the new normal’. What will that look like? At this stage nobody knows, so any confident statements about what that will mean are at best conjecture, and at worst, fantasy. One thing we do know is that so many old certainties we took for granted were pretenders all along; they were never certain at all.
A Christian holds certainty about the future while living in the reality of the uncertain world we live in. We experience the stress and pain, the same as everyone else. Yet, in the midst of today’s uncertainty, we are the ones who carry extraordinary hope and eternal certainties. And this hope has stood firm for 2,000 years. OK, it requires revelation, faith and trust, but it has nothing to do with pipe dreams or fantasies. It is guaranteed. How? By the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the fulfilment of the promise at Pentecost.
We celebrated Easter in April. Here in May we remember the ascension (21st) and the day of Pentecost (31st). Here’s the narrative.
In Jerusalem. The disciples met with Jesus on what became the day of Ascension and asked whether this was the time that the kingdom would be restored to Israel. He answered that it was not for them to know the times and seasons that the Father had fixed. What they actually needed was to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Once that happened, they would be his witnesses to the whole world.
Suddenly, as they were looking at him, the most amazing thing happened. He was lifted up, and then a cloud took him out of their sight!
In Heaven. Suddenly one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven and they brought him to the Ancient of Days. And dominion and glory were given Him, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.)
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, two shining angels spoke to the disciples, saying ‘don’t stand looking into the heavens. Jesus will return in the same way that you have seen him leave’.
The disciples, around 120 of them, remained in Jerusalem, prayed and waited. Suddenly a sound was heard as if a mighty wind was there and- wow! Heaven broke out upon them and within them. Fire came! The Holy Spirit had come, just as Jesus promised, and these very normal people became normal but supernatural, filled with gifts and boldness. Peter announced ‘God raised Jesus up, and there are 120 witnesses right here. Being exalted to the highest place and having received the promise (of the Holy Spirit) from the Father, it is the risen Jesus who has poured all this out upon us. 3,000 men committed their lives to Jesus there and then. The promise of the Holy Spirit, heaven invading earth, Peter reminded them, was for them, their children, their grandchildren and to all future generations. That includes you and me. A new way of living broke out, with Jesus at the centre. And so it continues…Acts 1:6-11. Dan 7:13-14. Acts 2: 1- 47 (My narrative and translation)
Jesus is indeed the light of the world who has rescued us out of darkness. Death has been killed. The fear of death is no longer a terror for us. We have certainty because Jesus is alive. He is risen! He has gone to prepare a place for us where we shall be welcomed and see him face to face. Let’s lift up our heads and hold fast to our confession; speak it into our own hearts and minds; welcome joy again; be bold yet wise in sharing the good news: Jesus is alive! Because he rose, we too will rise and be with him forever.
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.Num 6:24-26
For a wonderful national blessing
Joel News at joelnews.org Follow their link for a free download of the e-book ‘How The Early Church Handled Two Devastating Epidemics’.
© Roy Godwin 2020