Lyn Thomson gave us a great parable for our times of confusion and challenge in a united churches Holy Week service. ‘A wonderful attractive picture in a shop window catches our attention, so we cross the road to view. Irresistibly we enter the shop and buy it. Once home we open the box and have in our hands no less than 5,000 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We have a choice: 1. Do we give-up, reseal the packet & box to be returned for a refund, or 2. Do we get tore in, and call others in to get the corners, edges and, in time persevere to fulfil the glorious vision that drew us in the first place?
Two friends of Jesus hadn’t even gone back for a refund, truly scunnered, their dreams and glorious vision of a new dawn sunk without a trace. Jesus, their hero, dream caster & vision builder, was wiped out. They were returning to drown their sorrows at home. How dare a stranger call them ‘numb-skulls’ & ‘dim-wits’, accusing them of throwing the towel in prematurely!?
Naturally, when we lose something, or someone, dear to us, we lick our wounds. Cleopas & Co. were in retreat after seeing their team drubbed 20 – nil, buried without trace, oblivious to Jesus’ identity as he walks and talks with them. Grief, sorrow, and sadness can do that, blind us to reality and obscure the bigger picture. Not so much a ‘crisis of faith’ it’s a ‘crisis of imagination’. Here is where many of us find ourselves today, caught between death and new life; our loved ones, plans, aspirations, and dreams buried, heads only just above water. Where is Jesus in the chaos and mystery maze? Right beside us, in fact closer than that. But can we ditch our pride to have our imaginations stretched and reframed by Jesus?
Sonia was grief-stricken and ready to tell God ‘What for!’ Life was hellish, with little hope of improvement, but as she prepared to let fly with two barrel blasts, she was calmed by Jesus’ presence and helped to see a bigger picture. This spawned gratitude and the ability to find positive steps forward. She left that moment and space a different person ready to get stuck into making the vision of new life full of purpose and hope a reality. Able to invite others in to assist in arranging and placing the puzzle pieces together.
Over the last few weeks of term time 260 pupils + staff journeyed round our Fullarton forest trail, ‘Emmaus Maze’, open now 24/7 to anyone and everyone to take a trip back in time to be a fly on the head scarf of the Emmaus 2 as Jesus opens their eyes to how resurrection hope follows death. What fun these kids had bumping into Jesus, opening Easter eggs to read some of Jesus words, sitting in the Emmaus home to drink grape juice, eat bread, recognise Jesus, and hurry back to Jerusalem to share the Good News “Jesus is alive and the awesome vision of a new world of God’s Love within reach! Having trudged 7 hopeless miles home they sped 7 short miles back to Jerusalem, their outlook transformed and reframed.
Lament & Grief are appropriate in the face of loss. The pain of teachers, nurses, doctors, railway workers, church ministers & congregations (et al) is all too real. The emerging Emmaus story offers us a journey and framework of comfort, courage, and creativity. It points to ‘Jesus alongside us’ in our short-sightedness.
Good Grief, Our Dream is Dead! Going home instead, Comfort of my own bed,
Good Grief, The Pain! Hope hard to sustain, Love down the drain,
Good Grief, Where’ve you been? What we’ve seen, Blown to smithereens,
Good Grief, How our hearts burned! Our minds turned, All we learned,
Good Grief, Don’t go away! Come in to stay, You’ve shown The Way,
Good Grief, How he broke the bread! With hands that bled, Then disappeared,
Good Grief, Jesus Alive! No need to strive, Chance to thrive, Jesus Alive!
Good Grief, No time to waste, Now we have a taste, To Jerusalem with haste,
A ‘well kent’ Lament Echoes through the years, How Long!? How long!?
Good, as is, the grief process, May it be a means to access visions and dreams of Christ’s Kingdom Come! Come Holy Spirit Come!