Sunday’s Coming

It might seem strange to write on Easter Sunday a reflection about the coming of Sunday, surely we are already here. Maybe we are, and maybe we’re not. There is a popular phrase that describes the Christian understanding of God’s Kingdom and the world in which we live, that speaks of “the now and the not yet”. What is meant by this is that God’s Kingdom is here, it is amongst us now, and yet we do not experience the entirety of God’s Kingdom because although we celebrate the risen Christ we continue to await his return. Today Sunday is here, Easter is here. And yet, we continue to wait for something more.

Easter is a day of celebration, as we specifically remember that when the women went to the tomb that found that it was empty and Jesus is alive (Luke 24:6).

Although it can very well be described as the greatest day in history, the very first Easter was a day of confusion and mixed emotions. The women who visited the tomb and found it empty were confused and then afraid (Luke 24:1-5). During the covid-19 pandemic confusion and fear is understandable, no doubt we all know those feelings.

A couple of Jesus’ disciples were on a seven mile walk from one town to another (Luke 24:13). Unsurprisingly they were feeling distraught (Luke 24:17), they thought the person they had followed and trusted with their whole lives was dead and now the body had gone missing. I have heard stories this past week of loved ones who have been taken into hospital by ambulance without any family or friends able to join them. The fear and grief as they are placed onto respirators and the disconnection felt acutely from by those who remain at home unable to see, hear or touch their loved one. It is devastating.

Jesus joins the disciples on the walk and without them realising who he is he reassures them of what has taken place and explains everything that has happened along with all the lessons from scripture (Luke 24:15-27). We cannot begin to explain covid-19 using scripture, though many have developed all kinds of conspiracy theories (don’t get me started on the insensitivity and selfishness of those). What I do believe is that Jesus continues to walk with us, by means of the Holy Spirit. To those who are feeling downhearted or forsaken there is no sermon or lecture but Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a Helper – that is a Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counsellor and  Strengthener (John 14:26 AMP). As those living in the now and the not yet we are not alone, God’s Spirit is with us.

Being in the now and the not yet means that neither I nor anyone cannot pronounce supernatural healing and protection from covid-19. I do believe in the God of the miraculous, but just as it has always been not everyone will be fit and well. Perhaps there will be one or two miraculous healings, but let’s not assume we are so self-important that God would choose us over another, rather pray with faith for the healing of others. When Jesus walked the earth people still got sick and died, he didn’t heal everyone. I won’t understand all the reasons, God is mysterious and I believe God’s ways are just. So, in the now and the not yet we cannot claim protection from a virus but we can take reassurance from the hope and comfort of the promise that He will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Along the journey the disciples do not realise it was Jesus walking with them until something about the way he breaks bread and gives it to them reveals his identity (Luke 24:30-32). Along our own journey we may not recognise Jesus, and that’s alright. Even with all the signs, miracles and teachings of Jesus experienced first hand by the disciples they did not see him or expect him to be there in their darkest hour.

We are invited to follow Jesus, that is to become more like him in our thoughts and actions (1 John 2:6). Although we may experience darkness, as Jesus did in the persecution and death on what we call Good Friday, we also know the light at the end of the tunnel, the hope that comes with the faith that death has been defeated, with the mystery of resurrection that comes on Easter Sunday.

The first time I heard the phrase “Sunday’s Coming” was in a song by Martyn Joseph which says,

War makers have their heyday on Friday
Peaceful voices crying mayday on Friday
Hate is everywhere, hope is dying
The bombs are ready while the planes are flying

Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming
Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming

Pride and prejudice do the dance of the hour
Seems like the bad guys hold the places in power
Hate is everywhere, hope is dying
Bombs are ready while the planes are flying

Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming
Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming

The wheel of fortune turns and the rich get their favours
The poor and hungry go on looking for a saviour
Prophet calls for justice, he ends up dying
But you can’t silence truth it will keep on crying

Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming
Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming

Open up your Sunday eyes
Look with wonder and surprise
You’ll see the truth, you’ll see the lies

Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming
Sunday’s coming, Sunday’s coming

We do have the gift of the Holy Spirit and can celebrate that we are invited into the resurrection life with Jesus. However, Christian’s await a Second Coming – a time when Jesus will return to ‘judge the living and the dead’ (1 Peter 4:5). During this time of waiting we are not to be passive, but have a chance to reflect Jesus in the world in our words and actions. The church is called the ‘Body of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and as a body we are called to be revolutionary. We aren’t called to merge with the world in seeking blessings of wealth and status but in the mystery of blessing in poverty, mourning, weakness, hunger, compassion, authenticity, peace-making, and persecution (Matthew 5:1-10).

To be a Jesus people is to flip the understandings of the world on its head and show a different way. To stand up and speak out for justice, to serve the widows and the orphans. Sunday is Coming and covid-19 will pass, our restrictions will lift and the light at the end of this tunnel will shine bright. We can celebrate the hope we find in Christ. But we are also called to be a people of justice – those who long to bring the hope of Easter Sunday to others. Will we continue to be the same church, unchanged by the unprecedented global events or will we rediscover what it means to live as an Easter People, turning over the tables of injustice and whilst we anticipate the second coming of Christ, pouring ourselves out for the lost, hurting, dying and broken just as Christ has done for us. Are we waiting for Sunday or will we bring Sunday to those in need?

There is a story about a Rabbi who was asked during a natural disaster how he could explain such a tragic act of God. The Rabbi answered that the disaster was an act of nature, the act of God occurred when the people stepped up to help each other.

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