Mary – “I have seen the Lord”
Thomas – “my Lord and my God”
John – “it is the Lord”
Peter – “It is the Lord ….Lord you know that I do….”
Sometimes a story can become so familiar to us that we don’t see everything that is going on.
I recently gave some of my testimony on the Alpha course. Two stories that I was able to share were about peace and power.
The first was when my Father was taken seriously ill. He had heart failure and had lived five years after a 2 year prognosis but he went downhill very fast when the time came. I received the phone call from my brother when we got back from church. “Dad is in hospital and he is really unwell. You need to get here.”
We were living in Redhill at the time, just 15 minutes from Gatwick. Securing a ticket to Edinburgh, I was on tarmac at the airport within a couple of hours. However, we sat there and sat there and there seemed to be a delay. It went on. I should, by right, have been grabbing the cabin crew by the lapel and demanding that they take me to my dying Father. We were there for 2 and a half hours. A group of Spanish schoolchildren had got separated from their baggage. We could not take off until they were reconciled.
Far from the angst that the situation warranted, I actually felt a strong sense of peace. A sense from God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, in essence saying to me “You are not meant to be there”. I got the text from my brother telling me that he had died as we started to taxi to the runway.
That was my experience of the Spirit. Peace.
A while later, I was leading on an Alpha Away Day about the Holy Spirit. I gave the talks and emphasised this sense of peace being my experience of the Holy Spirit.
It went well.
As planned my training Incumbent, Steve, prayed for us all one at a time in the afternoon. Having prayed “Come Holy Spirit”, in the short silence as we waited, Steve had a word for me. It was simply this ….”Power”.
The sense this time was that God was calling me to see his power at work – in gifts, healing and prophecy. I didn’t realise this at the time. I had to grow into that over the coming years, but I was left with a conviction that there was more to God than just a sense of peace and that there is always more of God. In power.
So, what has that got to do with Easter Sunday?
We can approach Easter Sunday through the lens of the loss of Good Friday and that is right. That can lead us to joy, certainly, relief maybe. Maybe a sense of comfort that the Holy Week story has ended well. It has a happy ending. We can settle back in the sofa, content that all is right with the world and God has it in hand.
That sense of peace is not surprising, because when we look at Jesus’ interactions with others they are generally quite stressed! Yet he pours a calming oil in their situation.
“Why are you crying”….”Mary” ….”Do not hold on to me….Go instead to my brothers”.
You can hear his voice. Calm. Measured. In control. Pouring oil on troubled souls.
Then the disciples. “Peace be with you”..”Receive the Holy Spirit”
Then Thomas. “Peace be with you”..”Put your finger here…reach out your hand…Stop doubting and believe”
Slow. Reassuring. A quiet authority.
On the beach. “Bring some fish…Come have breakfast”.
Even by the third visitation, seeing the risen Jesus must have been a bit disturbing for them. But he wanted to teach them, not scare them. We see gentleness and kindness and self-control.
Finally, Peter. A gentle insistence. “Do you love me?” And at each commission to feed or care, another of Peter’s wounds of his own betrayal is healed.
But there is something else going on here.
The peace is palpable.
The joy and bemusement in the disciples.
The calming influence of their Lord, brother and friend.
But there was more to come.
And the clue is in the breathing of the Holy Spirit over them.
Another breath was to come a few short weeks later.
A blowing wind and tongues of fire.
They were to receive the Holy Spirit, in its fullness, at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit of peace. But also the Holy Spirit of power.
Such that Paul could later write to the Ephesians “ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-21)
The power of the Holy Spirit is the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead.
The Holy Spirit is in you.
Easter Sunday, and the days that followed, are about peace.
But they are also about power.
The miraculous power that Jesus used to perform many miracles.
A power at work today.
And its purpose?
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”. (John 20:30-31)
Jesus’ ministry was about bringing salvation and that people would believe in him to receive that salvation.
Let us, Christ Church, be known as a place of peace and a place of power. That many will believe.
Preparation lesson 7: Call him Lord, your God; of peace and of power.
Rev Doug McHardie
Vicar, Christ Church Purley
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