A Methodist / United Reformed Church Local Ecumenical Project
Loving God Loving People
Pastoral Letter - April 2020
This message could be out of date before I finish writing it with Government guidelines changing so often as the world tries to contain the corona virus. Something that doesn’t change though is our Lord – ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ (Hebrews 13:8.)
As we approach Easter - while our regular church rituals may be changed – the underlying truths are not. Jesus… ‘was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.’ (Part of the Apostles’ Creed.) Our faith is based on these certainties which may to many people outside the church seem meaningless. I hope and pray that you can hang onto these central aspects of our faith though this unprecedented crisis.
A 7-year-old boy said to his Dad, “Dad, what is the most important thing you know?” The answer was what the apostle Paul sees as the heart of the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.”
The Resurrection is the most important truth of the Christian faith! If Christ has not risen, then our faith is useless (1 Corinthians 15:14). Without the Resurrection, we might as well forget God, church, the Christian life…On the other hand, if the Resurrection is real, then a few important truths follow:
Our sins are forgiven: The Bible makes it clear that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). And sin put a rift in our relationship with our Creator, separating us from His love. But because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have received forgiveness, and our relationship with God has been restored.
Death is not the end: Jesus conquered the grave and promises that we can follow in His footsteps (Philippians 3:21). Because of the resurrection of Christ, death no longer has power over us. We have gained eternal life. Paul shouts it out: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
How we live is important: Because we know we will live forever in God’s presence, our priorities and devotion are focused on Him, not on the concerns of this present world. This focus does not take us out of this world, but keeps our attention where it belongs: ‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.’ (Colossians 3:2) Living with our hearts focused on eternity enables us to be more effective in God’s business — living out His truth and building His kingdom — right here and now.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
I pray you will live in this hope, with joy in your heart, through all the tough times,
(With thanks to Sean McDowell from ‘Focus on the Family’ for some of these thoughts)