PASTORAL LETTER FROM MARK CHESTER 14th APRIL 2021

Dear sisters and brothers

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Have you ever had one of those encounters where someone greets you warmly but you don’t recognise the person who seems to know you? On more than one occasion I have greeted one of my customers (who in the work context would normally spend time telling me their woes) to have them stare blankly at me and for me to my embarrassment would have to explain who I am, to which they usually reply they didn’t recognise because I wasn’t in a Royal Mail uniform delivering letters.

In the story of the Emmaus road journey (Luke 24:13-35) we read of two of Jesus disciples who after the death of Jesus were travelling to Emmaus from Jerusalem. As they walked they were joined by the risen Christ who gave them a bible study as they walked along (it would take approximately 2.30 hours to walk to their destination). Luke’s account of this incident says ‘they were kept from recognising Jesus’; how this was accomplished we can only guess. By whatever means they were unable to recognise Jesus, I think one thing that could have contributed to their blindness was the context. They had last seen Jesus beaten, bloody and dying on a cross, not a pleasant sight for anyone’s eyes; now they meet a man who appears fit and healthy. Maybe in a similar way that my customers don’t recognise me outside of a work context so the two disciples didn’t recognise Jesus outside of the horror of the cross.

I wonder whether we also sometimes fail to recognise Jesus outside of the context we put him in. Whether we are conscious of this or not we all have a preconceived image of what we expect and think Jesus should be doing. Maybe for some of us the only context in which we can imagine Jesus is in a church setting or another church related event. Can we accept the challenge that sometimes Jesus invites us to recognise him in a different context; in a way we haven’t before and in a way that asks us to humbly discard our preconceived image of him? And can we also find comfort in knowing that Jesus is always with us on our life’s journey even when we don’t feel his presence or know his peace.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.2 Thess 3:16

Mark

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