We will all be changed:Posted by Fr. Jonathan
We will all be changed.
We will all be changed is the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is challenging. This week three times there has been the chance for me to take time out and to share together on the Word of God and there has been time to reflect on this sentence.
On the first occasion we were at the Leyland Methodist Church on Turpin Green. It was really good just to sit back and let the service be led by another. But after a few lively hymns and diverse scripture readings, Phil Gough the Methodist minister, preacher and friend asked us all to think about “How Jesus has changed your life?”
It was not so easy because private thought is one thing and we can go into the comfort zone of not really engaging with the question. But Phil asked us to buzz with our neighbour. My neighbour was the Deacon Ellen Winstanley Monk who is in charge of Midge Hall Methodist Church in Leyland and she insisted I should begin the conversation.
I know very well that Jesus is my redeemer and saviour, but I could not share on personal things like that. However Jesus is also the Word made flesh, and the Word of God has been fascinating me recently as bit by bit the power and might of the Word that transforms everything has been coming home to me. So I could share on how the Word that this month I am living means a great deal to me: in fact it has saved me. The word is: “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” are from the letter to the Colossians 3: 1, and they remind us that we are raised with Christ in the very earthy existence we experience each day. At the same time the place of final and perfect peace and rest will be in heaven.
This last week life has harassed me a lot: and when that happens it is not difficult for me to “lose the plot” and find myself wallowing in anxiety as I wonder what should be done. No need to enter into details, but in the midst of great activity as well as mistakes of one kind and another, it was possible not just to seek the things that are above but actually to remain “up there” in all the stress and strain of life down here. I suspect it is an art that every busy mother and housewife has to learn pretty quickly. But for me, a mere ordinary man with many limitations of ability and concentration, it was good to be calm as possible and even playful in all that had to be done with deadlines coming and not really being properly prepared for what had to be said. That kind of thing can cause me great stress.
The other two occasions were also when it was good to relax and let the Word of God sink in to me. One was a local prison with the 17 or so prisoners who came to the “Word of Life Meeting. We focussed on the Word that is the Word of Life for the month “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” and the prisoners found it helpful to buzz with each other with the question that Rev Phil Gough had put to us. A young prisoner talked about his experience of Jesus saving him in the difficult condition of prison life; and it was refreshing and authentic. He explained how Jesus had begun to mean everything to him in there in Prison within all the difficulties of family visits and problems on the wing.
The other was doing the same thing with a group of men in Religious Life, and hearing a certain Religious speak out his mind as to his understanding of the power and majesty of the Word and yet feel that it was impossible to change anything: himself included.
The understanding came to me that the turmoil that sometimes is within my life is only a microcosm of the struggle that there is between good and evil in our world. It is a huge victory for the Word of God when He succeeds in calming me down and allows me to be a bit more loving and peaceful. And it has happened: thanks be to God, though each day I certainly need to be on the watch. So if it can happen in me, a microcosm of this world, it could happen anywhere else.
Some think this world is hell bent of self destruction when we see the self-centredness of many around us: yet at the same time there are many ordinary people, in ordinary hum drum lives going about “doing good”, and so following in the footsteps of Jesus. And they can even witness to the fact that God’s Word is all powerful and redemptive. We will all be changed from glory into glory.
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