Walking with Jesus
This Reflection for April 2015 is provided by Anna Nugent, County Ecumenical officer for Herefordshire.
Here Anna looks beyond the dark days of Jesus' trial, death and burial to the joy of Easter ...
What a happy time of year in the church calendars! Having walked with Jesus through the dark times of his trial and crucifixion, we look beyond the cross to the exciting news that Jesus is risen. The Emmaus story in Luke 24 is so relevant to us today, with enduring appeal in its humanity and its mixture of simplicity, complexity - and relevance for our ecumenical journey as we walk with Jesus today.
Like the two disciples on the road, we are often despondent. Working in rural Herefordshire with many beautiful churches and small congregations, I am very aware of Christians struggling to support their churches financially and despairing that they are getting side-tracked from what Jesus really wants them to do - bringing God’s kingdom closer. I pray we remember to ask Jesus to walk alongside us because we don’t have to get through the tough times on our own.
The tool Jesus used to comfort those disciples was Scripture. In Orleton, a small village in North Herefordshire with a population of less than 600, a new Christians Together group was launched this year in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It was a really joyous week with two well-attended services. The first was a celebration with the great and the good sharing in the excitement of a new group starting, including representatives from the Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches. The second was more thought-provoking with a close look at how they planned to work within their community, under the headings of the 5 marks of mission: tell; teach; tend; transform and treasure. It was truly inspiring to see what they were already doing as Christians together and what they had planned over and above the usual joint worship they shared. Regular praying together, sharing scripture together and with children in the local school, and singing together are just a few of the many activities they told us about. It was a service full of God’s love.
Jesus accepted the hospitality of strangers throughout his ministry and crucially on that road to Emmaus. He blessed and broke bread with them and at last they recognised him. We need that shock of recognition and blessing. We need the confidence to invite others to the banquet - and to share with other churches. In some places, it is crucial we work together - I would love to see the Anglican Methodist Covenant come to life in Herefordshire. I would love to see some of the folk in traditional churches recognise the strength of God’s love in the independent churches (and vice versa). The thing that comforts me the most is that the closer we get to each other, the closer we get to God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I truly believe that this is happening in Herefordshire.
For an idea of what is happening ecumenically in Herefordshire this month, check the Churches Together in Herefordshire newsletter: